Saturday, February 26, 2011

It all started with the Oscars

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE had just beaten SAVING PRIVATE RYAN for film of the year. Steven Spielberg, who had already won Oscars for SCHINDLER’S LIST in every category except Best Animated Short was really pissed. And this was mere moments after he won another Oscar for directing SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (which was very well deserved, by the way). I thought it was a little ungracious. So I decided to write a humorous review of the ceremony, poke a bit of fun at Hollywood royalty, and email it to the hundred or so people in my address list.

The response was so positive that I did it again the following year. By then my list had grown to at least 104. I added the Emmys (talk about an easy target) and also goofy travelogues (I was getting tired of writing the same travel report ten times to ten friends).

Once I compiled enough of these travelogues I investigated getting them all published as a book. The idea was met with zero interest. But one kindly editor said, “These are very funny and if Dave Barry had written them I’d publish them tomorrow. But no one knows who the fuck you are.”

So how do I become more well-known? First thought was a publicist until I saw what they charged. Yikes! I wanted a little higher visibility; I didn’t want to be Justin Bieber so paying big money to get my name in the Long Beach Telegram a few times a year didn’t make sense. Nor did killing anybody or lying about my age and going on AMERICAN IDOL.

Then my friend Howard suggested writing a blog. (This is beginning to sound like one of those old cigarette commercials. Then my priest said, “Hey, have you tried Viceroys?”)

A blog wouldn’t cost anything save for time. Who knows? It could lead to a big book deal, major speaking engagements, or taking over for Carson Daly (if not me than ANYBODY). Well, none of those things happened but the blog has been great fun to do. And it has gained some popularity – thanks in part to my annual Oscar review.


By the way, I have compiled those travelogues and the book should be coming out within a few weeks. Get ready to fire up your Kindle.  

Anyway, tomorrow night I shall once again review the Academy Awards.  I have a lot of new readers this year (bless you all) so tomorrow I will post a few samples from past Oscar reviews.  And Monday morning the new one will be up. 

Just think, if Steven Spielberg had only clapped when SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE won none of this would have happened.

UPDATE:  A commenter asked if I could post that original Oscar review.  Sure.  I'll dig it up from four computers ago and post it early this afternoon.  So check back.  (See, I really do read the comments.)

14 comments:

Phillip B said...

Many congratulations on the book - and know the blog is greatly appreciated.

May there many more of each. Or at least enough to get the recognition you deserve. I'm talking about that invitation to appear on "Dancing with Stars" of course....

Anonymous said...

I didn't know about that. I lost respect for Spielberg when he refused to applaud Elia Kazan at the Oscars.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

Funny. I clearly recall the day Shakespeare in Love won the oscar, but I can't recall Spielberg's reaction at all.

I can't picture him as a pissed off person. It doesn't match his classy easy going manner.

Imagine if this scenario happens again tomorrow, only this time David O. Russell gets the best directing statue, only to see King's Speech take every other award and their mother home.

Imagine Russell's reaction at that loss (I still remember I Heart Huckabees and his explosion at Lily Tomlin). But then again, you could have the same situation and substitute David O. Russell with David Fincher or Darren Aronofsky.

Jonathan said...

Ken, why don't you post that first Oscar review tomorrow. I'd like to read it, and sure other new readers would too.

And for the record, Spielberg did clap, he just didn't stand up. You can watch the clip of it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YziNNCZeNs

I know it's an old controversy, but why should you reward someone who while creatively brilliant, put his own ambitions above his integrity and in the process destroyed the careers of his colleagues in Hollywood. Incredibly shameful if you ask me.

Imagine if this happened to you. Imagine you could no longer work because some ambitious prick talked to the government about you, telling them you were an enemy of the state. Pretty freaking despicable. Others didn't talk. Kazan should have known better.

bevo said...

"Just think, if Steven Spielberg had only clapped when SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE won none of this would have happened."

In fairness, I think everyone should have walked out when that warmed over piece of excrement was named best picture. From that point, we have been subjected to dumb biopics on almost annual scale. While some have been good most have been mediocre.

OTOH, Saving Private Ryan is boring except for the first 20 minutes. The first 20 minutes are amazing. The rest of the movie plods along thanks to a turgid script and heavy-handed directing.

