OSCAR (AND HIS OTHER YOUNGER COUSIN ARNOLD)

I have a Facebook friend whose husband is a Hollywood screenwriter…for privacy reasons, I’m mentioning no names, but he has written several screenplays that were made into successful movies.

My friend (hereinafter to be known as Zelda) often accompanies her talented spouse on the set of the movies he’s working on, and of course meets many famous celebs, actors and Hollywood types. (It’s hard to avoid celebs in LaLaLand, otherwise known as Los Angeles…you pretty much trip all over them out there…I once spent 15 minutes talking to Mary Stuart Masterson in front of the Meat Department in a Whole Foods store.)

Anyway, Zelda tells me the story of the time she was backstage on a movie set and fell into conversation with the leading lady, a notoriously self-absorbed ego freak, in between takes. The actress launched into a detailed and highly complimentary depiction of her own acting in her most recent role. She was, according to Zelda, not reticent to express her pleasure with her work.

After about 10 minutes of blowing her own horn vigorously, the diva, grasping my friend’s arm, exclaimed, well, that’s enough about what I thought of my performance, what did YOU think of my performance?

Which I why I didn’t watch the Oscars last Sunday.

Believe me, I have nothing against movies and/or actors…I love movies. Between my own DVD collection, movies on YouTube (the free ones) and all the classics on TCM, I suspect I average watching 12-15 movies every month. That wouldn’t make me a died-in-the-wool, second coming of Gene Siskel, serious expert on films, but I’m a fan nonetheless.

But all these ubiquitous award shows, the Oscars, the Emmys, the Grammys, the People’s Choice, the Golden Globes, the Crappies or whatever they call them, the ESPYs, the Trotskys, the Church Keys, geez all ready, enough.

Gag me with a film canister and a microphone.

Because all these award shows are essentially the same exercise, over and over again. A bunch of preening, self-centered praise junkies get together and tell each other how much they like themselves, then give each other a pat on the back and a small statue.

I know that they’re not all weasels…as I said, in my 13 years living in L.A., I met a number of actors, most of whom were pretty much decent, average folks with a strange job. (Played guitar with Adrian Zmed’s kid once, and another time had a three-minute convo with Elliott Gould in a Border’s bookstore, just enough time for me to understand that he is a very strange dude.) Yeah, some of them are assholes, but can you name me any portion of our society that doesn’t have its share of undesirables, nuts and jerks? Why do you think there are so many proctologists?

But if I did put any credence in award shows, I would want to alter them somewhat, you know, create a new show that updates the categories for the awards and recognizes some of the up to now ignored segments of the performing arts.

Since we’re talking about movies/actors, my suggestions will be limited to that field of artistic expression…someday I’ll take on the music industry and the Hammys, er, Grammys.

My award show will be sanctioned by the American Society of Screen Hacks and Turkeys (ASSHAT) and my award statue will be a playful rendition of an Ebert©, which you will recall from my post of 1/24 (I’M NOT BEING CHASED, BUT I AM RUNNING) is a small, furry mammal of the Saskatchewanis ebertis genus that has rather prominent, flat ears, enormous genitalia and is indigenous to Canada.

Here are some examples of the new categories and potential winners you can look forward to from the ASSHAT’s The Eberts© Awards show…

Best Actor Playing the Same Role in Multiple Comedies

                The first such Ebert© award would go to Bill Murray, who played pretty much the same character in about 200 movies before he finally branched out to become Harold Ramis.

Or how about…?

Biggest Bunch of Untalented Hacks Raising A Stench In A Movie

                As an exemplar for this Ebert©, you need look no further than the old Star Trek mission…yeah, I was a fan but that didn’t render me blind, deaf or stupid; with the possible exception of James Doohan, the gentleman who played Engineer Scott, the rest of them were abysmal, William Shatner and DeForest Kelley in particular. Leonard Nimoy didn’t count…during the entire run of the show (and the subsequent movies), all he did was wear that same dopey expression on his face and make obscene Vulcan hand gestures.

