Sunday, March 02, 2014

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.

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.”   (I ultimately published them myself and the hilarious Kindle version is only $3.99.)

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 Miley Cyrus 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 competing in the Winter Olympics.

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 -- now in its ninth year of daily posting. And it has gained some popularity (now 11,000,000+ visitors) – thanks in part to my annual Oscar review.

Anyway, tonight I shall once again review the Academy Awards.  So much suspense.  Will GRAVITY beat 12 YEARS A SLAVE and AMERICAN HUSTLE?  Will Ellen wear a dress?  Tomorrow morning the review will be up. 

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

22 comments:

Gary said...

And this year Rob Ford will be there. Sigh.

Hamid said...

One of the funniest Oscars moments ever was when Martin Landau won Best Supporting Actor for Ed Wood. When his name was read out, you could see Samuel L Jackson angrily mouth the words "oh, shit!" Gotta love the guy's honesty. No fake over-excitement at someone else winning.

Regarding tonight's ceremony, I hope they get the In Memoriam bit right. I know they've said in the past that they get more letters of complaint about that aspect than any other, and I know they obviously can't show every single person in the industry who's passed away in the last 12 months, but if they just cut some of the pointless montages that are shown throughout the show, there'd be more time for this section of the evening. They also seem to have a strange rule about not including anyone who's passed away in the preceding few weeks before the ceremony, as was the case when Roy Scheider's name didn't feature until a year after he died. So it could mean that Philip Seymour Hoffman and Harold Ramis might not feature in tonight's memorial.

dudleysmom said...

Ken, perhaps you would consider writing about the proposed Comcast merger. If they end up with a monopoly, there will certainly be an impact on Hollywood business models (especially those of companies like Netflix). You have particular insight into the business of making entertainment, even though I know you are not a political commentator. And the utter absurdity of the situation should appeal to the satirist in you. People can email the fcc at Tom.Wheeler@fcc.gov.

Howard Hoffman said...

I am so so so so so so sorry.

But with my suggestions that people actually take seriously comes great responsibility, so here's the once a month duty I have to honor.

Your family and friends say hi and still wonder if you're going to keep writing that blog. It's been raining in L.A. Your son is still at Apple and your daughter has a series! Debbie wanted me to let you know she's the new mayor of Los Angeles, and would appreciate if you could just get away from the computer for one hour to attend the inauguration. If not, she understands. And I moved to Walla Walla in 2012 which is why I haven't been able to meet you for lunch in your office those last 72 times you asked.

Okay. You're caught up. It's been an amazing odyssey and congratulations on hitting 11 million!

So…again we ask - you're going to keep writing that blog?

MikeBo said...

I'm glad that Spielberg didn't clap. I can't recall how he showed his lack of graciousness, but I'm glad he inspired you to start your blog. Roger Carroll frequently recalls you as "the brightest, hardest young guy ever to work on the KMPC Sports Wire (Webster 8-3000). I read your blog every day and am eternally grateful for your writing tips and show biz insights. Keep up the good work. Can't wait for the Oscar Review.

Lola Heatherton said...

I love you, Ken Levine...
I want to BEAR your CHILDREN!

HAAA-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-h-h-h...!

MikeN said...

At least he give a mild clap to Elia Kazan at the Oscars. I find it funny that Ben Affleck was in Shakespeare in Love. Does he have a cameo in Gandhi we don't know about?

kenju said...

I am really looking forward to it.

Todd Everett said...

They also seem to have a strange rule about not including anyone who's passed away in the preceding few weeks before the ceremony, as was the case when Roy Scheider's name didn't feature until a year after he died. So it could mean that Philip Seymour Hoffman and Harold Ramis might not feature in tonight's memorial.

Let alone Alain Resnais.

Gary said...

Who is this "Oscar" fellow?

Felix said...

Who is "Oscar"?

Liggie said...

So Ken, who would win in a steel cage match, you or Dave Barry?

I know a lot of people are pissed that Private Ryan lost to Shakespeare, from film critics to veterans'-advocacy groups. Spielberg pettiness aside, will this be seen as one of Oscar's big mistakes like How Green Was My Valley over Citizen Kane?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Ken, how about posting that letter/review you sent out the Year of the Spielberg?

wg

Nelly Wilson said...

Is that 11,000,000+ visitors on average per post or 11,000,000+ visits per year? Johnny Walker, I guess, would be responsible for at least 1000 visits each post.

Dale said...

Shakespeare in love won Best Picture??? Hilarious!

Not much to choose from this year.

Speilberg gave someone the clap????

Martin Landau won an Oscar????

I do have Space 1999 on DVD that I paid virtually nothing for... Can't watch it because it is so bad.

Space 1999 replaced UFO????? That is a bigger travesty than Shakespeare beating up Ryan.

Johnny Walker said...

I can't wait to watch the Oscars, but I probably won't get to see them until Tuesday daytime. I guess I'll have to try and go into hiding to avoid spoilers.

Anyone got any predictions? (For me, the changes of Ellen wearing a dress are about the same as Nebraska - possibly my fave - winning Best Picture. )

Johnny Walker said...

Thanks, Nelly. I do my best!

Mike said...

I'm expecting several jokes about the contents of this year's goodie bags - one joke in particular.

Johnny Walker said...

First celebrity joke of the evening... Shia Labeouf?

Mike said...

@Johnny Walker: Didn't LaBeouf send one of his sex tapes to Lars von Trier to get a small part in Nymphomaniac?

Hamid said...

Wendy, I did a search to see if that had been posted and found this from Ken's blog back in 2011:

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.)

Anonymous said...

How do we stumble upon these blogs anyway? It's a mystery. In any case, I haven't laughed this hard in a long time. Such good writing - how refreshing. (I have to publish this comment anonymously because my soul-sucking kids keep changing our Google password.)