Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Oscar, oscar, oscar pt. 2

So of course Sean Penn is getting some pipe for his clearly unprepared Oscar acceptance speech, which opened with "One thing actors know, besides the fact that there were no WMD's..." But waitaminit! There were no WMD's! And people who suggested there weren't were being called traitors!

Who's turned out to be smarter: George W. Bush or Jeff Spicoli? Both seemed to have had the same high school record.

Ananotherthing... Think of those technical guys holed away in computer labs, basements and workshops, slaving away to devlop some new motion capture system or way to keep a handheld camera from shaking. Finally, your hard work pays off and you're going to the little dinner where the Academy gives out the technical Oscar. And there's Charlize Theron, happy to be handing out the awards. Wouldn't you wish you could pull a Brody and plant a big wet kiss on her, too?

Monday, March 01, 2004

Oscar, Oscar?, Oscar!

Despite my affected cynicism, I'm just a sucker for the Academy Awards. I usually think of myself as being able to reliably pick the minor and technical awards based on previous observations (which I'll summarize below). But had I gotten up the gumption to enter, say, the Outguess Ebert contest, I would never have thought to punch a straight party ballot for "Lord of the Rings." Wanna bet the winners of these contests are all D&D geeks who will watch their DVD prizes on a player balanced atop the 13" TVs in their parents' basements? Sorry, I'm stereotyping, but only because I have too much in common with them anyway.

Every year we have the complaints and jokes about the Oscar broadcast going on too long, and the Academy reacts by cutting the alloted time for recipeints to give their thank-yous. But let's see, they gave out 24 awards this year; if each winner got a whole 'nother minute to talk--and most wouldn't use it all--that would add less than half an hour to the proceedings. That would be time better spent dispensing with that terrible "Oscar Count-Down" that ABC had on at the announced start time of 7 pm, where Joan Rivers wannabes with microphones badgered whatever actor was unfortunate enough to be seated near the aisle. Even Keisha Castle-Hughes seemed mortified at being introduced to her movie-star crush, Johnny Depp.

Another place they could have cut the time was Billy Crystal's song montage. After 13 times, we're all coming up with funnier songs before he does. Add that to the half-hour "count-down," and it was 50 minutes before the first award.

Another dead spot came when they clustered the tributes and the Special Award in the middle. As Mark Evanier blogged, a montage of Bob Hope's hosting clips might leave one wondering whether the guy made any movies, and ending it with a shot of him standing up from his seat in what appeared to be the Kodak theatre looked like it was another cheesy posthumous computer effect done for no reason.

Other things I notice they've done away with in the interest of time:

  • The Irving Thalberg Award
  • The Jean Herscholt Humanitartian Award
  • The accountants who read the official balloting procedure
  • The practice of having the voiceover announcer introduce some star who, in turn, introduced the presenters. That was a big time-waster that was nothing but an ego-stroke for the presenters.

And they could stand to go to commercial without the instant replay of the people who just won.

Oh, yeah. My favorite moment was hearing Adrien Brody practicing his pucker before announcing the Best Actress winner.

Gotta go for now. I'll eplain my Oscar picking skills in a later posting.

A Flash at the Bell

So today's the day the place I work at merged with Moore Wallace and changed its stock ticker from DNY to RRD. To commemorate the event, our office was invited to the posh lounge to watch our new CEO ring the opening bell at the new York Stock Exchange, an honor already bestowed to the likes on Martha Stewart, Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Mr. Potato Head.

We're gathered around CNBC, waiting for the big moment. The announcer mumbles something about the merger. The CEO steps up to the bell. Two dings... CUT to the opening bell being rung at the NASDAQ.

That was it. Janet Jackson's boob got more airtime than this big event.

And if you click on the stock symbol link, you'll shortly see that most of the online stock market sites have no historical chart information for this "new" company. Oh, yes... the style guide says that on first reference, it's always the "tech-heavy" NASDAQ.