Or…?

Worst Musical Score In An Otherwise Fabulous Movie

                If I ever get the ASSHAT Awards show off the ground, I might give this Ebert© to one of my most fave movies ever, Harper…if you’ve never seen it, it is an outstanding, 5-star flick. Based on uber-mystery writer Ross Macdonald’s award-winning novel The Moving Target (great, great book), the movie stars Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, Janet Leigh, Arthur Hill, Robert Wagner, Shelley Winters, Strother Martin, Julie Harris and Robert Webber. The cinematography is excellent, the acting and direction first-rate, the screenplay beautifully written and the background music absolutely putrid.

How about…?

Most Atrocious Case Of Miscasting In A Drama

                Best example of this travesty would give the Ebert© to Alixe Gordin, the casting director for the movie The Boys From Brazil, in which he cast Gregory Peck to play the Third Reich’s Schutzstaffel Dr. Josef Mengele. Gregory Peck? What, are you kidding me? You had Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem’s kindly, highly moral, upstanding-citizen-and-all-around-great-guy father playing the Nazi’s “Angel of Death? WTF? (And to show what an incredible actor Peck was, he was brilliant as Mengele, just as he was as Atticus.)

***AND THIS JUST IN FROM THE WATRUK NEWSROOM…scientists, having nothing better to do, recently discovered why zebras have stripes…polka dots weren’t available at the time. And if you made a bunch of brassieres from striped animal material, you could call them Zee Bras.*** 

(https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/20/science/zebra-stripes-flies.html)

Another proposed new category could be…?

Most Totally Unbelievable Screenplay

                And this Ebert© would go to…FLASHDANCE! Really, this kid is all of what, 18-19? And she’s already a fully-certified arc-welder, an accomplished dancer of on-stage erotic fantasy scenes, has an amazing loft apartment, complete with rehearsal hall, dog kennel, pizza joint and currency exchange and her boyfriend drives a Porsche 911 Turbo, lives in house the size of Buckingham Palace and is the owner of the company where she works, having built an empire of industrial holdings by the time he was 13. Yeah, that’s real life…just happened to me last week. (I look pretty stupid in the leotard.)

Or we could have an ASSHAT Award for…?

Worst Idea For A Movie Remake

                If the ASSHAT Awards ever gets off the ground, a good example for an Ebert© for this category would be the 1998 remake of one of the all-time classic thriller/scare-the-crap-outta’-ya movies, Psycho. Really? Anne Heche, the lost in the desert, done up on Ectasy Anne Heche? Really? I mean, it’s a classic, Hall Of Fame horror/mystery flick made by the recognized master of the genre Alfred Hitchcock, so you’re going to remake it and in some manner improve on the original? Whoever funded this abortion should have been drawn and quartered.

Or…?

Biggest Box Office Flop

                My best example for this Ebert© would be the 1997 remake of the Vladimir Nabokov classic Lolita, which cost, according to WikiPedia, my go-to source for arcane and highly esoteric information, SIXTY-TWO MILLION DOLLARS to make and grossed a paltry $1,100,000 in return, for an adjusted-for-inflation loss of NINETY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS. Give or take a mill or two. I suppose if you’re a wealthy Republican investor and need a strong tax write-off, this would work, but man, that’s ugly.

And lastly…?

Best Unintentionally Hysterical Melodrama

                Hands down, if I ever make the ASSHAT Award show a reality, this Ebert© would go the 1936 classic Reefer Madness. Having sampled cannabis in my wild and mostly out-of-control youth (this morning) on several occasions, I can assure you that, other than the wild sex scenes involving a trombone, an arc-welder and a 55-gallon drum of CoolWhip, the actions and reactions of people who are seriously toasted, as they are depicted in the movie, are some of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on the screen; the humor is driven by its serious melodramatic tone.

Oh, FYI, I would absolutely kill for a box of Publix’ Apple Fritters right now.

Love and celluloid,

Cap’n John