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Gold Derby

Tom O'Neil has the inside track on Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all the award shows.

Category: Steven Spielberg

Gold Derby nuggets: 'Avatar' DVD in 2-D | Rock and Roll Hall of Famers | 'Boardwalk Empire' bows promo

March 16, 2010 |  3:33 pm

Avatar DVD • A 2-D DVD and Blu-ray release of "Avatar" has been announced for April 22 by Fox. That just happens to be the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, which coincides nicely with the eco-friendly message of the film. Buzz is that the studio will re-release the movie in 3-D later in the year, with additional footage, and that a 3-D home version of the film will follow.

• All of the above will add millions more to the coffers of all involved. Bloomberg estimates that Fox will reap at least $350 million from "Avatar." Fox also picks up a distribution fee for the film which could gross $3 billion worldwide. In an interview last month, writer-director James Cameron said the record receipts are, "well beyond our wildest dreams, we were hoping for sort of brea keven plus 10%, which would have been a high number but well south of $1 billion." BLOOMBERG

Steve Pond tracks down why Stephen Colbert's comic rant against the Oscars, which included clips from the kudocast, has gone missing from "The Colbert Report" website. Turns out, "for the first day after the Academy Awards telecast, other media outlets are allowed to show three minutes of footage from the show.  For the second through the seventh day, they're permitted to show one minute. And after seven days, no Oscar footage can be used without special permission from the Academy." THE ODDS

Phil Collins Rock and Roll Hall of FameDavid Bauder recaps Monday's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction of ABBA, Jimmy Cliff, Genesis, the Hollies, and Iggy Pop and the Stooges. Also feted during the ceremony at Gotham's Waldorf Astoria hotel were one-time record exec David Geffen and seven songwriters from the 1950s including Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil ("You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," "On Broadway"), Ellie Greenwich & Jeff Barry ("Leader of the Pack," "Be My Baby"), Otis Blackwell ("All Shook Up," "Don't Be Cruel"), Mort Shuman ("Save the Last Dance for Me,") and Jesse Stone ("Sh-Boom," "Money Honey").  AP

• As for the ceremony itself, Randy Lewis suggests that the inductees by saluted by those who know their music best -- tribute bands. As Randy writes, "What to do when you’re being admitted into the halls of pop music history and only half your group is there? Tribute bands! It’s one of the few corners of the otherwise flailing music business showing growth. Just check the entertainment guide for Las Vegas: They’re everywhere." POP & HISS

• "The Pacific" drew 3.1 million viewers to a heavily hyped premiere Sunday. As James Hibberd reports, "that's 22% higher than than the debut of HBO's last miniseries, 'John Adams,' and 'The Pacific' tally grew to 4 million with its encore airing. Still, HBO has to be somewhat disappointed with this number. 'The Pacific' is the biggest production in the network's history and this is only 69% higher than the time period norm." THE LIVE FEED

Boardwalk Empire • HBO used the Sunday premiere of its showpiece mini-series of the year -- "The Pacific" -- to promote the paycaster's marquee series for 2010 -- "Boardwalk Empire." Oscar winner Martin Scorsese ("The Departed") is executive producing the series about bootleggers in 1920s Atlantic City and directed the first episode that is featured in the promo running on HBO. HBO

Terence Winter -- who adapted Nelson Johnson's novel "Boardwalk Empire" -- won two Emmys for scripting episodes of "The Sopranos" and another two when that HBO hit won best drama series in 2004 and 2007. One of the stars of that show -- Edie Falco -- won three Emmys for her performance as the matriarch of the mob family. When asked Monday if there will ever be a "Sopranos" reunion, Falco, who now stars on the Showtime comedy "Nurse Jackie," showed her funny side by responding she’s open to it if she could play Tony and James Gandolfini could play Carmela.


Poll: Will 'The Pacific' win the Emmy battle?

New soap opera engulfs GLAAD Awards

Peter Graves: Winning an Emmy seemed like a mission impossible

Gold Derby nuggets: 'Titanic' to sail in 3-D | 'The Pacific' to sail for free

So what did we learn from this year's Oscars?

Gold Derby nuggets: Katherine Heigl exiting 'Grey's Anatomy'? | Banned 'Hurt Locker' picks up Oscar | Extended 'Avatar' in the works?

