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To Patrick Goldstein: Love, Joan

December 3, 2006 | 10:10 pm

Patrick Goldstein sure hates us Oscar bloggers. Every chance he gets the journo who's held sway as the Times' chief Oscarologist for eons comes out swinging his hatchet at us like Joan Crawford in "Strait-Jacket."

Oops! Did I just mention my dear friend Joan in the same sentence as Patrick? Tisk. Tisk. That was just a slip of the, well, ax, since Patrick recently wrote that reading this Gold Derby column "is like cozying up under the covers to watch a Joan Crawford movie — it's a high-camp experience." (Read more — CLICK HERE! )


When I read that, I admit: I howled with laughter and beamed with pride. Somewhere I hoped Joan was beaming, too. (Somewhere probably hot, but that's another matter.) That Patrick sure knows how to cut it. I try very hard to make sure that my entertainment journalism is entertaining and, if I merely come close to the accomplishment of the Queen of Camp then, well, I — do I dare dream it? — may someday achieve the Internet equivalent of "Mildred Pierce"!

That was Joan's Oscar movie, of course. Let us all have a moment of silence and say a prayer, please.

Thank you.

Now, back to that misguided Patrick, who has a chip on his shoulder about us bloggers as big as one of Joan's old shoulder pads.

Last year when launched, Patrick had a hissy fit that would make Miss Crawford proud, dismissing Oscar prognostication as a "demeaning, nauseatingly superficial ritual" that transforms "the Academy Awards from a celebration of movies into a silly exercise in Ouija board-style predictions and lamebrained analysis."

Last month, he popped off again, fuming in November that already "it's the new silly season. The Oscar screeners are already arriving at my doorstep, the 'For your consideration' ads have already been appearing in the papers."


Obviously, he's forgotten that, in previous years, he was known to spout off a full month earlier with his own derby forecast, even assigning actual Oscar racetrack odds to contenders, many of which he hadn't seen yet. Of course, when he does that in print it's not the same kind of "ill-informed speculation" that I do on line. It's not "the triumph of tawdriness and superficiality." Why? I don't know and I doubt that anyone else does either.

Take, for example, four years ago, when — in October, long before he saw "Chicago" or "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (and probably "About Schmidt") — he assigned these odds to the five films he predicted would be the top contenders for the Oscar best-picture prize.

"Chicago" 5-1
"Road to Perdition" 8-1
"Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" 10-1
"Antwone Fisher" 12-1
"About Schmidt" 14-1

Let's give him credit for calling the winner of best-pic right. But please note that "Perdition," "About Schmidt" and "Fisher" didn't make the category.

One year later, around the same time of year, he gave these odds while predicting which films would be the final five of 2003:

"Mystic River" 6-1
"Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" 8-1
"Cold Mountain" 10-1
"Finding Nemo" 14-1
"House of Sand & Fog" 15-1

Only the top two ended up making it in and "Mystic River" didn't win, of course. And quite a few of them he didn't see as of writing, like "Cold Mountain."

Hmmmm. Why do you think it's OK for Patrick to make such informed early judgments?


I think it's obvious that he's just ticked off that riffraff's moved into his neighborhood and, worse, it's cyber-riffraff at that, a whole new media monster to pooh-pooh.

I believe that the best way for us to settle this tension is the same way those dueling divas Joan Crawford and Bette Davis buried the hatchet — by doing the equivalent of a movie together. "Whatever Happened to Patrick and Tom?" could be a podcast set in a house in the remote Hollywood Hills and, even if I ended up in a wheelchair like Joan, I could take it if only Patrick wasn't dead set upon flitting about the place in a Baby Jane skirt and too much eyeliner. Camp is my thing, remember, and this cyberdiva will not be upstaged on that Oscar front!

Although, admittedly, poor Joan was upstaged (at first) at the best-actress battle of 1962. Bette got nominated for "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" but Joan did not. Alas, Joan exacted her ruthless revenge by accepting the Oscar statuette that year for eventual champ Anne Bancroft, who couldn't be there because she was starring on Broadway 3,000 miles away. Legend has it that, as Joan took the Oscar statuette in hand, Bette, backstage, fumed. When Joan showed off the Oscar in the press room, she purred, "I wish I didn't have to give it up!" Years later, Bette accused Joan of not giving it up for a year. In fact, Joan presented it to Bancroft just a week later on the Broadway stage of "Mother Courage."

Top photos: Joan's famous strength of character was matched by the might of her biceps in the classic "Strait-Jacket," but she got all weak-knee-ed around Bette Davis, for some strange reason. Middle photo: The late, great Charles Pierce as Crawford. I have the guts to do that, but, alas, not the legs. Bottom photo: Joan was too afraid (or drunk, say some reports) to attend the Oscar ceremony of 1945 when she was nommed for "Mildred Pierce," so she fibbed and said she was sick. While sipping cocktails at home, she listened to the ceremony on ABC Radio and panicked when she won. Quickly, she fixed her hair and makeup just in time to hop into bed when "Mildred Pierce" director Michael Curtiz arrived to give her the statuette as paparazzi filled her bedroom to take photos of the hilariously campy historic scene.
(Columbia/ Warner Bros./ Estate of Charles Pierce)