The Academy is not apologizing for its glaring omission of Farrah Fawcett in its In Memorium segment last night which I think just makes an unfortunate situation worse.
Everyone noticed. It was wrong to exclude someone with her many film credits, her level of fame, and the widespread grief her death brought.
Here’s what spokeswoman Leslie Unger told Radar: “It is highly unlikely that we forgot about Farrah Fawcett but we unfortunately don’t include everyone each year. There are many angles that are looked at as to who to include and unfortunately we don’t include everyone.”
Added Oscar producer Bruce Davis: “It is the single most troubling element of the Oscar show every year. Because more people die each year than can possibly be included in that segment. You are dropping people who the public knows. It’s just not comfortable.”
People have been writing in with other omissions including Bea Arthur who had memorable roles in the films Mame (she’s the one and only Vera Charles) and was wonderful in the 1970 film Lovers and Other Strangers. Her final film was 2001′s Enemies of Laughter.
If three films is not enough to warrant a mention, then why the inclusion of Michael Jackson? As far as I know, he film credits equal two: The Wiz and the concert film This is It.
Sean Hayes has, for the first time, publicly discussed being a gay man in an interview with The Advocate. He seems a bit grumpy about it because the magazine had been hard on him in the past about not being public with his sexuality.
He may not be as flamboyantly gay as his television alter-ego Jack on Will & Grace but he is gay and has acknowledged that as he prepares to make his Broadway debut in Promises, Promises.
The cover story explains that once Hayes began to play Jack, everyone wanted to know if he himself was gay and how he felt about playing a gay character. Faced with the very real prospect of jeopardizing his chance at landing straight roles down the road, he started reciting stock answers, variations on what he told the Detroit Free Press early on: “When I play a gay character I want to be as believable as possible. And when I’m playing a straight character I also want to be as believable as possible. So the less that people know about my personal life, the more believable I can be as a character.”
Hayes never pretended to be something he wasn’t like walking some pretty woman down the red carpet or faking a straight relationship.
While he was a riot as Jack, I think his being so tight-lipped made it difficult for gay fans to embrace him.
“I believe that nobody owes anything to anybody,” Hayes says in the interview. “Nobody owes anything to anybody. You are your authentic self to whom and when you choose to be, and if you don’t know somebody, then why would you explain to them how you live your life?”
Then he makes this point: “I feel like I’ve contributed monumentally to the success of the gay movement in America, and if anyone wants to argue that, I’m open to it. You’re welcome, Advocate.”
The four years since Will & Grace have allowed Hayes to reevaluate things. “I was anxious to get back to my life before Will & Grace,” he says. “You do need that time to find who you are again. Who am I without this? With fame you can’t help but lose yourself. You want to be the one who says I’ll always remain the same, but it is humanly impossible to disallow fame to change you.”
He opens up just a tad about his personal life: “I spend time with a special someone in my life,” he says. But after years of being burned, he won’t say another word about him or the quiet life they lead. “That’s it. That’s all I need,” he says. “I don’t need events. I don’t do a lot. I live my life like an 85-year-old man. I’m just quiet. It’s fantastic.”
We lost a lot of movie stars last year including Patrick Swayze, Natasha Richardson, and Brittany Murphy among them. On last night’s Oscars, James Taylor took to the stage and performed The Beatles’s In My Life as pictures of the recently departed flashed on the screen.
So where was Farrah Fawcett? How could she not have been included in this tribute?
Farrah may have had her most famous roles on television but she made plenty of feature films including an acclaimed role as Robert Duvall’s wife in 1997′s The Apostle and she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her riveting performance in 1986′s Extremities in a role she originated off-Broadway.
Her film debut was in 1970s Myra Breckinridge, appeared in 1976′s Logan’s Run and her first lead came opposite Jeff Bridges in 1978′s Somebody Killed Her Husband. She starred with Bridges again in in 1989′s See You in the Morning.
Other features included Dr. T and the Women opposite Richard Gere, Saturn 3 with Kirk Douglas, Sunburn, Man of the House, Cannonball Run and her final film appearance of any kind was in 2004′s The Cookout. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2006.
If you didn’t catch Jimmy Kimmel’s post-Oscar show last night, then you’ve got to check out this really funny ‘Handsome Men Club’ skit.