What movies are the next Oscar front-runners?

Gold Derby nuggets: Gabourey Sidibe's film future? | Exploring 'The Cove' | Steve Pond ponders Oscars

How 'Casablanca' beat nine other nominees to win best picture at the 1943 Oscars

'The Hurt Locker' ranked lucky 13 on Rotten Tomatoes Oscars countdown

Gold Derby nuggets: 'The Hurt Locker' expands screens | 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' in primetime |'Mad Men' gets Barbie makeover

Complete list of Oscar winners

Top photo: "Avatar" DVD cover. Credit: Fox

Middle photo: Phil Collins at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. Credit: Getty Images

Bottom photo: Steve Buscemi in "Boardwalk Empire." Credit: HBO

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Shocking DGA Award win for 'The Hurt Locker's' Kathryn Bigelow

January 31, 2010 |  7:06 am

"The Hurt Locker" helmer Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman ever to win the top award from the Directors Guild of America. It was a major victory over James Cameron, Bigelow's ex-husband, whose "Avatar" recently became the highest-grossing film in world history.

By contrast, "The Hurt Locker," which cost $11 million to produce, has earned only $12 million in the U.S. ($16 million worldwide).

The hurt locker kathryn bigelow

Recently, Kathryn Bigelow also won the director's prize at the Critics Choice Awards and from the New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. and the National Society of Film Critics.

The other DGA Award nominees were Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air"), Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Basterds") and Lee Daniels ("Precious").

Over the last 61 years, only six DGA champs did not repeat on Oscar night:

1968 — Anthony Harvey, "The Lion in Winter" (DGA); Carol Reed, "Oliver!" (Oscar)

1972 — Francis Ford Coppola, "The Godfather" (DGA); Bob Fosse, "Cabaret" (Oscar)

1985 — Steven Spielberg, "The Color Purple" (DGA); Sydney Pollack, "Out of Africa" (Oscar)

1995 — Ron Howard, "Apollo 13" (DGA); Mel Gibson, "Braveheart" (Oscar)

2000 — Ang Lee, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (DGA); Steven Soderbergh, "Traffic" (Oscar)

2002 — Rob Marshall, "Chicago" (DGA); Roman Polanski, "The Pianist" (Oscar)

Forty-seven of the films that won the DGA prize went on to win best picture at the Academy Awards.

Here's a list of the winners over the previous 25 years. Note that Steven Spielberg ("The Color Purple") and Ron Howard ("Apollo 13") weren't nominated at the Oscars.

* = Victor did not win best director at the Oscars

1984 - Milos Forman, "Amadeus"
1985 - Steven Spielberg, "The Color Purple" *
1986 - Oliver Stone, "Platoon"
1987 - Bernardo Bertolucci, "The Last Emperor"
1988 - Barry Levinson, "Rain Man"

Continue reading »

'The Dark Knight' dominates Saturn Awards with 11 nods while 'Twilight' is almost shut out

March 11, 2009 |  4:39 am

"The Dark Knight" dominates the competition at the upcoming Saturn Awards, leading with 11 nominations, including a best picture bid as well as acting nods for leads Christian Bale and Maggie Gyllenhaal and supporting players Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart. Three years ago, "Batman Begins" won three of its nine Saturn Awards races — fantasy film, lead actor (Christian Bale), and writing (Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer).


This 35th annual edition of the awards honors films across four genres — sci-fi, fantasy, horror and action/adventure/thriller. That last catch-all category is where "The Dark Knight" is competing against "Changeling," "Gran Torino," "Quantum of Solace," "Traitor," and "Valkyrie."

"Valkyrie," directed by sci-fi veteran Bryan Singer, earned mixed reviews but did surprisingly well in terms of the Saturns. Besides that best picture bid, the film's seven Saturn nods include one for leading man Tom Cruise and another for Singer. Cruise is a previous seven-time Saturn nominee with one win for "Vanilla Sky" back in 2001, while Singer is a five-time contender winning for "X-Men" in 2000.

