Published March 19, 2002
LOS ANGELES – This town has a bad case of Oscar™ Fever, according to the news reports from New York.
Yet for the average Los Angeles resident, the Oscars™ mean nothing more than endless full-page "For Your Consideration" ads in the L.A. Times, city subsidies, giant billboards promoting already forgotten movies, and a weeklong traffic hassle on Hollywood Boulevard. Even people who work in the film business are shut out. The new Kodak Theater seats only 3,100 people. The awards' old home at the USC Shrine held nearly twice that many, and the fancy people are not happy when they're refused a ticket.
But it's an honor just to be nominated to write about it all.
The big story this year is the alleged "whisper campaign" against A Beautiful Mind. (True fact: as I typed that title, yet another A Beautiful Mind commercial appeared on the television.) After decades of having Oscar™ Fight Coverage limited to the Hollywood trade magazines, the vote whoring and ugly gossip is finally on the Internet for all to see.
As a loyal Foxnews.com reader slacking off at work, you don't have time to follow all the dirty show-biz hearsay. That's why I've assembled a quick and wildly inaccurate breakdown of the Oscar™ Hot Topics, with plenty of links leading to the actual stories:
Smearing Sean Penn: Several people saw the latest Sean Penn movie, in which the troubled actor portrays a maniac of some kind. When online gossips spread the story that Penn's character lacked tolerance for online gossips, failed pop singer Rusty Crowe went berserk, which shouldn't surprise his many fans who enjoyed his crazy performance in Dr. Seuss' Sam I Am: The Green Eggs and Ham Story.
Where's the Bedroom: Most of the non-hobbit nominees have something to do with a movie that apparently doesn't exist. It has been reported that In the Bedroom features such actors as Sissy Spacek ... and others. Very moving, I've heard. Look for it on the Lifetime channel next week.
Being Robert Altman: The famously unpleasant old director — a very wealthy 30-year veteran of making movies about the evils of Hollywood — came back swinging in 2002 with Gosford Park. It was a bold mystery movie, in that nobody could follow the plot or keep track of the look-alike characters. Somebody got murdered, meals were served, muddled conversations were had, and then the characters went home. Suspense has a new name: sleepiness. And did anyone notice Altman's clever new intellectual take on Hollywood? The movie-director character is a whining homosexual pedophile Jew! Wacky and liberal!
Billy Bob's Ball: In a powerful film rumored to have been released somewhere in Los Angeles, Billy Bob Thornton overcomes his hatred of black people by sleeping with Halle Berry. KKK members around the country immediately vowed to give up racism if they too could sleep with Halle Berry. At press time, it was rumored that Yasser Arafat would make peace with Israel if he could sleep with Halle Berry. Truly a film for our time. (In related news, Billy Bob's wife Angelina Jolie will win the Best Visual Effects for her chest in "Tomb Raider.")
Not Really a Movie: In the "Probably Not a Movie" category, three actors are nominated for work they may or may not have done in Iris. There aren't even advertisements in the L.A. Times for this one, but the free-wheelin' Academy members decided to nominate Jim Carrey, Kate Moss and Judy Garland for their groundbreaking performances. And why not reward such serious acting in powerful films about ... uh, the human condition?
Keep Your Kids Away From Those Guys: A half century after A.A. Milne wrote her seven-volume tale of the Hobbits and encouraged many pot-bellied hippies to play Dungeons & Dragons while listening to Emerson Lake & Palmer records, Australian director Peter O'Toole has finally brought the epic miniseries to the Big Screen. And the Academy couldn't be happier! Only Ian McKellen's convincing portrayal of Dumbledore earned an acting nomination, but this hobbitacular blockbuster is sure to win the awards for Best Movie, Best Little Weirdo Guys, Best Non-Naked Liv Tyler and Best Non-Harry Potter Story. Bravo! Or, as the Hobbits say, El Bravo!
Ken Layne types from a shack behind his Los Angeles home. The author of trashy thrillers such as Dot.Con and the upcoming Space Critters, he has written and edited for a variety of news outfits including Information Week, the Sydney Daily Telegraph, UPI and Mother Jones. Since the Enron-like collapse of his Web paper, Tabloid.net, in 1999, he has been posting commentary to KenLayne.com.