Sam's Oscar Report

Mon, 30 Mar 1998 - Hollywood

SAM'S 1998 OSCAR REPORT

Hello!

Sam Longoria here, your Oscar reporter.

Don't know if you watched the Oscar telecast this year, but I was there in
person, and at the Governor's Ball afterward.  This was my twelfth time,
and it was a lot of fun.  This infuriates some persons, and delights
others, hope you are the latter.

Used to be, my friends would tease me about going to the Oscars.  They
could understand if I were the producer of the movie, and the statue would
have my name on it, but why would you go if you just worked on the movie,
(often in a key position, where the department head gets nominated for your
work, grr), or you just knew the nominees, and wanted to root for them?

Why indeed?  I go for a yearly reminder why I'm here, to see the result of
all this struggle in the belly of Hollywood.  I want to see the guys who
have made it, up close, living and breathing.  If they can make it, I can.
That's the rocket fuel, the battery charge.

I can really see the progress I've made over the past sixteen years, too.
Things are really getting somewhere.  Having produced and directed and
edited a bunch, it's actually getting easier to produce a big movie.  In
fact, it seems harder and harder not to.

I guess if I really wanted a bowling trophy, I would hang out with guys who
bowl.  If you want the Academy Award, you do the movie work during the
year, and  hang out at the Academy Awards, when it comes around.  That's
how I see it.

I also have a guilty-pleasure committment to my autograph collection, which
started as a sometime thing, but now has a scary addiction-tinge to it.  I
actually look forward to filling my program with signatures of the winners
in each category.  I have twelve star-studded programs so far, so I guess
it's a bona fide collection.  Help me, before I strike again.

Usually, I've had tickets to get in, but some years no tickets were
available, so I've had to crash, as one dear friend can attest.  Back
in '89, we got in to the Awards, because her friends were catering, but we
left the Ball to check a coat, and were refused re-admittance.  A new friend
inside passed his tickets out to us in an envelope, but we'd already gotten
back inside.  (I picked the pocket of the guard who escorted us out, to get
tickets.)

The Oscars are a hard deal for dating, because I've never known if I'd have
tickets very far in advance, and you just can't ask a girl to crash with
you.

"Honey, could you dress up really nice, ride with me in the limo, and then
face a possible arrest for criminal trespass?"  You get the idea.

My credit list is growing, and I'm closing fast on the Academy.  So all
this ticket stuff will soon seem, well, Academic.  The end of an era, not a
moment too soon.

This year, Oscar tickets were in especially short supply, but my hand-drawn
one whisked me past the metal detectors and tightest-security-in-years,
and there I was.

The biggest crisis of the evening was the bad/good news variety.  My
tuxedo, which I've had since I was an eighteen-year-old standup comic, is
now too big for me.  Hey, I'm slender again!  More slender than when I was
eighteen!  That's the good news.  Now, how do I hold up my pants?  The
answer to this question, as to all questions, is "two big safety pins."
Now I'm ready for anything.

Bridget Fonda is as intensely cute as she was in "Jackie Brown," only now a
brunette.  The only girl cuter is Drew Barrymore, but Drew is cuter than
anyone alive.  (Especially with little daisies in her hair.)

The last time I spoke with Drew, she was a very little girl, having just
done "ET," and she rescued me from a drunk Liza Minelli, who wanted my
tickets to get into the ball. (Really).  Drew seems to have grown up
wonderfully, and my prayers include her rescuing me again, this time from
middle age.

(Sure there's an age difference, but I'm still younger than Robert Duvall,
and Drew's still older than Robert Duvall's date.  Go, Robert!)

I spoke with Julianne Moore, nominated for playing a porn star in "Boogie
Nights," and the beautiful Kim Basinger, who won that Best Supporting
Actress award for playing a prostitute in "LA Confidential."  Who says
there are no good movie roles for women?

When Kim Basinger won, she thanked "everyone I've ever met in my entire
life."  Whew, I made it just under the wire, just having met her an hour or
so before, so Kim was thanking me too.  You're welcome, Kim.

I saw the wonderful African "Amistad" actor, Djimon Mounsou.  (Wasn't
"Amistad" a great movie?  This was really a year for great movies, and
Steven Spielberg has made a lot of movies lately, or "Amistad" would have
gotten more attention.)

Madonna was there, with her hair in little ringlets that made her strangely
resemble the little girl in "Night of the Hunter," and her buff shoulders,
which
diminished that resemblance somewhat.

Billy Zane, the bad guy from "Titanic," had no hair whatever on his head,
alopecia totalis in a tuxedo.  Picture if you will, Daddy Warbucks, except
with color in his eyes.

Cuba Gooding Jr., who made the utmost of his time before the Oscar cameras
last time, was a presenter this year, and had to leave immediately after,
to ride a redeye flight to Florida, so he could make a movie at 6am.  His
mom-in-law came to my rescue after someone pinched my program, and gave me
one of hers.  What a sweet lady.  I promised to donate in her name to the
charity of her choice.  She picked the American Cancer Society.  Done.

Robert Duvall was elegant, the only man in attendance with a windsor-knot
necktie, the rest of us strangling in bow ties.  I really think he had a
more amazing performance than Jack Nicholson, but Jack was about due for
his once-a-decade Best Actor.

I remember being in the Shrine backstage men's room years ago, using a
urinal between Charlton Heston and Jack Nicholson.  I said "I suppose this
is a bad time to ask for an autograph." Luckily for me, this produced a
laugh from them.  This was interrupted suddenly, by the TV announcer on the
monitor saying "The Academy Awards!"