As the acting races span all four genres, Cruise's competition besides Bale (a two-time nominee) includes Oscar nominee Brad Pitt, who picked up his third Saturn nod with his bid for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." That epic time-traveling fantasy earned nine nods in total. Sci-fi hit "Iron Man" scored eight including a lead actor nom for Robert Downey Jr., who won this award in 1993 for "Heart and Souls" and had one other nod. Harrison Ford contends for his work in the sci-fi romp "Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which has six nominations in total. Ford won lead actor for "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in 1982 and has now been nominated for all four films in the franchise.

Heartthrob Robert Pattinson was snubbed for his leading role in "Twilight." Did past four-time nominee Will Smith, who won the award last year for "I Am Legend," edge him out with his nod for "Hancock"? That critical flop but commercial hit also landed a bid for best fantasy film as well as a second supporting actress nod for Charlize Theron. The only nomination for "Twilight" came in the fantasy film race where it faces off against "Hancock" as well as "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Spiderwick Chronicles" and "Wanted."

Pattinson's "Twilight" love interest, Kristen Stewart, was likewise left off the list of lead actress nominees. Oscar contender Angelina Jolie competes here as "Changeling" earned her a third Saturn nod. Among her competiton are two other Oscar winners — Cate Blanchett, who picked up Saturn nod No. 4 for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," and Gwyneth Paltrow, who landed her second Saturn nom for "Iron Man" — as well as four-time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore, who is now a four-time Saturn nominee with her bid for "Blindness," newbie Emily Mortimer ("Transsiberian"), and one-time past Saturn nominee Gyllenhaal.

Continue reading »

Can Toni Collette spin 'The United States of Tara' into Emmy gold?

January 16, 2009 |  2:03 pm

Looks like The United States of Tara" — written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody ("Juno") and starring Oscar and Emmy nominee Toni Collette as a woman besieged by multiple personalities — will be a formidable force at the Emmys, Golden Globes and other awards ahead.

The parent network of "The United States of Tara," Showtime, has emerged as a major player at the Emmys and Golden Globes in recent years. Examples: Last year David Duchovny won the Globe for best TV comedy actor for "Californication," which was also nominated for best series. Both got repeat noms this year. "Weeds" and star Mary-Louise Parker also scored double bids. Ditto "Dexter" and star Michael C. Hall, a program that just pulled off a historic breakthrough at the Emmys where it joined FX's "Damages" and AMC's "Mad Men" as the first non-HBO cable shows ever to be nominated for best series.


Voters of showbiz awards are suckers for these kind of split-personality roles we see in "The United States of Tara." Maybe they feel like they're getting a real bargain — several performances for the price of one vote?

Joanne Woodward won at the Oscars for ("The Three Faces of Eve," 1957). Daytime Emmys champ Erika Slezak of "One Life to Live" claimed her fourth and fifth daytime awards in 1995 and 1996, respectively, for acting out six personalities, one of them a 10-year-old boy.

At the prime-time Emmys, Sally Field pulled off an upset for best actress in a made-for-TV movie in 1977 over Jane Alexander ("Eleanor & Franklin: The White House Years") by the sheer force of personalities — 16 of them in "Sybil" — and stunned award pundits who had been betting on an easy win for Alexander.

At the most recent Emmys, Cynthia Nixon prevailed for portraying multiple personalities in the "Alternate" episode of "Law & Order: SVU." But no victory for this kind of role is more notable than Lindsay Wagner of "The Bionic Woman," who stunned kudos watchers by beating Sada Thompson of "Family" as best TV drama actress of 1977. Lindsay's secret weapon: She played good and evil twin versions of her role.

While reviews for "The United States of Tara," debuting this Sunday, are mixed, most made mention of the show as a showcase for Toni Collette. The Australian actress plays a Kansas artist, wife and mother of two who by turns becomes a troublesome teenager, a proper '50s housewife and an improper good old boy. Collette earned a 2000 supporting actress Oscar nod for "The Sixth Sense" (she lost to Angelina Jolie for "Girl, Interrupted"); a 2000 Tony nom for best actress in a musical for "The Wild Party" (she lost to Heather Headley for "Aida"); and a 2007 Emmy bid for supporting actress in a movie/mini for "Tsunami: The Aftermath" (she lost to fellow Aussie Judy Davis for "The Starter Wife").

