Saturday, February 21, 2009

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 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 Tatiana 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 REAL WORLD.

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.

So tonight again I shall review the Academy Awards. I try to post them as soon as possible so if someone else has a similar observation it’s clear I didn’t steal it from him (he probably stole it from me). Unfortunately, here in Hawaii they are tape delayed. God forbid a tourist misses one precious hour of deadly sun exposure. So expect the review early Monday morning. It’s coming.

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


Alan Coil said...

Please, Mr. Levine, tell me again that you are in Hawaii, while here I am in southeastern Michigan freezing my @$$ off.

TCinLA said...

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN deserved to lose to a good movie like SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE. If you cut off the first 30 minutes of SPR, the rest is a very average propaganda-level war movie, circa 1944 - "A Walk In The Sun" with higher production values. The movie is vastly over-rate.

However, Spielberg redeemed himself by teaming with Tom Hanks to produce the ten greatest war movies ever made - i.e., the ten episodes of HBO's BAND OF BROTHERS.

Basically, Spielberg got the Oscar for directing about 1/4 of SPR, the rest is fourth-rate crap with higher production values.

Question Mark said...

Totally agree with the previous post. Shakespeare In Love is one of the most under-appreciated Best Picture winners ever. I have to think that part of the backlash was due to the fact that the British movie beat the pro-American war flick. That said, Spielberg deserved a make-up Oscar for Raiders or ET, so I had no problem with him beating John 'Boom!' Madden.

Though the best movie of 1998 was the Big Lebowski, as everyone knows.

msw said...

Ken, looks like you went for option b) in "How to become a famous blogger":

By Ken Levine said...

Hawaii is open to anyone from Michigan.

Anonymous said...

Sephim - take 'anti-semitism' off your profile interests... if it's meant to be funny, it just isn't.

Anonymous said...

notjewish - tell that to the big fucking smile on my face.

Anonymous said...

For actress in leading role I'm rooting for Angelina Jolie in Changeling. Even if she doesn’t win she is going to legally adopt Oscar and make Brad Pitt stay home and change his diapers.

WV: sarback..."What did her face look like?" "Don't know only sarback"

Anonymous said...

Ken, as a fellow Michigander with the above Mr. Coil, I accept your generous offer to come see you palatial digs in Hawaii. I am however waiting for my bail out check, so please, hold on, I'm comin'!

wv...nonswag...what all the not-cool kids are wearing. (Like galoshes, around here)

Anonymous said...

I wanted to join in the love for Shakespeare in Love - really wonderful script. TCinLA absolutely nailed it - after the first 30 minutes SPR is conventional and by the numbers.


Beth Ciotta said...

Ken, I always enjoy your Oscar coverage. Looking forward to it!

BTW, Shakespeare in Love is one of my all time favorite movies. Great acting. Awesome script.

Unknown said...

Ken, why not post that funny comment on the 1998 Oscars here again?

I don't think I ever read it and if it was PC enough to be published in a Book you could really fill up some slow-news-days with posts from your old mailing-list, hm?

Kirk said...

If the Oscars had a "most influential" catagory, Spielberg would surely have won for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. We take it for granted now, but before that movie it never occured to anybody making a sci-fi movie that smoke should come out of an alien ship (which makes me wonder, how advanced can their society be if they haven't even invented the fire extinguisher?)

hosit: a pimp offering one of his girls a seat.

blogward said...

Spielberg's ungraciousness is all part of his 12-year-old boy's sensibility, which is an advantage in a film-maker. Would I pay to read this? You'd have to insult more people more often.

WV: foozop - what you have to have when you get stuck in a soccer table.

Tallulah Morehead said...

"Alan Coil said...
Please, Mr. Levine, tell me again that you are in Hawaii, while here I am in southeastern Michigan freezing my @$$ off."

Please Alan, tell me again that you are in lovely, cool Michigan, while I roast my various symbols off here in Los Angeles. In the immortal words of Judy Garland:

"Oh how I wish again,
I was in Michigan,
Down on the farm."

Or, as another song put it:

"How ya gonna keep 'em,
down on the farm,
after they've seen,
the farm?"

Hawaii isn't all it's knocked up to be you know. Just be glad you don't have to put up with volcanoes. Having your house and family overrun by lava really puts a crimp in your day. And don't get me satrted on what it's like when your daughter wants to date a leper! Oi!

Gotta go. It was just pointed ou to me that I'm wearing my Oscar gown upside down (again), and the limo (a Lincoln Incontinental) is waiting. Not all of us have to write our Oscar reviews while fearing an eruption.


rob! said...

Is it ok if liked both Saving Private Ryan and Shakespeare in Love? From the previous comments you'd think they were mutually exclusive.

I thought both films were great, and hold up very well. They possess very different qualities, which only goes to underscore how silly it is trying to compare movies like this.

That said, Ryan was robbed. Spielberg acting like a dick doesn't make that less so.

Anonymous said...

there are no chicks in Saving Private Ryan. Not cool.

Rob said...

To be fair, Saving Private Ryan is 20 minutes of genius followed by about two hours of shitty movie, capped by the most maudlin crap ending that Steve-o has ever produced.

Shakespeare In Love is the better film.

Unknown said...

'twas Elizabeth that was robbed.

Tiffany said...

Cate Blanchett was robbed by a whining, preening pink cupcake.

And by the way, I would totally buy a book from you. And I love Dave Berry.

I actually met Dave Barry once--when I was thirteen in Miami. He was a huge star in Florida and I walked up to him at FUDDRUCKERS to ask him for an authgprah all..and got so nervous that I giggled and ran away.

Anonymous said...

Sephim, you do realize that this blog - one on which you regularly read and post - is written by a Jewish guy, right?

Free speech and all that, but I agree with the previous poster that listing "anti-semitism" as an 'interest' is anything but funny. I'll go an extra step, and classify it as juvenile at best, and incredibly offensive and asshole-ish at worst.

Given the context, I'm also assuming that your stated interest in 'AIDS' is not exactly from the research/cure perspective, either.

Glad to know you wear a 'big f*cking smile' when you read the words you've written, though. Makes all of those horrific deaths at the hands of those for whom anti-semitism was also an 'interest' SO worth it.

Anonymous said...

If you're going to play that game, consider it changed.

Alan Coil said...

Ken--thanks for the invite.

Tallulah--you's funny.

Unknown said...

Heath Ledger wasn't on the "in memorium" segment because he was on it last year.

Alan Coil said...

If anybody knows fourth-rate crap, it's TCinLA.