Oscar Wild!

My Ongoing Love Affair With Those Twisted Awards

Of course, anyone remotely sensible would sell their firstborn just to be near an Oscar—like '74's surprise streaker, who famously paraded his own phallic statuette across the stage to the delight and horror of millions. Alas, his notoriety was instantly shattered by an even better ad-lib when David Niven quipped, "The only laugh that man will probably ever get is for . . . showing his shortcomings." A great Oscar moment—though I'm counting on returning host Billy Crystal to top it when Tom Cruise reveals his Magnolia hose.

My Nights With Oscar

I've covered the Oscars twice in person—which means sitting in the bleak press tent and fighting over slimy melon slices and the chance to ask the Best Documentary Short Subject winner who they are, while the telecast drones in the background. I loved it! I may be delirious, but I vaguely remember glancing at the monitor and noticing F. Murray Abraham announcing that the Best Actress winner of '85 was "the greatest actress in the English language," only to have half the women in the theater start running toward the stage. (He meant Geraldine Page.)

illustration: Brian Biggs

Two years later, the recipients were more clear-cut, Best Picture going to Bertolucci's The Last Emperor, a florid epic that was so long I missed the second half because the kid in front of me grew up. The movie had the kind of sweep and capital-M Meaning that demand Oscars with an insistence surpassed only by Titanic's eventual sinking to the top. But Oscar typically tempered the significance with some pizzazz when Cher turned up wearing another wowser and proceeded to divaesquely rule the night. The wacky half-breed—for real—forgot to thank Moonstruck's writer or director in her acceptance speech, but hey, she did mention her hairdressers. And an even bigger ditz prize went to Bertolucci, who announced that "Hollywood is the Big Nipple!"—a comment he later explained to me by saying, "Nine nominations is a big suck for me—the milk of gratification!"

What a dizzying, glamorous, idiotic, addicting whirl of oh-my-God-it's-George C. Scott-ness. I'm lactating just thinking about the imminent parade of celebs alternately tripping, glowing, and nursing. Even if Cider House rules, I want to thank you, Oscar (and Mommy, Buddha, and William Morris). I like you!


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