Continue reading »

High Oscar hopes for 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' and Brad Pitt

September 29, 2008 |  8:59 am

Curiosity is huge around the $150-million production of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," starring Brad Pitt in a loose adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald 's tale of a man who is born 70 years old and ages in reverse.

In today's New York Times, Michael Cieply notes, "If it is all that Paramount executives hope, the movie, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt, will also mark the birth of the next phase at the aging studio. Brad Grey, Paramount’s chairman, has been eager to show that he can sell tickets and win Oscars without the help of his DreamWorks partners — Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Stacey Snider — who are leaving to form a company of their own."


Screenplay is by Eric Roth, who won an Oscar for penning best picture champ "Forrest Gump" and was nominated for "The Insider" and "Munich."

"Around Paramount these days, that world is being referred to as 'Forrest Gumpian' — a hopeful reference to the studio’s earlier epic," notes Cieply.

Cieply tells the curious tale of how "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" finally made it to the screen.

Maverick producer Ray Stark took up the project years ago, originally imagining it as a comedy starring Martin Short. In the early 1990s, Stark teamed up with Kathleen Kennedy "in setting up 'Button' at Universal as something more than a comedy, with Spielberg as its intended director," Cieply reports.

But Spielberg got distracted by chasing dinosaurs ("Jurassic Park"), so the project moved over to Paramount, where Spike Jonze ("Adaptation") was initially tapped to direct. Later, it was put in the hands of director David Fincher ("Zodiac"), who also had ties to Warner Bros., which pulled that studio in. Warner Bros. took "Button's" international distribution rights. Paramount kept reins on domestic.

The good thing about the delay is that, with continued progress of digital technology, Brad Pitt is now in the movie from the first frame, says Paramount VP Rob Moore. READ MORE

Photo credit: Paramount

Gold Derby nuggets: Rosie O'Donnell returns to TV ... 'Nottingham' loses Christian Bale? ... George Lucas on 'Indy V'

July 29, 2008 | 12:56 pm

Roger Friedman of Fox News offers an exclusive report on the details of the TV show that will bring daytime diva Rosie O'Donnell to prime time. He says, "The new show could turn out to be a 2009 version of Carol Burnett or even 'The Ed Sullivan Show.' The latter would even be better with Rosie presenting it all live — as in not on tape — from a Broadway theater, possibly on Sunday night. The show would have skits but more important Rosie O’Donnell could feature all kinds of acts from comedy to drama to music -- exactly what’s missing from prime time." The mercurial talent won six consecutive daytime Emmys for hosting her talker, another five for producing it, and a prime-time Emmy for producing the 1998 Tony Awards.


Lou Lumenick of the New York Post is following up on the just announced postponement of "Nottingham," Ridley Scott's revisionist take on the tale of Robin Hood, with bad boy Russell Crowe as the now good sheriff. While initial reports had shooting delayed due to scripting problems, Lou wonders, "If it's because of uncertainty over who will play the still unofficially cast role of Robin Hood, who is apparently a villain in this version (Sienna Miller was recently announced Maid Marion). As late as last week, the IMDB listed Christian Bale (Crowe's co-star in '3:10 to Yuma') as 'rumored' to swap his Batman tights for a more greenish hue. Today, IMDB lists Sam Riley ('Control') as 'rumored' to be playing Robin. Did Christian Bale bail because of his recent arrest? You'd think Universal would be much happier with the red-hot Christian Bale — even if they have to wait for him to straighten out his legal problems and maybe finish the two films he is reportedly currently shooting."

Anne Thompson of Variety faults the Times of London for "burying its lead in a long, unrevealing puff piece on George Lucas in conjunction with the upcoming release of the new 'Star Wars: Clone Wars' animated movie." Says Lucas to the Times on the possibility of another "Indiana Jones" picture: "If I can come up with another idea that they like, we’ll do another. Really, with the last one, Steven (Spielberg) wasn’t that enthusiastic. I was trying to persuade him. But now Steve is more amenable to doing another one. Yet we still have the issues about the direction we’d like to take. I’m in the future; Steven’s in the past. He’s trying to drag it back to the way they were, I’m trying to push it to a whole different place. So, still we have a sort of tension. This recent one came out of that. It’s kind of a hybrid of our own two ideas, so we’ll see where we are able to take the next one."