It is an unbelievable group assembled for this: Matthew McConaughey (he wants to eject Jimmy from the club for not being handsome), Taye Diggs, Patrick Dempsey, Sting, Lenny Kravitz, Rob Lowe, Josh Hartnett, and, best of all, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon who have been in some classic Kimmel bits in the past. He and Affleck are especially close at the end of this video.
I don’t know anything about fashion but I do know what I think looks good.
Last night’s Oscars had actresses pulling out all the stops.
I didn’t so much like the big and busy dresses instead favoring the clean and classic look like Kate Winslet put together. She was my favorite overall but I also liked Sandra Bullock, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel McAdams, Meryl Streep, Demi Moore and Gabourey Sidibe.
There were so many good looking male presenters on last night’s Academy Awards including past Greg In Hollywood Morning Men Ryan Reynolds, Gerard Butler, Bradley Cooper and Keanu Reeves.
But my favorite was Colin Farrell.
Colin co-starred in Crazy Heart and best actor Jeff Bridges mentioned the Irish-born actor in his acceptance speech. Colin made his own speech last year at the Golden Globe Award for best actor in a motion picture – comedy or musical for In Bruges.
At 33, Colin has built quite a film resume since breaking onto the scene in 2000′s Tigerland with my favorite being A Home at the End of the World in which he played a bisexual free spirit involved in a love triangle. He’s appeared in such big studio films as Daredevil, SWAT and Miami Vice and done many smaller films such as last year’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
I didn’t want to let this day end without remembering the wonderful Tammy Faye Messner who would have been 68 years old today.
She died in the summer of 2007 of cancer and really was such a bright spirit. I got to know her through the documentary films Tammy Faye: Death Defying and The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
We learned all about her in these films, about her past as the wife of Jim Bakker, their fall from grace, and how she never lost her sense of humor or spirit through any of it. She also was a champion for gay rights and is beloved by the community because of that – well, that and her trademark false eyelashes.
I met Tammy Faye at Outfest in 2005 where I sat directly behind her during the screening of Death Defying which chronicled her battle against cancer. She was in remission then and looked terrific. She was so warm and full of love…and so funny and was a famous Christian woman who loved gays, who loved everybody and didn’t judge.
This talented and very funny woman turned 46 years old today.
Wanda Sykes has been successful for a long time now but has never been a bigger star than she is right now with her own late night show on FOX on Saturday, a terrific role on the CBS sitcom New Adventures of Old Christine, and all kinds of invites to do things like hosting the White House Correspondents Dinner.
Wanda came out publicly at a anti-Prop. 8 rally in the fall of 2008 and has become such a treasure to the LGBT community. I chatted with Wanda at that HRC dinner and asked how her life had changed since coming out in such a public way.
“I still feel like me, maybe a little free, a little more liberated – more fired up. It’s great,” she said.
This is the first time since 2004 that I won’t be at the Kodak Theatre covering the Oscars from the red carpet and the backstage press room.
Instead, I’ll be attending a party in West Hollywood benefiting The Trevor Project, an organization dedicated to suicide prevention among LGBT youth.
As much as I enjoy covering the Academy Awards, it is a very long day and it is work.
This year, I wanted to be at a big party with a drink in my hand watching the festivities on television. But I’ll still have a recap of the show posted on Greg In Hollywood after the show ends.
I have so many wonderful Oscar memories from past years and topping that was last year’s victory by Dustin Lance Black who won the original screenplay Academy Award for Milk. I knew him a bit by that time and snapped the above photo of Lance on the red carpet. He attended with Cleve Jones who was Harvey Milk’s close friend and now Lance’s close friend.
Lance gave one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard, taking the time to reach out to gay kids watching to tell them that no matter what their church or their family might say, they are beautiful and they are loved.
Then backstage, I got to ask Lance a question about that remarkable speech when he came back to address the press holding that shiny Oscar. In the YouTube video below, at the 1:06 mark, is where we have our exchange:
It’s always fun checking 0ut the guys in their tuxedos but let’s face it, it’s all about the women.
There are such gorgeous creatures on that carpet and I’m always eager to see fashion plates like Nicole Kidman, Anne Hathaway and Charlize Theron.
Speaking of Charlize, this dress (pictured, left) from a few years back was much maligned but I thought it was spectacular. I got a good look at it because Charlize was one of the last stars on the red carpet that year and she had just left an interview with Gayle King and was heading toward the steps of the Kodak Theatre with her mother at the same time I was heading to the press r0om. So I walked behind them for a bit and have never before seen such a vision.
