Sam's Oscar Report

Sun, 29 Feb 2004 - Hollywood

It's leap year.
That's Superman's birthday.
(He's either 65, or 16, depending how you figure it.)

So it's...



Sam Longoria here, your Oscar reporter.

I was born in 1956, the year Michael Todd won 5 Oscars, including
Best Picture, for "Around The World In 80 Days."  Jerry Lewis was
the Oscar Host.

Things were a lot simpler in 1956.  I know I was.
The stakes are bigger now, but nothing important has changed.

Hollywood is a walled city, as in ancient times, a loose network
of competing little kingdoms.  Sometimes it's great, other
times it just feels feudal.  It's leap year - let's leap in.

"The Ten Commandments" is Hollywood's big motif, you see it
everywhere.  It's most blatantly available in the big, new,
ancient Egyptian theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.  Similiarly
newly ancient, Babylonian iconography embellishes the
gorgeous new Kodak Theatre.

Golden Oscar-Tut presides, kitty-corner to the
Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorium.

The Egyptian thing's a hint of how the town is run, a
message to any Hollywood worker with ears to hear.

The Pharoah is at the top.  The rest of us are just little slaves,
toiling to make bricks without straw.  That is the entire message.
So let it be written.  So let it be done.

I always flash on "The Ten Commandments," at the Oscars.
I hope not to break any of 'em tonight, though Lord knows
the streets are paved with broken tablets.

Hollywood Boulevard is closed.  It's been limited for a week.
Police helicopters fly endless circles over the city, spotlights
and guns trained on the crowds below.

For our safety, they hang a roaring motor, and a spinning blade,
and a tank of gasoline over a crowd.  That's all night long.

Residents pack up and clear out when it's
Oscar Time, to get some sleep.

The Palace Guard controls all access.  The Chandler Pavilion
or the Shrine Auditorium are open houses, by comparison.
This place is Fort Knox.

No regular buses, subway, or auto tonight, at least not at the
corner of Hollywood & Highland.  Only ordained white or black
stretch limousines snake up and down the hill, ferrying both
rich and insolvent in and out of the golden Kodak pyramid.
A very few guys at the top are rich.  All else, insolvent.

The cars are leased, the jewelry lent.
The gowns are lent.
Every cent spent on the rent is lent.

Speaking of Lent, since Ash Wednesday, Mel Gibson's
movie "The Passion Of The Christ" has made $177 Million.
In fact, it's made more money than all the other movies
out, combined.

Yet, Mel is conspicuous by his absence tonight.
Scuttlebutt is he was invited, but declined.
Now, that's different.

It's all different somehow this year.  For one thing,
the promotion art is done in comic-book style.
Not bad, just weird.

For another, Oscar Night is moved up a month.  It's
been March or April, but all those competing awards
in January and February, Grammy and upstart Sundance,
have forced Oscar's golden hand.

Oscar must dominate, so February it is, to boost sagging
ratings.  Moving showtime is a desperate measure, and
other such measures are evident.

This Oscar ceremony is fast-paced, and it MOVES.
Fast, slick, no slowdowns or showdowns,
no politics or anything offensive.

Last year was shouting and protesting.
This year it's quiet.  Too quiet.

This is the first year it's not a live, live broadcast.
Usually, there's a sense anything can happen on-camera.

Not today - the show starts at 5 seconds of the hour.
A new five-second delay lets them stop anything
naughty.  I'm thinking of a lot of great Oscar moments,
like the streaker in 1973, that just wouldn't be tv today.

For the autograph hound, this year has more muscle-guys
than ever.  I used to see one or two in an evening,
but they're fruitful, and have multiplied.

Tight black suits, shiny lapel pin.
Agent Smith.  Men in Black.

Security - but not mine.
Uniformed cops every couple of feet outside.
Guys in black every doorway, stairway, hallway,
and elevator inside.

Another change - there's a real Red Carpet again.  I guess the
last two years of low-profile Oscar entrances didn't work out.

There are 500 heavily-screened and -searched poor souls in
the bleachers, and the red carpet leads to the front door.

On it, famous persons who only come out one night a year.
If they see their shadow on the red carpet, they get
six more weeks of unemployment.  It's February.

I didn't work on anything that was nominated this year.
I'm just rooting for the work of some people I like.
Three movies, four categories.

Best Editing - "Cold Mountain."
Best Animated Short - "Destino."
Best Visual Effects and Best Picture -
"Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King."

