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  Texas : Features : Humor : Column - "A Balloon In Cactus"

Oscar

by Maggie Van Ostrand
Maggie Van Ostrand
Oscar must be very gay right now, or, to put it more subtly, really happy. It's his one night out of the vault so I should think gay is the least he'll be on March 3rd when the Hollywood folks come out to see who's wearing what. Everyone's making book on who'll return their borrowed dresses to the designers and their jewels to Harry Winston's. The track record for returns is dismal.

There was a time when fans eagerly awaited the entertainment industry's night of nights to see real stars, like Clark Gable, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, and to find out if the votes cast by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences agreed with our own opinions.

Now that we have no longer have stars, we can only watch as backless, frontless, mindless starlets and media-created celebrities blithely pose for the cameras and slither their way down the red carpet. Technically, since the festivities are held in ultra-political Hollywood, the carpet should be blue.

Back in the days when studios created magical fantasies into which we could escape our ordinary lives, the name "Warner" meant Cagney, Bogart, and Davis, MGM meant Gable, Garbo, and Garland. 20th-Century Fox meant Gene Tierney, Tyrone Power, and Marilyn Monroe.

It's not the same any more. One of the last corporate giants in the business, Ted Turner, is ready to say goodbye to the industry, and, in particular, the gargantuan media conglomerate, Time Warner. All the Warner name means now is shareholders, mergers, and board meetings.

There's no more MGM; it's now Sony, of which Ryoji Chubachi, of Japan, is President, and 20th Century Fox dumped everything from its name but the word Fox, and is now a subsidiary of News Corporation, another media conglomerate, owned by Rupert Murdoch.

There are no stars left working, except Eastwood.

Difficult as it may be to believe, if the following actors and actresses did not win the Oscar, how can anybody get excited over who does win? All these stars got robbed of a golden statuette --
Oprah Winfrey . . . . . The Color Purple
Bette Midler . . . . . . The Rose
Cary Grant . . . . . . . . The Awful Truth
Judy Garland . . . . . . . A Star is Born
Kirk Douglas . . . . . . . Ace in the Hole
Rita Hayworth . . . . . . Separate Tables
Marilyn Monroe . . . . . Some Like it Hot
Shirley MacLaine . . . . The Apartment
Jackie Gleason . . . . . The Hustler
Peter O'Toole . . . . . . Lawrence of Arabia
Peter Sellers . . . . . . . Being There
Anthony Quinn . . . . . Zorba, the Greek
Steve McQueen . . . . . The Thomas Crown Affair
Richard Pryor . . . . . . Lady Sings the Blues
Dustin Hoffman . . . . . Lenny
Fred Astaire . . . . . . The Towering Inferno
Al Pacino . . . . . . . . . Dog Day Afternoon
Robert DeNiro . . . . . Taxi Driver
John Travolta . . . . . . Saturday Night Fever
Paul Newman . . . . . The Verdict
Angelica Huston . . . . The Grifters
Michael Caine . . . . . . Sleuth
Virginia Madsen . . . . Sideways
Robert Mitchum . . . . The Night of the Hunter
Some of us remember the big stars because we imitated their behavior. We had Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn as role models. We hoped their elegance would be contagious. Who are the role models today? Emaciated Uma? Battling Russell? Pouting Renee?

Monday night's Oscarcast will be a far cry from the old days, but, though we may threaten not to, we'll watch it anyway, if only to find out how many tearful mentions Harvey Weinstein manages to attract from this year's winners.

Assuming the Oscars reflect today's trends as they have done in the past, Oscar will not only come out of the vault on this occasion, he may even come out of the closet.


Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"

March 7, 2006 column
 
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