I’ll miss being up that close this year (I’m pictured below at last year’s event with my pal Sandra Bererra) but do plan on being back there at the Oscars in the future.
Wherever you are watching the Oscars later today, have fun!
The year’s highest-profile musical, Nine, was shut out of most of the major categories with supporting actress nominee Penelope Cruz the highest-profile nominee.
Nine was directed by Rob Marshall who had a lot more luck back in 2003 when his Chicago won best picture and supportive actress for Catherine Zeta-Jones. Marshall himself was nominated for best director and seemed a shoo-in after winning the DGA Award. But Roman Polanski won for The Pianist.
Chicago’s other nominees were Golden Globe and SAG winner Renee Zellweger who lost to Nicole Kidman, Queen Latifah and John C. Reilly. Leading man Richard Gere, a Golden Globe winner for his performance as Billy Flynn, was surprisingly not nominated.
Here are two of my favorite musical numbers from the film: Zeta-Jones doing All that Jazz and Gere singing and dancing Razzle Dazzle.
They started with Loretta Lynn and Ringo Starr 29 years ago and its ending tonight with Sandra Bullock and Mo’Nique.
In between there’s been Hugh Jackman, Tom Cruise, Cher, Oprah Winfrey, Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis and on and on and on.
After nearly three decades of being an Oscar night tradition, Barbara Walters is calling it quits after this year’s special. She’s 80 and is feeling very “been there, done that” about it all.
“When I started doing the Oscar night interviews, it was something different, now everyone is doing celebrity interviews,” she said recently.
On tonight’s special, Barbara will revisit the old interviews so that should be a lot of fun. Among those will be her chat with Ricky Martin during which she asked the singer if he was gay – something she now regrets: “In 2000, I pushed Ricky Martin very hard to admit if he was gay or not, and the way he refused to do it made everyone decide that he was. A lot of people say that destroyed his career, and when I think back on it now I feel it was an inappropriate question.”
Will Jeff Bridges finally win the elusive Oscar tonight?
He received his fifth nomination for his leading actor role in Crazy Heart and has swept virtually every award leading up to the Academy Awards.
Victory for Bridges seems like a sure bet as does victory in the supporting actor category for Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds.
They would join these famous faces as Oscar winners. Among those in this gallery are Javier Bardem, Sean Penn, Michael Douglas, Dustin Hoffman, George Clooney, Jamie Foxx, Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, Daniel Day-Lewis, John Wayne and Sidney Poitier.
With a five-year deal at American Idol in place and viewership of her daytime talk show up an average of 15 percent over last year, Ellen DeGeneres is on a career roll.
She is on the cover of the current issue of TV Guide magazine. Here is a portion of it:
Q. Your Q score, or likability factor with the public, is reportedly higher than Oprah’s. Surprised?
A. All I’ve ever done is try to learn more and more who I am and try to be fully who I am. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’m openly gay and finally getting more success, because I’m not hiding anything. I’m completely, fully present. And I can relax. It’s so funny, I spent all these years trying to hide [being gay], because I thought it would keep people away from me. And actually, as soon as you embrace who you are and keep diving deeper, that’s when more people show up. Because I think everybody wants to do the same thing—everybody’s goal in life is to be comfortable in your own skin and trust that.
Q [On Idol] you seem very compassionate when giving people the bad news that they didn’t make it.
A. I struggled for 15 years. I did stand-up and I was rejected before I got the Letterman show, and before I got The Tonight Show and before getting my own HBO special. There were a lot of times I thought I was ready and people wouldn’t put me on those shows because they didn’t think I was ready. I think that’s why I’m kinder in the way I deliver [negative] news. I have that compassion because I was that person that people said cruel things about. And I had that time in my life where I wasn’t given a chance. So it’s a pleasure for me to be able to show someone a different way you can be turned down.
Q. And now you’re sitting next to Simon Cowell, who some feel is too harsh.
A. He’s a nice guy. But he’s also really mean to people [in a way] that I think goes beyond just constructive criticism. It becomes almost taunting, which I don’t like. Because [as a performer], I know what that feels like. It’s entertainment value for people who like that kind of drama. And as a fan of the show, I’ve usually agreed with what he says, to a limit.