Tonight I hope to run into Randall William Cook, and
Walter Murch, and Peter Jackson, and Roy Disney.
Running into somebody in particular takes a great
deal of preparation, so it may or may not happen.

The ever-innovative Walter Murch managed to cut down an
incredible 600,000 feet of film, for "Cold Mountain,"
using the new Apple Final Cut Pro software, into the
very moving final cut of that picture. Sad it didn't
get more nominations, it's such a big picture.

Also sad Jack Nicholson didn't get nominated for Best Actor
in "Something's Gotta Give," the movie for which Diane Keaton
got a Best Actress nomination.  It's some of Jack's best work.
Gotta snap out of it - I'm feeling sorry for Jack Nicholson.

The Disney case - Roy resigned last year from the Disney
board, calling for the resignation of Michael (M.E. first)
Eisner, based on Eisner's poor CEO performance.

That means, in laymen's terms, Michael has run the
Disney company and its fine worldwide reputation
into the fine, loamy topsoil.

Roy got Michael hired, 20 years ago, and says Michael's
time is up.  Michael says he'll leave Disney when
he's good and dead.

I've met Michael and I've met Roy.
I doubt either would remember me.

I've seen Michael be a bully.
I was moved by Roy's basic good nature, and
how much he evokes my memory of his uncle,
the one and only Walt Disney.

I hope Eisner will resign, so Disney can be "Disney,"
but he won't go quietly, he'll have to be voted out.

Roy got animated projects done at the Mouse House,
including a well-updated "Fantasia 2000."  (I was
at the premiere.)

This year, Roy finished an animated Disney short.
It's "Destino," collaboration between Walt and
Salvador Dali (!), up for "Best Animated Short,"
only 58 years after it started.

I hope it wins, although it's a weirdly-styled piece.
A win might affect, however slightly, the balance of
votes on the Disney board, and fan the sparks of change.
Good luck, Roy!

I wrote last year how much I enjoyed Gollum's turn as the
first emotionally-moving computer-animated movie character.

I think poor Gollum is even better this year.
I close my eyes, and see him, clutching his seductive golden Ring.
A blissful smile is on his face, as he plummets down to the
fiery depths of Hell.  I've seen that look before.

You see it a lot on Oscar night.  I expect to see it
again soon.  In the Press Room, as the winners speak.

This is a whole building full of people who'd gladly wrestle Gollum
for his precious golden Ring, or Aaron for his golden calf, or
each other, for a golden statue of a little guy with a sword.

I step over a broken tablet, the one about
no graven images and no other gods.

The 500' x 40' red carpet is bracketed by
four-foot Oscars, about a yard apart.

On the roof of the building across the street, West of Disney's
El Capitan Theatre, a camera crew operates a remote-controlled
camera crane.  It swoops over, peering down at all below.

The tv pictures are broadcast on ABC, Disney's network.
Are you getting the picture?

A bunch of journalists, including Roger Ebert, looking angelic
with his white hair, interviews the Hollywood Chosen.

Red Carpet moments:

Last year, I complained about Jennifer Garner's tournequet
of a dress.  No complaints this year.  She's around the color
wheel tonight, a gorgeous flowing orange vision, with a train.

The train is well-engineered, and the caboose has a
delightful jiggle.

Jennifer glides along, the perfect driver for such a dress.
Thanks to my new glasses, I can see her cute facial dimple.

Nicole Kidman wears a blue gown with froth above
and below.  I like her as a blonde, but she's better
as a redhead.  If she's bothered that she, and most of
"Cold Mountain," were snubbed, she doesn't show it.

I don't know why, but the style now is for men to have tiny
little glasses.  I have big ones for editing and close work.
I'm out of fashion here, in my tuxedo and big glasses.

That's okay.  I'm still better groomed than Peter Jackson,
who, celebrated as he is, is the word "unkempt," on feet.

Peter's suit is rumpled, his hair is everywhere.
He looks like he slept in a rain barrel, had birds
nest in his hair, and was dragged here by his tie.

I could understand if he were still making the movies,
but that's over.  He can't dress up for the biggest
tv show in the world?

Tonight his work will spawn 11 Oscars,
tying with "Titanic" and "Ben Hur."

Imagine how well he would have done if he'd
dressed better.

I first noticed tiny little glasses on Steven Spielberg.
He's very grey this year, with a lot on his mind.

