The Oscars are probably still going on from a week and a half ago, but I stopped watching after only 16 hours, fully satisfied with the parade of bizarre psychological glimpses into the real lives of fake people. What a fabulous fiasco—they somehow streamlined the telecast down into the longest one ever, and tossed in so much boredom that the much dreaded Robin Williams number proved to be by far the highlight! All the nominees who were so humble and self-effacing in the preshow were suddenly all choked up come awards time, positively gagging on their own grandeur. Michael Caine was one of the few who refracted the glory elsewhere, but with an insistence that was almost as off-putting; gushing over each of the four losing nominees, he rubbed the failures’ faces into humiliation all over again (though Caine did it so charmingly he transcended restrictions of good sense).
Most of the night was so dead I have a feeling only Haley Joel Osment could really see it, but weird dichotomies kept breathing perverse life into the proceedings. You had to sit there agog over all the phonies standing and cheering for Andrzej Wajda (I’m sure Heather Graham has long analytical debates with Ed Burns about Man of Marble versus Man of Iron); Angelina Jolie getting way too cozy with that fey-looking brother, James Haven Voight (though watching them in action, it seems kind of right); the star of King Gimp flailing out of his wheelchair with excitement (finally, some real emotion); Kevin Spacey—who, with this new index finger theory, may have to wear gloves—threatening to bring the mother again (fine—anything but that Diane creature); Garth Brooks adding a surly touch to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” (he was mad that Whitney Houston had, um, come down with a sore throat and been replaced by Faith Hill); and Cher insisting that she was pulling off a “grown-up” look (only Cher would think electrified seaweed hair and a jeweled cross hanging over her crotch are tasteful, which is why we love her to death).
By the way, it was Cher who sang “Alfie” over the credits of that ’66 Michael Caine movie, not Dionne Warwick, who had the hit cover version and didn’t even want to do that! But naturally, Dionne took the bows during that endless retro medley on Oscar night. (And don’t even ask me about how Cilla Blacka recorded it before Cher.)
In nonaward news, Madonna‘s cover of “American Pie” peaked on Billboard‘s Hot 100 at 29—a rare flop for the eternal pop queen, who probably should have driven her Chevy to a different levee. I’ve been losing sleep trying to come up with reasons, any reasons, for the song’s tanking, and figure it can’t be that The Next Best Thing uncomfortably used it for manipulative effect in the context of an AIDS death; no one saw the film. More likely, the video—featuring Madonna in Courtney Love-ish drag, replete with an exposed ass crack, but doing a Springsteen-type comment about America, with a strong gay presence added—was not the kind of thing Total Request Live feeds on. But maybe Dionne Warwick’s version will click.
Not that you asked, but in the Britney Spears look-alike sweepstakes, I appreciate the sudden swarm of BS wannabes in the following descending order: Mandy Moore (even younger and more available-looking than Britney), Hoku (she’s fresh-faced and charismatic, despite being Don Ho’s daughter), Christina Aguilera (a Britney imitator who beat her for a Grammy, which is like giving Jennifer Love Hewitt an Oscar for Sabrina) and Jessica Simpson (hammy—and a virgin yet). Britney still rules—though she’d better come up with some variation on her perennial alternating between big-titted dance songs and weepy theme-park ballads.
And now, in way less than four hours, here are my own awards for the best entertainment this little town has to offer. The Townhouse is still the most efficient place at which to pick up an entrepreneurial young gentleman while the pianist belts the ballad from The Little Mermaid. The Tigger Movie remains the best flick of this year so far. (Spare me the straitjacket; I’m quite serious.) East Is East had the cutest premiere, with Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman canoodling nonstop, as if to disprove gossip reports of postpartum sexual cooling. (As a bonus, Nina Griscom told me you shouldn’t serve cheese cubes at a party, and East‘s star, Om Puri, said, “I’m not the Tom Cruise of India, but I could be the Robert De Niro.”) Joseph Losey’s restored ’62 film Eve, coming to Film Forum, is the most soigné misfire; it has wanton woman Jeanne Moreau—the Robert De Niro of France—telling a smitten novelist, “Don’t fall in love with me,” before destroying his life and cooing, “I told you not to fall in love with me.” But I didn’t totally fall for Anna Deavere Smith‘s House Arrest at the Public Theater—a near miss in which the talented one runs around the stage changing costumes and jumping centuries while trying to score points about tainted presidential behavior. Deavere Smith is a faultless mimic, but as she tirelessly renders impressions of everyone from Abe Lincoln to George Stephanopoulos, you start wishing for a presidential pardon.
Meanwhile, the queen, Boy George, is afraid of mirrors—well, mirrored disco balls. One of them tumbled for him and almost killed him in London recently, so to DJ at Jeffrey Sanker‘s Palm Springs White Party on April 21, George has contractually arranged to be at least 50 feet away from the glitter ball—supposedly the world’s largest—at all times. I make the same stipulation about proximity to Jessica Simpson.
I would have brought my mother to the eighth and last Jackie Awards, but they started so late, and besides, the fake girlfriend was totally available. The honors—for performances given at Mother’s now defunct Jackie 60 night—were très glamorous, marred only by the vicious heckler who yelled at a drag presenter that she looked like Lionel Richie! The offstage buzz was all about whether that Angelina girl should be interrupted in her sibling revelry. This curious case of getting your Jolies—either a matter of sheer narcissism or a rising up against the oppression of divorce—has certainly plucked the interest of the Downtown demimonde. Does the Jackie family think the bro/Jo team has crossed the line? Amanda Lepore: “Maybe. I’ve seen them together.” David Ilku: “I thought he was gay!” Mo B. Dick: “No. She can’t find the right-sized dildo.” Kitty Boots: “I would if I were her.” Hattie Hathaway: “I haven’t seen them since 1979.” Hattie meant the Oscars, not Angelina and her brother, who she’s never seen.
By the way, the name Jackie 60 was finally explained at the Jackies—something involving slave names at a bordello—but it was way better as an irritating mystery. Now, finish your cheese cubes and don’t fall in love with me—or my brother.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 4, 2000