(Photos: ABC, Warner Bros.)

Whoopi Goldberg on being Tony Awards' host

June 15, 2008 | 10:03 am


How will Whoopi Goldberg fare as host of the Tony Awards this Sunday night? No doubt she'll be socko. Whoopi Goldberg consistently scores great reviews when presiding over award ceremonies. In our video chat, which was taped one day after Tony nominations were unveiled, the past Oscars emcee (four times) and Grammycast ringmaster reveals the secret of succeeding in the job.

This is the first time Whoopi will take command of the Tonys' stage, which must mean a lot to her. It was Broadway that made her a superstar in 1984 after director Mike Nichols discovered her off-Broadway show and moved it to the rialto where Steven Spielberg saw it and cast her in "The Color Purple." Over the course of her career since, she has emerged as one of only 10 famous folk to win the whole showbiz grand slam: Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy.

Curiously, she didn't win her Tony for her (infamously outrageous) Broadway show — or for its revival 20 years later. What did she prevail for? Watch our video chat!

Can 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' earn green and gold?

May 22, 2008 | 10:52 am

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" opens today to good, if-not-always-great, notices. (CLICK HERE for L.A. Times scribe Kenneth Turan's review of this fourth film in the series.)

Gitesh Pandya of Box Office Guru is predicting a five-day domestic take of $165 million, leaving "Kingdom" just shy of the $173 million haul of "Stars Wars: Episode III" over the 2005 Memorial Day weekend. However, Steve Mason of Hollywood Wiretap thinks Indy and company will bump those other George Lucas-created characters from the top of the box office chart.


Regardless of the first week's numbers, "Kingdom" is sure to rank among the top five films of the year when it comes to box office receipts. But can it be one of the five films to compete in the best picture race at the Academy Awards? Back in 1981, the original "Raiders of the Lost Ark," which was No. 1 at the box office that year, was a best picture nominee that lost out to "Chariots of Fire." Since then, the Oscars have tended to favor more serious fare with nominations, though there have been a few notable exceptions.

Just last year, the well-reviewed action adventure "The Bourne Ultimatum" was the No. 7 moneymaker (it had a $227-million domestic gross), but had no luck breaking into the big Oscar races. It did go three for three on the technical side, winning editing, sound, and sound editing.

The last popcorn movies to earn best picture nods were the three movies that made up "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The final film, "The Return of the King," scored with both Oscar voters (going 11 for 11) and audiences (the No. 1 movie of 2003 with a $377-million domestic gross). That same year, the high seas adventure "Master and Commander" picked up 10 nominations, including best picture. And in 1997, another movie set on the high seas, the all-time box office champ "Titanic," also won 11 Oscars, including best picture.


Continue reading »

Can 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' win over the Oscars?

May 19, 2008 |  4:38 pm

The first reviews are in for "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and they are good if not great. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times is relatively enthusiastic, calling this fourth film in the series "one of the better ones." However, some of his colleagues who attended the Cannes screening Sunday were less kind. For the full review recap, CLICK HERE.


Regardless of the reviews, the film, opening worldwide this week, is sure to be one of the top moneymakers of the year. While it may earn lots of green, how will it do in the gold department? Popcorn movies like "Kingdom" used to do well at the Oscars but their presence has waned in recent years. Could current Oscar darling Cate Blanchett land a sixth nod for her over-the-top performance in "Kingdom" as a Soviet spy?

The original "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was both the top-grossing movie of 1981 ($210 million domestic) and one of the best reviewed. It reaped 8 Oscar noms and won four –- editing, art direction, visual effects and sound. "Raiders" lost the best picture race to "Chariots of Fire." Steven Spielberg lost his second nom for helming to Warren Beatty ("Reds"), who had already beaten him at the Golden Globes and DGA. Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe lost to Vittorio Storaro for "Reds." For Slocombe, the "Raiders" trilogy capped off a 50-year career in film.

Still going strong is composer John Williams, who lost the Oscar to Vangelis ("Chariots of Fire") but won a Grammy for his "Raiders" score. With 45 Oscar nominations, Williams is tied with composer Alfred Newman for second place (Walt Disney is first with 59 nods). As he has won 3 of his 5 Oscars for Spielberg films ("Jaws," "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," and "Schindler's List") how fitting it would be if Williams broke that tie with his score for "Kingdom."