Robin Williams has tiny little two-tones that recall his
comedy glasses made from spoons and feathers.

Bill Murray has tiny little tinted glasses, and even
missing most of his hair, he's still cool Bill.  In the
press room, somebody asks what he's wearing,
he says "Boxers."

Michael Douglas has little tinted glasses, the better
to peer at Catherine Zeta-Jones in her bright red dress.

Eugene Levy has the tiniest little round glasses,
and looks like a cartoon.

How can they see?  Don't they mind peering
at everyone through a tiny little window?

Francis Ford and Eleanor Coppola are there.  Francis,
God bless him, has normal-sized glasses.  So there.

I have lived long enough to see Christopher Lee ride
a motorcycle through the sky, in the most recent
"Star Wars" prequel.  On a par with that weirdness,
today I spy Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller, recent stars
of "Starsky and Hutch," walking the Red Carpet.

Their billboard for that movie is everywhere here.
I like its ad line, "They're The Man." It's funny.

I sight or meet or meet again, Clint Eastwood (in
his blue-collar tuxedo), Sean Penn, Sir Ben Kingsley,
Ted Turner, Sting and his family.

Jamie Lee Curtis's gown is blue, and she is
all smiles.

Two women's outfits stand out in my mind.

One is the flesh-colored, beaded gown worn by
Patricia Clarkson, Best Supporting Actress nominee.
Wowee.  She looks like a beautiful, sparkling nude.

The other?  At every Oscar ceremony, there is a woman
who wears a gown that bares her back as far down as
you can imagine, like Cate Blanchett a few years ago.
This year, that's Holly Hunter.

Phil Collins has tiny little glasses, wears black,
and, except for those things, looks like Yoda.

Lovely Liv Tyler has cute little cateye glasses, and
wears a black gown and a black choker, one of the
few movie ladies in black tonight.  (Sir Ben's escort
also wears black.)  They look great.

So does Sean Young, who still makes my heart skip a beat.

Okay, to be fair, Diane Keaton is in black too,
because she is wearing a men's tuxedo.

Angelina Jolie is in white.
She used to have a tattoo on her shoulder
of Billy Bob Thornton's name.  Now she has a
tattoo-removal scar of Billy Bob Thornton's name.

I see Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews.
Julie is all in white, and looks no different from
when I met them in 1982.

Blake is more slender and fragile-looking.  So, of
course tonight he does a stunt, crashing a motorized
wheelchair through a breakaway wall.

Big Will Smith is there with his little wife,
Jada Pinkett Smith.  She has buff arms, and wears a
gown they would have worn in the '30s, just beautiful.

Somebody who was here in the '30s, in fact he was
the world's top box-office star then, is here.
Mickey Rooney.  It's amazing how little he's aged.

Cute Jessica Harper is on hand, she smiles at me.

Sandra Bullock wears a white gown with a skirt trimmed
in foof, that makes her look like she's a lamppost, or
on her own pedestal, or on top of a wedding cake.
It's odd, but really pretty.

I see Michael McKean, and his darling wife Annette O'Toole,
her gown has a floral pattern down the side.  She plays
Superman's mom these days, on "Smallville."

I've enjoyed their work a long time.  I remember
Annette first from "Smile," and Michael from
The Credibility Gap, and a pleasant conversation
we once had at McDonald's in Studio City.

Michael and Annette wrote "Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow,"
a wonderful song.  It is a trip seeing Catherine O'Hara
and Eugene Levy perform it live on stage, very much in
their "Mitch and Mickey" characters from their mighty
movie "A Mighty Wind."

My only real disappointment of the evening is it doesn't
win for Best Song.  What a great song.  They wuz robbed!

The sidewalk has stars, embedded in the pink granite sidewalk
stones.  Attendees pass over "Robert Duvall," "Anthony Hopkins,"
"Harrison Ford," turning right at "Martin Landau."

Beneath the curtained arch, they pass between two huge golden
polystyrene Oscars.

There's a maze of steps and escalators, as you get up
and up, into the Kodak Theatre.  Guards greet you at
each level.  At least we're in.

It's beautiful, and surprisingly enormous, considering
it has fewer seats than the Shrine or Chandler.
Onstage are enormous and surreal sets.

Tom Hanks is here.
Alec Baldwin is here.
Pierce Brosnan is here.
Sir Sean Connery is here.
I guess we can start.