Mr. Heston said "I'm on!"  Zip!  He washed his hands, and ran out onstage.
Jack and I watched Mr. Heston make his opening remarks on TV, in front of
half a billion viewers, as  Mr. Heston slowly wiped the palms of his hands
on his tuxedo lapels, drying them.  It was funny, especially when Jack said
"What a trouper."  Later at the ball, I ran into Jack again, surrounded by
paparazzi, and said "Remember me?"  "Sure, Kid," he grinned through the
camera flashes, "We took a whiz together."

I was thinking of that story as I stood in the same spot this year, next to
Greg Kinnear, nominated for Best Supporting Actor in "As Good As It Gets."
I successfully fought down the urge to say something stupid, but that just
left an awkward silence, and I froze, staring at him.  He stared back,
finally saying "I was only playing gay in the movie," answering the
question everyody must be asking him. This time it was my turn to laugh.

Truth to tell, Greg made that same statement (in symbolic language) to
everybody there, by having the most beautiful, sexy, buxom, heterosexual
woman you ever saw on his arm.  And I mean ON his arm, in physical contact
all night long.  She's Greg's fiancee, Helen Labdon, and she must be seen
to be believed.

Sam Jackson looked very suave in his tux, nothing like the vicious killer
he played in "Jackie Brown."  He was "too cool for school."

My dear friend Betsy Hale shocked me by being ONSCREEN during the Hollywood
Animal sequence.  "Austin Powers" Mike Meyers introed the segment, which
featured many real and animated animals from Hollywood movie history.
Betsy's clip from "The Birds," where she runs away from the crows pecking
her, was filmed years ago, when she was a child actor.  The irony is,
earlier that evening she said she'd watch for me on TV, but she'd like to
see herself on the Oscars someday.  I told her "Say a prayer, and it'll
happen."  Well, she did, and it did.  I guess you get what you ask for.

Sigourney Weaver was even taller than I remember, when I gave her the Boss
Film studio tour, back when we were all working on "Ghostbusters."

I saw film critic Roger Ebert from a distance, looking fit and trim and
positively skinny this year.  I wanted to talk with him, but he looked like
it was his busiest night of the year, I guess it would be.  I wonder if
he's secretly using two big safety pins on his tux, too.

I talked briefly with Stanley Donen, and am going to get his autograph on
my "Singin' In The Rain" poster, so it can be complete.  It's already
signed by Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and the late, great Gene Kelly.
I worked for Peter Donen years ago, doing visual effects on Mel Brooks's
"Spaceballs," and Peter told me that his dad has odd feelings about his
many wonderful films.  Apparently he doesn't like them much.  Not like
"Singin' In The Rain?"  Not like "Charade?"  Or "Two For The Road?"  Or the
wonderful "Bedazzled?"  Apparently he's disappointed in how his films
always turned out differently from how he imagined them.  Still, it was
wonderful to see him get an award, and sing and dance to receive it.

Cher was there, nearly bare, with a hat on her hair.  She looked like an
engineering project, or the Jetsons' lawn furniture, or the Statue of
Liberty.  She was odd, but she was not in poor taste.  (I've seen Edy
Williams wearing only pearls and a leopard micro-kini with her two Great
Danes.)  Now that I think about it, there used to be a lot of weird
outfits, and it's relatively tame now.

Jim Cameron was as modest and easygoing as ever, bellowing out "Now I'm
King Of The World!" (probably what he's been holding in his subconscious
all these years), revealing himself for what he is, an ego on feet.  I've
worked for him, so I have my opinion, but you're free to think otherwise.
Unless, of course, you work for Jim.

Gloria Stuart, who played old Rose, was wearing a $20 Million jewelled
necklace, with 4 bodyguards surrounding her like bedposts all evening.

Kate Winslet, who played young Rose, surprised me by being a big buxom
girl, rather than the little thing "Titanic's" high camera angles would
suggest.

I saw Gus Van Sant (wearing a Technicolor Dreamcoat) and Paul Thomas
Anderson (not), and some other friends from "Good Will Hunting" and "Boogie
Nights."

Minnie Driver was the heartstopper, in her tight little red dress.  Mmmm.

"Titanic" took all the Oscars it could hold, 11 of 14 possible, on its
voyage to the Biggest Movie With The Most Money At The Bottom Of The Ocean.

June Foray, the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel chatted with me, always
nice to see her.

Oddly, Carrot Top was not in attendance, so don't write hundreds of email
asking me about him, like last year.

Dana Snow, from whom I bought an Oscar joke, and a screenplay at the Oscars
last year, is still working on the screenplay.  Thank you for asking.

It was quite wonderful at the Oscars for nearly four hours, and then the
show went off the air, and we all danced at the Governor's Ball, and they
gave us some mosaic tile as gifts.

(Darndest thing I ever saw, everyody was delighted - thinking they were
chocolate - until they opened 'em.  "Well, tile.  Gosh, tile.  How nice."
They're supposed to be coasters.  I hope nobody eats one.)

I flirted with Claudia Schiffer again, and went to some parties and
tottered into the recording studio the next morning, still en tuxedo, to
tell Phil Proctor, David Ossman, Phil Austin, and Peter Bergman, the guys
of the Firesign Theatre, all about it.  I've been helping out over there,
as they make their newest and funniest comedy record.

That's the way it was, Oscar night in groovy Movie-ville.

Best to you,


Sam Longoria

filmmaking
secret film school

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© 1998 Sam Longoria, All Rights Reserved