Wednesday, February 25, 2015

LIZ SMITH: Final Thoughts About Oscar Night ...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
by Liz Smith

Final Thoughts (We Think!) About Oscar Night.

“THEY FILLED
our lives so much, the films they were in made us laugh, think and cry. Through their work they shared a piece of our soul. We will miss them with the sadness with which we miss an old friend," said Meryl Streep as she prefaced the rundown on actors and others lost in 2014. Meryl always brings the right feeling to anything she attempts.

But where was my old friend Elaine Stritch in the crowd of the lost? She was indeed more of a Broadway and TV star, here and in London, but she made at least ten movies, the most recent being "Monster-In-Law" — where she played Jane Fonda's mother and Jennifer’s grand-mother-in-law-to-be. (Incidentally, Elaine told me that acting with Lopez, just watching her was delightful. She also remarked on how talented this girl is.)
Jane Fonda and Elaine Stritch in "Monster-In-Law."
AS TO the exclusion of Joan Rivers from the memorial, her daughter, Melissa is taking the high road. She said only, “it would have been nice.” She says she and her son, Cooper (Joan’s grandson) are still overwhelmed by the outpourings of love and support that continue to arrive.

Joan is included on the Academy’s memorial website, but the issue of who gets on and why people are left off the televised tribute is quite complicated. One thing we know — if you are not a member of the Academy, that is not an automatic exclusion.
Others who didn’t make the cut included comic actress Jan Hooks, actor Taylor Negron and Richard Kiel, fabled as “Jaws” in James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.”
And more! Louis Jourdan, who died on February 14th of this year was included. But Lizabeth Scott — film noir's great dame — who passed away at the end of January, was not. Huh?!
RANDOM MUSINGS on Oscar night.

The hosting duties? Aren’t they best left to somebody who is basically a comic, who can comfortably “prick the balloon of pomposity” — as Bette Midler put it, during an Oscar presentation years ago. (Incredibly, she has never hosted the Oscars! Now, there’s an idea!)

I do see two actors who might do well. One is Eddie Murphy. No, he wouldn’t be wacky and insulting. He is an adult who has transitioned from his early “SNL” days and over-the-top comedies. (Why can’t people accept this?) He’s pretty dignified now, but I don’t know that this would be a bad thing on Oscar night. Come on, we’re all aware of the foolishness of actors and publicity and false image. We don’t always need somebody else to tell us.

By the way, I totally approve of Eddie refusing to do a skit about Bill Cosby on the “SNL” 40th anniversary show. I mean, is that all they could come up with for him?! Perhaps that was the reason he appeared so subdued and not-happy-to-be-there.

The other actor I was thinking about is John Travolta. He is SUCH a great big movie fan. And he loves the classic films. I don’t think he’d get into dissing other stars or the industry, but he’d be brilliant sailing an Oscar ship that really paid tribute to the great golden stars of the past. (I once had a delightful hour-long phone conversation with John, totally devoted to vintage films and stars. I don’t think we ever got around to the initial point of his call.)

To be honest, I could do without all production numbers in favor of compilations of the best of Garbo, Stanwyck, Harlow, Monroe, Bette Davis, Crawford, Clark Gable, Bill Holden, Tracy and Hepburn, etc. How about giving the 21st century Oscar audience a lesson in why we HAVE an Oscar telecast at all?

As much as I like Neil Patrick Harris on television, in films and on the Broadway stage he seemed too insecure, slight and not in command. Okay, so now we know at last there is one thing this very talented guy can’t do!
PEOPLE ARE still talking about Lady Gaga’s “Sound of Music” tribute, which ended with the joyful, welcome appearance of Julie Andrews. (It was the social media moment of the night — number one on Twitter and Facebook!) Seems incredible to me that so many people — even her fans, apparently — didn’t realize Gaga had a genuine set of pipes. The Oscar show picked up steam after that — but it was already 11:30! We say this every year, but there’s got to be a better way to put this behemoth together?
Incidentally, don’t miss picking up the brand new St. Martin’s Press book, “The Sound of Music Story,” by Tom Santopietro. It is full of fascinating facts and trivia about the original stage show, which starred Mary Martin, and of course about the film, which was a huge hit in 1965, and has gone on to become a cultural phenomenon, never losing its appeal. (Those sing-alongs are wildly popular all over the world.) The book is sure to become a collector’s item and it’s a must-read for all those obsessed with “The Sound of Music.”
Cick to order “The Sound of Music Story."
CAN SOMEBODY please muzzle CNN’s Don Lemon? During his red carpet interview with Robert Duvall, Lemmon quickly dismissed the great actor’s urge to promote his wife Luciana Pedraza’s movie “Wild Horses” — which Duvall directed. Don wanted to talk about Duvall’s Oscar-nominated performance in “The Judge.” Fair enough. But then, Lemon, carried away with enthusiasm, recapped the entire movie, including the end! This was disrespectful to Duvall and also a total spoiler!
IN THE matter of where celebrities keep their Oscars, Sheldon Roskin, who was the late Celeste Holm’s PR rep for ten years says: “She kept her Oscar (along with several other awards) on her piano in her living room.”

Elizabeth Taylor also kept her three Oscars (she was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993) in plain sight in the living room of her Bel Air home. Along with photos of her children, Richard Burton, Mike Todd, and her wonderful artworks. Her house was surprisingly cozy and modest, reflecting the woman beneath the image.

As for the rest of ET’s awards, they had to number in the hundreds, one wonders what happened to them? (Also, what happened to all her fabulous fur coats, left out of the Christie’s auction, so as not to incite PETA?)
ET arrives at the Academy Awards with Eddie Fisher, April 18th, 1961.
APOLOGIES to writer Robert Crane. We neglected to cite him as the co-author of the delicious Tom Mankiewicz book we wrote about the other day. It was Crane who conducted all the interviews with Tom, and who pushed ahead with the book after Tom’s passing in 2010.

Contact Liz Smith here.