Charlize Theron wears a gown and hairdo that makes her
look like Jean Harlow.  Just gorgeous, that's all.

Julia Roberts also looks like a golden-age movie star.
Her hair and shiny gown are classic.  Rowf!

Uma Thurman, what can I say?
She is beautiful.  Her gown is bizarre.

She looks as though she ran through back yards to
get here, stole laundry from the clothesline,
and dressed herself in it.  Sorry Uma.

I don't remember seeing this before, but there are
several pregnant ladies, in maternity gowns, here tonight.

All the Hobbits, or the Actors who played them,
are here in a Hobbit gang, a Pride of Hobbits.

It was a good year for definitive Tolkien.
"Lord Of The Rings," is effectively one 9-hour movie,
and closer to the books than anything I've seen.

My women friends seem very well informed about Tolkien,
incidentally.  Smart females seem to appreciate
Tolkien.  Guys, take note.

The guys who worked on "Lord Of The Rings: Return Of
The King" did a lot of new things with old technology,
and a bunch of old things only faster and cheaper,
with new technology.

They invented digital horses, for one thing, so long-necked
dragon creatures could snatch them up, and impossibly
long-tusked elephantine creatures could squash them, so
they could be piked and slain on enormous battlefields,
without real equine mayhem.

If nothing else, that alone is worthy of a special award.
Some otherwise great movies are ruined for me, knowing
the horses were trip-wired or abused or maimed,
just for some shot or other.

No more.  You want a horse to do an impossible stunt,
we write the code and voila!  Down he goes, what a great
stunt, and nobody and no horse hurt.  Excellent!

The ceremony starts, and races along, until 3:45 later.
There is only one lull, when "Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow"
finishes, somebody is late coming out, the orchestra
actually vamps.

There is only one spontaneous moment of comedy.
When Billy Crystal is told by a winner that he used to
date Billy's cousin, Billy mugs until the camera finally
goes to his face for his reaction.

Tim Robbins wins Best Supporting Actor.
"Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King" gets Best Art Direction.
"Finding Nemo" wins Best Animated Feature.
"Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King" gets Best Costumes.

Renee Zellwiger gets Best Supporting Actress for "Cold Mountain."
Yay Renee!  She's in a white wraparound gown, with a big bow
in back.  She looks like a present.

The guy who wins Best Live-Action Short for
"Two Soldiers" gets my "Grace Under Pressure Award,"
reading his thank-you list as fast as he can, while
getting off a couple of good jokes too, about how
soon the "get off the stage" music will start.

The music, conducted by Harold Wheeler, does start
before he finishes, but he makes the most of his
45 seconds of fame, before they escort him away.

The Best Animated Short is not "Destino," but
"Harvey Krumpet," from Australia.
That's Destino for you.

Liv Tyler presents a montage of the "Best Song" nominees.
In a "Cold Mountain" song, Alison Krauss and Sting's
band includes some sort of mandolin / theremin.

Alison Krauss, backed by Elvis Costello, T-Bone Burnett,
and a heavenly choir, sing "Scarlet Tide."  It is marred
only by how out-of-tune is Costello's guitar.  I hope
you didn't hear that at home.

Annie Lennox sings her song "Into The West."  It's okay,
but kind of boring, and I don't think it can win.
When it does, I am shocked.

Billy Crystal's back for his 8th time as Host.  He
does a great couple minutes joshing Sir Sean Connery,
Julia Roberts, Diane Keaton, and even does a good
mimic of Robin Williams's act.

Special Visual Effects is swept away by the
"Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King"
crew, who is flushed with victory,
and I am thrilled to see it.

Randy Cook has shaved his beard and looks younger
and livelier than I thought he would after
round-the-clock work on three blockbuster movies.

I'd emailed him my joke I've wanted to hear my whole life.
"Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King" would have been the
perfect opportunity, peopled as it is by Hobbits, Dwarves, and Elves,
to have somebody REALLY say,
"I'd like to thank all the Little People, who made this possible..."

Randy wisely does not use it.  He doesn't need a joke because
he is very cool, always dignified at the proper time, and this is it.
Yay Randy!

Jennifer Garner and her train return to the station.
She tells how she hosted the Technical Awards, poor girl.
That's how she spent her Valentine's Day, with geeks and
copter-heads.  Her major in college was in chemistry,
so she pronounces technospeak extremely well.