In fairness to both pictures, they came along at a period when studios were still producing bloated fare where the written word had been forsaken by all involved. Perhaps if GoodFellas had won in 1990, maybe the folks behind Shakespeare in Love and Saving Private Ryan would spent more time and money on the dialogue part of the movie instead of the costumes, the special effects, and the egos.

Rebecca said...

And now you don't have to convince anyone to publish your book, you can do it yourself! And the people who DO know who you are can buy it and spread the word. I freaking love technology.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan, I stand corrected. Nice to know Spielberg clapped. I'd only remembered Ed Harris. I read another actor say it gave them inspiration to see Spielberg not supporting Kazan, and so I assumed he had done that.

As for the controversy, of course I would be unhappy with someone who snitched ON ME. That's not the standard by which I judge people however. Lots of criminals are in jail because someone snitched on them. I don't think badly of them, I applaud it. Simply put, Communism was an enemy of the state, with them saying we will bury you, and putting people like Alger Hiss at the top levels of government. It wasn't ambition for Kazan. He defended himself in On the Waterfront, I'm glad what I done to you.

D. McEwan said...

Wow! An anonymous boob DEFENDING the Red Scare Witch Hunts and the blacklist, and Kazan's ratting out people whose "crime" was holdng an upopular political opinion in a country where we're supposed to be free, even free to be a communist is one so chooses. Hypocrasy! This was one of the most shameful pages in American history. But yes, On The Waterfront was in part a self-serving attempt to defend his contemptable actions, which occured out of cowardice, not a desire to protect America. Kazan was a truely great diirector, but a shithole excuse for a human being.

And Anonymous Boob, Alger Hiss was framed by a young criminal named Richard Nixon to further Nixon's career of evil. Hiss was a perfectly good man, which can not be said about Nixon.

WV: "comation" When animated characters help each other maintain addictions.

Jonathan said...

Thanks to Ken for posting the Oscar review.

And thanks to Anonymous for posting again. This is probably a strange forum to discuss the Kazan issue, but for some reason it has touched a nerve with me.

Just to clarify to Anonymous: my issue isn't with someone snitching on criminals. I have no problem inditing the guilty to just authorities. That's not what happened here. I agree D. McEwan. Kazan was worried that HUAC would end his career so to save his own neck he threw others under the bus.

Now, there are complications to Kazan's story. Kazan had once been a member of the communist party himself, but he had a falling out with them. I believe it had something to do with they wanted to have a say with what went on in the Group Theater, and Kazan said no. They wanted to put him on trial within the group and so he resigned from the party. I can understand how this would make one disillusioned with Communists. And when he was asked to testify he felt that he shouldn't risk his own career in order to defend the rights of those who he had no regard for. However, what he did by cooperating with HUAC was endorsing and collaborating with witch hunters. Regardless of what his feelings were to those being hunted, he shouldn't have been complicit.

Anonymous said...

the oscars pft... they are boring. its all about the razzie's.

Anonymous said...

D McEwan, you know the Russians released many of their files from that era, called Project Venona I believe. They revealed what was obvious from the beginning, that Hiss was guilty.

Jonathan, Communism itself was and is a crime against humanity. That any number of idealists were caught in its wake is part of the crime.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

Anonymous said: Communism itself was and is a crime against humanity. That any number of idealists were caught in its wake is part of the crime.

Easily the dumbest statement I've heard in a while, offensive not only to people who believe in the principles of communism but also idealists, willing to stand up for what they believe in.

Communism is an ideology, like any other. Not necessarily the best one, but that doesn't give you the right to demonize it or call it a crime.

I could easily bash the fundamentals of deregulated savage capitalism (corporate interests driving political agendas for one), but I'm smart enough to tolerate and respect the fact that it's a part of modern society, just like communism once was.

And embracing McCarthy and his witch hunt? Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

God gives me the right to demonize and call it a crime. Communism in action reveals those statements to be true.

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
God gives me the right to demonize and call it a crime."


There is no God, but the First Amendment does give you the right to spout any silly idiocy you want to.

Of course, people with guts sign their names, rather than remain anonymous, and the opinions of cowards are worthless.