Continue reading »

Will 'Indiana Jones,' Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford come swashbuckling back into the awards fight?

May 8, 2008 | 10:18 am

With Steven Spielberg making a rare directorial return to bring us "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," we must take this May 22 release quite seriously. Here is the awards history of the first three installments.


"Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981)
OSCARS: Nommed for eight, won four. Won best art direction, visual effects, film editing and sound. Nominated for best picture, director, music and cinematography. Special achievement award bestowed to sound effects editors.
DGA: Nomination for Seven Spielberg
WGA: Nominated for best comedy writing
GOLDEN GLOBES: Only one nomination -- best director
GRAMMYS: Won best original score (John Williams)
PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Won best picture

"Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984)
OSCARS: Won for best visual effects. Also nommed for best musical score

"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989)
OSCARS: Won best sound effects editing. Nommed for music and sound mixing.
GOLDEN GLOBES: Nommed for best supporting actor (Sean Connery)

PODCASTS: Johnny Depp & Stephen Sondheim dish 'Sweeney' with us

December 6, 2007 | 12:21 am

DreamWorks unveiled "Sweeney Todd" to 700 members of the Hollywood elite tonight at the big theater on the Paramount lot, a grand fete hosted by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Stacey Snider in honor of attendees Johnny Depp, Tim Burton and Stephen Sondheim.

Listen to our podcast chats with Johnny Depp — CLICK HERE — and with composer Stephen Sondheim — CLICK HERE . (Note: You may need to hold down your computer's control key while clicking.)


Even though Johnny portrays a demon barber who ruthlessly slashes the throats of innocent chaps who drop by his shop (then drop down through a trap door in the floor after getting the closest shaves of their lives), he tells us, "I love the character. He's super complex because there's a whole lot going on there. Fifty-one percent of the people say he's a madman and 49 percent say he's the original victim in the plot."

What does Johnny think?

"I belive he's a victim," he said. "I believe he's a tragic figure."

When I asked Sondheim if he was skeptical when he heard that Johnny — who has never before sung on screen — would portray the lead in the film adaptation of his Broadway musical, he replied, "No, I've always preferred actors who sing instead of singers who act and generally I've tried to cast that way with the shows in New York. They have to be musical. They have to be able to carry a tune. They have to have a sense of rhythm.

"Legitimate voices, so to speak, can be too big for the screen, particularly this," he added. "The screen is much more intimate, a realistic medium. In order for singing to work on the screen, it has to be acted and it has to be small."


ABOVE FROM LEFT: Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Richard Zanuck, Stephen Sondheim.


ABOVE: Johnny, we hardly knew ye before tonight, but Depp hung out with producer Richard Zanuck at left and chatted casually with scores of attendees.

Beware, Oscar fantatics: We worship a false god, you know

November 24, 2007 | 11:16 am

Before we get too carried away with Oscarmania this season, let's take a sensible second to remind ourselves of something very important: all of those sparkling statuettes Schindler1_2 are merely plated in gold. Worse, they're bestowed for something that doesn't exist.

Here's the single most fascinating piece of awards trivia that I know. Only once in modern history — that is, since the explosion in the number of showbiz awards that occurred by the 1970s — have all of the top Hollywood awards agreed on a choice for best picture. In 1993, "Schindler's List" won best-picture prizes at the Oscars, Golden Globes, National Board of Review, Producers Guild of America and the film critics' trifecta: L.A., N.Y. and National Society of Film Critics. It also claimed the top prizes from the directors' and writers' guilds.

However, that same year the People's Choice Award went to a different Steven Spielberg movie: "Jurassic Park." While it might be tempting to pooh-pooh that win — after all, come on, it's just the People's Choice Award — we can't. Back in those days, that award was determined by the Gallup Poll, which measures public opinion quite accurately. Today the award has little significance since it no longer applies scientific measures — winners are picked on line.

How ironic: In the end, when Hollywood finally made up its collective mind and decreed — "Yes, a best picture of the year does exist and we have found it!" — the rest of America piped in to say "No! No! No! Not that one! We say the best picture is the one with the dinosaurs running amok."




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