Bill Tondreau gets an Oscar for his motion control magic.
I remember first meeting him in 1983.  He's nice, and
he's certainly moved a lot of cameras and film
with his computer wizardry.  Yay Bill!

Pro Tools is similarly honored for their fine products,
and the Sawyer Award goes to my hero Peter D. Parks,
for his microphotography and 3-D work.

Jim Carrey enters with his head shaved, doing Peter Sellers
dialogue from Blake Edwards movies, apparently in random
order.  He's Yul Brynner with Tourette Syndrome.

It's Blake Edwards's tribute, with clips from his great
movies.  Blake does his wheelchair stunt, to gasps from the
crowd, because it's scary, really.  He gets a big ovation.

Blake says he's been given 1-1/2 minutes, or 90 seconds
(his choice), and tells quick anecdotes, like the man
who shoveled after the elephant, singing "There's
No Business Like Show Business."

Breathless, he thanks everybody, including his foes.
He says they got him steamed enough to succeed.
He's beautiful, takes his Oscar, and goes home
to Julie Andrews.  All right, Blake!

Bill Murray explains how "Lost In Translation" came to be,
and how nobody believed Sofia Coppola could pull it off.

"Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King" gets Best Makeup,
which is a relief.  If Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves, and Aged Wizards
aren't done with makeup, it means you have to find the real thing,
and hire them, so I'm glad they used makeup.

I love John Travolta's joke, he says in 1927 "The Jazz Singer"
was the first movie to record both sound AND dialogue.
I hope it's a joke.

"Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King" gets Best Sound Mixing.

Best Sound Editing goes to "Master & Commander: Far Side Of
The World."  I loved this movie.  Involving story, great acting,
incredible action and visual effects.  All they can give it is
an award for ship creaks?

Likewise, I loved "Seabiscuit." Although it got nominated
for Best Picture, its Director was un-nominated, like maybe
it directed itself.  "Seabiscuit" gets no win, place, or show
at the end of the evening.  It's a shame Bill Macy wasn't
nominated for Best Supporting Actor, for his racetrack announcer.

Julia Roberts arrives to give a tribute to Katherine Hepburn,
just seeing Katie's clips is very cool.

So is the Bob Hope tribute, he had 21 years as Oscar Host,
and five special Oscars, always joking he didn't get one.

Best Documentary Short goes to "Chernobyl Heart," because a
movie about nuclear meltdown and radiation sickness really
should be short.

Best Documentary Feature goes to "Fog Of War."  Errol Morris
makes a speech comparing Vietnam to Iraq, says we're doing
it again.  Is he really going out on such a limb there?

Off he goes, having said 1/2 of the political commentary
this evening.  He doesn't know if his words reach the
audience, because of the tape delay.

Billy Crystal makes a joke about it, that Morris's taxes
will now be audited.  There are laughs, but many gasps.
Billy covers, saying "Scary times."  No kidding, Billy.

The President of the Academy, Mr. Frank Pierson reads
the Memorial Tribute, for movie folk we lost this year,
like Hepburn, Hope, Donald O'Connor, and Gregory Peck.
(Leni Riefenstahl, Believe It Or Not, was on the list.)

Poor Mr. Pierson has a hard time.  He loses his place,
and apparently ought to wear his tiny little glasses.
I feel sorry for him.  The room is rustling, that's
a bad sign.

"Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King" gets Best Original Score.
"Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King" gets Best Editing.
It's a massacre.  The Juggernaut rolls on.

I've seen "A Mighty Wind" over and over, it's one of the most
enjoyable pictures I saw this year.  And a musical!
It's parody, but the material is so good, it rises above that.

I've wondered, as I watched the movie, what it would be
like to see the "Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow" song
live.  Now I know.  It's lovely.

Another contender for Best Song is "Belleville Rendez-vous,"
from "The Triplets Of Belleville."  It's a jumpin' number,
one musician plays a bicycle as an instrument.

Jack Black and Will Ferrell put lyrics to the get-off-the-stage
music, the chorus being "You're boring."  It's funny, but
if they really wanted to de-bore the show, they'd shorten it,
(25 minutes longer than last year), and lose their song.

Especially since the last chorus is easily the biggest
free commercial for a restaurant ever.  The words,
"Del Taco, Del Taco, Del Taco..." go out to hundreds
of millions.  That's a lot of burritos, folks.