Q. This is the first time he’s on that panel next to a star bigger than he is.
A. I don’t know that he’s allowed that to sink in. I don’t know that he thinks that. I think he’s still the biggest star on that panel, in his head. And it has been his show this entire time. I think that we definitely have had moments of fun and have gotten along, but at the same time, I don’t know. It’s a tough year for him, ’cause he’s leaving, so I think it’s bittersweet for him.
Whether the Oscar host was Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock or Hugh Jackman, one constant for the past two-plus decades has been funnyman Bruce Vilanch in the writer’s room.
This year, Alec Baldwin and past-host Steve Martin will share the hosting job. I talked to Bruce recently about that powerhouse duo, about his favorite Oscar moments and what might be in store for the audience and viewers at home on tomorrow’s ceremony.
“It varies every year,” Bruce said of the preparations. “This year, since Steve is co-hosting, he writes a lot of stuff and is a precise instrument. We have a confab every few days and hammer together the opening then pull it apart then re-hammer it. The wild card on the show is what the winners will say, everything else is scripted.”
Another wild card is having more than one host for the first time in decades: “The difference is they had to establish a relationship and have individual points of view on stage so it’s double the work obviously – triple the work.”
What about having 10 best picture nominees this year instead of the usual five?
“It’s like Octomom took over, everything is 20 times bigger than it was,” Bruce said. “It does change it because we want to give each movie equal time and recognition. It’s 10 movies introduced and glorified, it’s twice as much star power. It changes the dynamic of the show, it’s about more movies now.”
Bruce is so grateful that one of those 10 nominees is Avatar : “When you have 10 foot blue creature and the most popular movie of the year, it’s difficult to ignore that. But it’s hard to joke about a movie like Precious or The Hurt Locker. People just refuse to be lighthearted about rape or soldiers in Iraq.”
Bruce said it’s good for the awards that best picture nominee Avatar was not only critically-acclaimed, but is the highest grossing movie in history: “When that happens, the numbers go up because more people are interested because they have seen the movie. In the old days when you did the Oscars, everyone had seen everything, everyone knew who the movie stars were. No one knows who [best supporting actress nominee for 'Up in the Air'] Anna Kendrick is.”
Even though the writers have worked for weeks on material for the presenters, their job is not near done once the ceremony is underway. Bruce and other writers watch for any comic possibilities and pray for classic moments like in the early 90s when Jack Palance won the Oscar for City Slickers and did a few one-handed push-ups on the stage in celebrations.
“The Jack Palance push-up was wonderful and crazy and gave us fuel to write jokes all about him. I live for those moments when somebody wins and makes a fool of themselves and we can good-naturedly make fun of them. It’s a great, big live show and you want to be spontaneous.”
Then at the 2003 ceremony when Michael Moore won for his documentary Bowling for Columbine,he delivered a fiery, political acceptance speech after which Martin quipped: “It was so sweet backstage, the Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo.”
“You really have to be on your toes, running from the green room where presenters are waiting to hatch the material to the little booth on the side where the hosts are watching the show,” Bruce said. “You have to keep abreast of everything that happens looking for the opportunity for the host to comment. We were very lucky that year that Steve followed Michael Moore and that the incident happened.”
Has anyone ever been mad at you for a joke at the Oscars and maybe had a word with you at the governor’s ball?
Said Bruce: “Most people I think are thrilled that they are at a level where a joke can be made about them at the Academy Awards, they wouldn’t be thought of unless they have made some kind of impact on the culture. Also, we vet ourselves personally and ask, “Can we do this with so and so sitting there? One year with Russell Crowe, there was a joke he didn’t like. They put the camera on him and he got a laugh.”
With so much potential drama built in to the proceedings, I wondered if the Oscar show has to be really funny to succeed.
“I think people have a better time if it’s funny,” Bruce said. “It’s such a pompous occasion, so much self-importance. These are career-changing moments for people who have a great deal invested professionally so the humor helps to level that a little bit. It’s a show, it’s showbiz.”
Bruce began the Oscar gigs in the late 80s and I asked him if things have changed much since then.
“The world changed,” he replied. “When I started it there were four networks. The TV universe has expanded exponentially. The Internet came in and now everyone is on Twitter and talking on cell phones. The public’s attention is more fragmented and the celebrity machine has exploded. All the gossip,, the paparazzi, it has an affect on the show. The ratings are lower because people have more options. What has changed about the show is that the movie business has changed. Eleven years ago, ‘The English Patient‘ won best picture, an independent movie not many people had seen. That has been the trend. You have to make those movies accessible to have the show make sense to people who haven’t seen the movies.”
