For an event that is supposed to honor the ultimate in entertainment that this country has to offer, the Oscars on Sunday night was anything but entertaining.
With the exception of Beyoncé, who showed the world why she's the superstar that she is, singing three entries from the best song category, this year's telecast was a complete DUD.
Give me Billy Crystal over Chris Rock any day of the week, and my opinion has nothing to do with the fact that he lives in a world where he can compare The Gap going to war with its own company, Banana Republic, with the War on Terror — a war that began when his home turf was attacked and nearly 3,000 innocent people were killed.
What an idiot. And the cutaways of the gleeful millionaires in their free designer clothes during the five-minute Bush-bashing jokes were enough to make me use the fast-forward button on my DVR remote (thank you, TiVo/DirecTV).
And what was that bit with Adam Sandler all about, where Rock came out and read lines supposedly meant for an absent Catherine Zeta-Jones? I was waiting for Chuck Barris and his gong to come out and save us from that desperate act. Grrr!
The show's producer, Gil Cates — who's produced the past 12 awards shows — tried to shake things up a bit this year with an edgy host, presentations in the audience and shorter speeches.
I hope he didn't spend too much time on all of those "innovations," because they didn't help at all. Perhaps it's time for the old man to hand the reins to someone else.
That being said, it was nice to be right about "Million Dollar Baby."
I said it would sweep all the major categories, since maestro Clint Eastwood took perennial loser Martin Scorsese ("The Aviator") to school with his little film. "Million Dollar Baby" won best picture, Clint won for best director, Hilary Swank won for best actress and the great Morgan Freeman won for best supporting actor.
And no one was surprised when Jamie Foxx finally got his just reward for his spectacular portrayal of singing legend Ray Charles in "Ray." Foxx's speech was a highlight, as was the fact that he brought his daughter to the awards with him.
Foxx is a guy who looks like he's got his priorities straight, despite his rumored party-animal side.
Anyway, I for one am glad I didn't have to endure all the boredom. If the DVR industry (TiVo, ReplayTV) needs a more convincing ad campaign, they should run commercials showing people at home fast forwarding through the Oscars to the parts we actually care about.
What's Wrong With Generation Y ... or Whatever Letter We're Up to Now?
I was in a Ruby Tuesday's restaurant the other day when a song playing on the stereo system caught my ear. It was "Welcome to My Life," by a band called Simple Plan. The lyrics that got me Grrring are:
"You don't know what it's like, To be like me, To be hurt, To feel lost, To be left out in the dark, To be kicked when you're down, To feel like you've been pushed around, To be on the edge of breaking down, And no one's there to save you, No you don't know what it's like ... Welcome to my life."
This is what passes for popular music today, whiny little "woe is me"-type songs that enable all the little crybabies whose sense of entitlement just kills me. Look at me, I'm a cute intern wearing flip-flops and a tank top at the corporate office. Shouldn't you hire me because everyone thinks I'm cute?
Or, look at me, I'm a young punk whose mommy and daddy would only pay for the walk-up apartment when all of my friends live in doorman buildings. Shouldn't you hire me?
Now, obviously not every young person in this country is a little mama's boy or daddy's girl. Many are hard workers who know that it takes blood, sweat and tears to get anywhere in this life. And guess what? No one will be there to save you when you're down.
Guess what? You will be kicked when you're down. You will feel lost. You will be on the edge of breaking down. Welcome to life, period.
Now grow up and get over it.
Stupid Lit'l Dreamer
This week's SLD mention goes to actress Hilary Swank. The two-time Oscar winner is as unpretentious as they come. Keep 'em coming, Hilary. You're a class act and a great actress.
On a Personal Note
Last week I was saddened to hear that Dan Preisendanz, a former colleague of mine and a talented editor at CBS News Radio, had committed suicide.
Dan is survived by his wife and two children.
On Sunday, Dan was remembered at a funeral service by several colleagues, past and present — including CBS News president Andrew Heyward — a classy move on the exec's part, and what we all remember about Dan is what a dedicated journalist he was. He was always striving to get the story right, right up to the minute the broadcast was on the air.
Whatever personal anguish he was suffering never affected his work. Dan always had a kind word for everybody, even when I was a lowly desk assistant, and he was genuinely interested in the people around him.
For his family, they may never know what the final straw was that broke Dan's back, but they found out Sunday just how much their father, son, brother and husband was respected, and liked by the people he worked with.
God bless your soul, Dan.
Now for Your Grrrs
When I was younger I used to write rebuttal letters to some of columnist Russell Baker's Op-Eds in the New York Times. Once, his assistant responded with a note saying she forwarded my letter to Baker, but other than that, I never got a response. That's why I'm going to print the following rebuttal in its entirety from an 18-year-old Blockbuster employee who took offense to last week's "Open Letter to Blockbuster" column. I feel he should be heard, and I'm happy to see that this guy feels tremendous pride in his accomplishments. I sincerely wish you good luck in all of your future endeavors, even if you do think I'm a crappy columnist.
Mike Straka is the director of operations and special projects for FOXNews.com, and contributes as a features reporter on "FOX Magazine," and occasionally as a news cut-ins anchor on FOX News Channel. Read Mike's Bio.