Best Foreign Language Film is Canada's "The Barbarian Invasions."
At the mic, the co-writer says "I am thankful 'The Lord of the
Rings: The Return of the King' does not qualify for this category."

I love this joke.  I have loved it since I heard it said
by Paul Simon at the 1976 Grammys, referring to Stevie Wonder.

Uma Thurman and Jude Law present Best Cinematography
to Russell Boyd for "Master and Commander: Far Side Of
The World."  Okay, now I feel better.  That's two.

Francis Ford Coppola and his daughter Sofia enter to
Wagner's "Ride Of The Valkyries."  Francis imitates
Marlon Brando, and is pretty funny.  They present
Best Adapted Screenplay to Fran Walsh of
"Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King."

Sofia really didn't have to leave the stage, because
she picks up Best Original Screenplay for "Lost In
Translation."  Good for her!  I remember a decade
ago, some people said mean things about Sofia's
performance in "Godfather III," as well as her feature
directing debut.  It's good to see her triumph here,
as well as be a Best Director nominee.
Yay, Sofia!

Tom Cruise presents the Best Director Oscar to Peter
Jackson, of "Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King."

My favorite funny moment was a callback to last year's
ceremony.  Last year, when he got his Best Actor Oscar,
Adrien Brody gave Halle Berry a big smackeroo onstage.

Tonight, before presenting the Best Actress Oscar, Adrien
pauses meaningfully, and sprays his mouth with breath spray.
And he waits for his laugh.  And it comes.
Easily the best show moment.

Then he presents the Best Actress Oscar to Charlize
Theron.  She does kiss him, just a demure little kiss,
compared to the Halle Berry buss.

Charlize is emotional and thanks her mother, and
because she says everyone is thanked in New Zealand,
she thanks everybody in her native country, South Africa.

There's a murmur in the audience at this.  South Africa
is not considered a politically-correct place to be from,
by some people.

Best Actor goes to Sean Penn, for Clint Eastwood's
"Mystic River."  Sean remarks that there were no WMDs,
(weapons of mass destruction in Iraq), and goes on
with his sentence.  He is not bleeped or edited, but
he has just made the second half of tonight's entire
political commentary.

The rest of Sean's speech is pretty amazing, actually.
He deserves an Award for the speech itself.  He says
it's elitist to have a speech prepared, so he's going
to speak without one.  Somehow he remembers quite
a big list of persons to thank, almost like he
memorized it.  C'mon, Sean.

It's Best Picture time.
As far as voting goes, the biggest surprise is,
there are no surprises.  "Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King"
is nominated in 11 categories, and wins every single one.

Steven Spielberg presents the award for Best Picture,
and he remarks, "It's a clean sweep."

I have to look elsewhere for surprises
I don't look have to look far. Onstage.

There's beautiful Icelander Berglind Olafsdottir, an
Oscar-handler this year, in a gorgeous scarlet dress.

Maybe she was here last year, but I didn't see her.
Thank God for my new glasses, big and thick
though they may be.

Six-foot plus, topped by her tall blonde cone of hair,
Berglind takes my breath away, but she's done that before.

She was a Hawaiian Tropic girl, when I worked a Palm
Springs golf/tennis tournament tv show, as an on-camera
interviewer, and I got to interview Charleton Heston.

You remember Mr. Heston, big movie star...
He played Ben Hur and Michalangelo, and many other roles.

Perhaps his most memorable were as Moses and God, in the
1956 Paramount release, yes, "The Ten Commandments."

I asked Mr. Heston inane questions, he was charming
and graceful.  I tried mostly not to bring up "The Ten
Commandments,"  or the NRA, or "Planet Of The Apes,"
or the usual stuff.  I tried to do a good job,
but it was not to be.

I tried to keep my mind on the interview, but I lost it completely
when Berglind walked by in a little tennis outfit, her long legs
flashing that golden Hawaiian Tropic tan.
Luckily, I was not alone in trance-ville.

I stopped questioning.  Mr. Heston stopped answering.
The crew became very quiet.  We all looked at Berglind,
receding in the distance.  Everything just stopped
cold for a long moment.

Mr. Heston turned back, looked at me, and grinned his
wide, white, movie-star smile.  We all came back
to reality, and finished the interview.

Berglind was 19 then, an innocent stunner,
incredibly tall, with a sweet little voice.

That afternoon, she burned her leg on a hot
motorcycle tailpipe, while posing for pictures.