There’s a good reason why Lee Daniels, director of Precious: Based on the Novel `Push’ by Sapphire, cracked at last night’s Independent Spirit Awards: “Kathryn Bigelow’s not here tonight. I am.”
Daniels won the best director award without having to compete against Oscar-front runner Bigelow whose The Hurt Locker premiered at film festivals in 2008 and was eligible for the Spirit Awards last year.
This gave Oscar-nominee Daniels a chance to bask in a win on a night that his film dominated at the Spirit Awards held in downtown Los Angeles Friday after many years of taking place on the beach in Santa Monica the afternoon before the Oscars.
His film took the best feature prize and its stars Gabourey Sidibe and Mo’Nique won best actress and supporting actress, respectively. Geoffrey Fletcher also won for his screenplay of Precious.
“Gabby, you are truly a special gift to the universe, baby,” Oscar-favorite Mo’Nique said of her co-star. “For people to get to know you and be in your presence, they are all honored.”
Though she has dominated her category at earlier film honors, Mo’Nique said backstage she had not prepared a speech for the Oscars, “because I think the universe would say, `You have a lot of nerve.’”
Sidibe said her mother used to give her two dollars to go to school and that she saved the money to see an independent film, Welcome to the Dollhouse, at a theater her bus would drive past.
“Hey, I could do that,” Sidibe said. “To be corny, you could say that’s when my independent spirit was born.”
Other winners last night: Crazy Heart star Jeff Bridges won best male lead and is an overwhelming favorite to win his first Oscar; Woody Harrelson won the supporting male prize for The Messenger.
Presented by the cinema group Film Independent, the awards honor movies that cost less than $20 million to make, with a significant part of their budget originating outside the Hollywood studio system.
It was more than 50 years ago that a young girl named Mary Wilson formed a singing group with her friends Diana Ross and Florence Ballard.
They went on to become The Supremes, the greatest girl group of all time.
The Supremes took a few years to reach No. 1 with 1964’s Where Did Our Love Go, but once they were on top, they stayed there with an astounding 12 No. 1 hits, including Baby Love, Stop! In the Name of Love and You Can’t Hurry Love.
With worldwide fame, the trio had adjusted to early growing pains such as Ballard being replaced by Ross as lead singer. The arrangement, publicly at least, seemed to work well for a good five years before Ballard – depending on who you believe – either quit or was pushed out of the group for unprofessional behavior. She was replaced by Cindy Birdsong and the group was rechristened Diana Ross and the Supremes.
This all kind of sounds like a movie called Dreamgirls, doesn’t it? Mary has mixed feelings about the obvious similarities.
“It’s a piece of work, a piece of art,” Mary told me in an interview we did last year. “Anytime you have art, and it’s good, you have to acknowledge it. However, it was not the Supremes story. Whoever wrote it was inspired by the Supremes, they used our images. “That’s OK, but if you’re going to write about someone, you should say it’s them. It’s not plagiarism, and yet it is. I’ve always been on the fence. If anything was closest to reality, if would be the (Effie) character – a singer so good who didn’t fit the image. It was kind of eerie. And yet, it wasn’t really Florence.”
Mary, who turns 66 years old today, stayed with the group until it disbanded in 1977. She has been a busy solo act since then performing around the world and is the author of two best-selling memoirs: Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme and the follow-up Supreme Faith.
It was a thrill to meet Mary in person (our interview had been by phone) a few months back at a book party held at The Abbey in West Hollywood for her friend Mark Bego celebrating the release of his new book Elton John: The Bitch is Back.
A cast member of Best Picture nominee Inglourious Basterds, Eli Roth began shooting Super 8 films as a kid and went on to become the director -writer-producer of such popular horror flicks as Hostel, Hostel Part II and Cabin Fever.
Eli is considered one of the most profitable directors working in film today: The total combined production budget of his first two films was $6 million dollars and they went on to have a total worldwide theatrical gross of well over $100 million dollars.
The 37-year-old filmmaker was voted “Most Fit Director” in the June/July 2006 issue of Men’s Fitness magazine which ranked the “25 Fittest Guys” in various professions.
Among the Oscar winners in these photos: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, Cher. Vivien Leigh, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Meryl Streep, Whoopi Goldberg, Liza Minnelli, Julie Andrews, Sally Field, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Grace Kelly, and Kate Winslet.