I, good scout, instantly had burn ointment to put on it.
She bore my application with good grace,
remarking only, "You're rubbing the wrong leg."

I still remember what I said.
"I'll get there."

She laughed, and gave me her phone number,
a high point in my male life.  I do remember some
long-distance bills for calls to Iceland, but
they were worth it.

Berglind is mid-20s now, and looks even better.
Definitely has it together in the goddess department.

I hope somebody has the good sense to put her in
a movie, but tonight she is handing out Oscars.
Not a bad showbiz job.

After the Oscars conclude, with a curtain call, we all stream
outside.  Some head down the stairs to the real world.  Some climb
up to the top level, where they're having the Governor's Ball.

It takes me a little while to detour to the press room, and then
decide whether to go to the Ball, as I was unable to do last year.
I don't want to regret it, as I did then.

The room is blue/aqua, with beautiful arched ceiling and twinkling
lights.  The tables have violet flower centerpieces, and the glasses
are stemmed, with gold rims.

In the center of the dance floor is a raised bandstand,
where a lovely lady sings lush arrangements of
Hollywood standards.  Couples are dancing.  It's lovely.

The "Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King" party has left,
I don't catch up with them.  That's okay, they have a party all
to themselves, they really don't have much in common with
the folks in this room.

There are other parties, you know.  The Governor's Ball is
a plain-vanilla Academy affair.  The other parties, like the
Vanity Fair party at Morton's, is more wild and hip.
That means loud.  I'm happy to be here.

I cruise the room, prospecting for gold statues and
autographs.  This is like fishing at a trout farm.

A guard comes up to me in the Governor's Ball.
It's alarming.  He makes straight for me.

I hold my emotions in check, and deign to
notice him.  That's how you handle guards.

"Sir?  Excuse me, Sir?"

I turn to face him, expecting him to ask for my credentials,
but he doesn't.  He's something a guard usually isn't.

He leans closer, "Your, uh..." and trails off.
He points down.

I look down, and see the white of my shirt tail, where it
shouldn't really be.  I tuck it in, and zip up my zipper,
from where I guess it's been, since my last rest stop.

When I start making dumb mistakes like that, it's time to go.
It's late anyway.  I gather up my stuff, and a rose
from the table centerpiece.  I rise with my rose.

Downstairs, in front of the building, guys with brooms are
trying to sweep up an incredible mess, like that poor guy
sweeping confetti in "Citizen Kane."

They're disassembling the platforms and bleachers,
getting ready for Oprah Winfrey's Kodak Theatre show
tomorrow.  No sleep for them tonight.
Just a clean sweep.

Across the street, more guys are hanging the new sign on
the El Capitan Theatre marquee, for tomorrow's "Good
Morning America" show.

I guess I look harmless, holding my program and my rose.
A nice black lady asks how to get to the Renaissance
Hotel, I point her in the right direction.  See that
neon sign, to the left of the rampant elephant?

On the sidewalk, portable gas heaters radiate warmth.
I pause, feeling heat on my face.

Cop cars scream in past me, lights flashing.  Cops jump out,
and nab some guys who are trying to get past the steel pipe
barricades.  Time to go, don't want to be an innocent (!)
bystander in Los Angeles, they get shot.

I walk North on Highland, from the Kodak Theatre.
At one door, the lady who asked directions waits, and we
chat.  She's come from New York to be in Oprah's show in
the morning.  A lady hits on us for cab fare.
I continue on.

Next door, in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel, I run into
two cheery blonde women.  They're sisters from Texas,
Carolyn and Cherry.

They're two of the 500 Bleacher Fans, and cheered the red
carpet crowd early in the evening.  It's incredible what they
had to go through, to get here tonight.  Even more incredible
because this is their second year at it.  They are fun and
vivacious, and have they got stories to tell!

They love movies, and know all kinds of great stuff about
Sundance and the Oscars, and a wonderful Bill Clinton
story.  We swap stories for a while.

It's late, but this is fun, and I'm not tired any more.
We swap email addresses, and they go off.

Some time later, I get back to my car, and drive a while.

Homeways is best ways now, because for me,
that's where movies are made.

Around 5 am, I get home.  SLEEP!

('S leap year...)

I wish you the same.  See you in Hollywood.

Best to you,

Sam Longoria

secret film school

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© 2004 Sam Longoria, All Rights Reserved