a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘The New York Times’

David Carr Dead at 58 at the NY Times. A Great Man Gone too soon.

David Carr, who I had the privilege of knowing, was one of the greats, and he dropped dead in the offices of the New York Times, the paper where he worked, and which he loved.

He was like a character out of Damon Runyon. So his Times Square Media beat fit him perfectly. With his raspy voice, and that penetrating gaze, and his odd-ball looks, he could very well have stepped from the pages of “Guys and Dolls” accept he worked for the NYTimes.So he wasn’t a gansta. He was a SUCCESSFUL Damon Runyon character. But he did have the great compassion for the down-and-outers of the world, having been, unbelievably, a former drug addict himself.

He got himself clean more than a decade ago and wrote a book about it, too. “The Night of the Gun.”

I got to him know when he was creating the Oscar beat at the NYTimes, which was something completely new to them, at the time. A regular blog on the Oscars? And he called it “The Carpetbagger” as in Red Carpet, and he felt like he was a carpetbagger, that ole Civil War term, because he felt like an interloper at these ceremonies. And he had a side-kick, too. My friend Paula Schwartz, whom he called “the Baguette.”

He wrote about the Oscar race incredibly well, not giving quarter to any one or any film. And he did love films. I think he was the one who coined the phrase “the silly season” to describe what we are now in. Which is less than two weeks from Oscar.

He always was encouraging, supportive of any one who was doing what he was doing, trying to make sense, and news, out of the Oscars. He liked me because of my Oscar obsession and my friendships with other Oscarologists. I think I was a Guru o’ Gold for Movie City News at the time.

He loved Sasha Stone and David Poland. And he wrote about them in his column as they had never been covered before, especially Sasha. She wrote ANOTHER incredible piece on her relationship with David, and the shock of his passing at http://www.awardsdaily.com It’s a must read. Every time he was out in L.A., Sashino was his date of choice. Yes, Sashino was Sasha, as Paula was the Baguette. He gave nick-names to people he really liked.

I remember him storming into a press meet-and-great for the film “Milk,” practically shouting at the top of his lungs about a film he’d just had to sit through, “‘Australia’ is a piece of shit!” It was an epic about that continent and he was so vehement about the 2 or 3 hours that were stolen out of his life by this film (which got no Oscar consideration whatsoever, as it turned out), I chose to skip it myself.

He was always very nattily dressed at these events, with the trademark grey scarf that you see him pictured with here.

I knew I was in the presence of a great man, a great writer, a great reporter, one of the giants of our time, and I am so sorry he’s gone. I wish I knew him better.David Carr

Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone Parses the Oscars! In June!

Well, Tom O’Neil’s Oscar throw-down at http://www.goldderby.com has certainly stirred the waters! Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone at http://www.awardsdaily.com parses even further with “Is It Too Early To Predict the Oscars?” And yes, it is. The Silly Season, as it was so named by David Kehr of the NY Times when he pounded the Red Carpet beat with his historic Carpetbagger column, IS far away.

But it’s NOT for those behind-the-scenes folks, the industry peeps who are assembling all this for our delectation. This is stuff is planned YEARS sometimes in advance. And carefully planned, too. Yes, there are people called Oscar Consultants, who are a whole breed of PR people unique unto themselves. And behind the scenes they are working like dogs chasing a bone. Already. Yes, already.

Sasha and others like her have revealed how much it is the Oscar campaigns behind the actual voting that really does sway, yes, the actual voting.

At this time last year, who woulda thunk “The Artist” was gonna win Best Picture? And Jean Dujardin Best Actor? And certainly, Meryl Streep winning her THIRD Oscar was unexpected and a shock to all Oscarologists. Who could’ve predicted it? Well, actually, Tom O’Neill sorta did.

That’s why one has to give credence to his prognostications. If you followed closely at Gold Derby, VERY closely, who could feel the tide shifting at the last minute AWAY from George Clooney and towards Jean Dujardin. A lot of people saw that coming. But Streep? Only O’Neil. But not his staff of Ditto-heads(I refuse to call them Butt-heads, though my spell check changed it to that…lol…) all kept saying Viola Davis.

That’s why, for instance, I give Tom more credence than say, Anne Thompson at Indiewire and Thompson on Hollywood last year. She stubbornly clung on to George Clooney ~ AND Viola Davis til the very last.  And she was wrong.

Just to show that the Oscars still have some life in them.

I knew the Weinstein wizards were working like crazy last year behind the scenes and subtlety as is their wont. But I read the tea-leaves wrong and thought it was Michelle Williams, not Meryl, who would reap the rewards.

Viola Davis, ably abetted by that egregrious Entertianment Weekly issue and cover which pictured her and George Clooney, dressed to the nines,  getting out of a limo, like they had actually won already!. That proved to be BOTH their ondoings. An Academy Voter upon seeing that cover and then reading the embarassing self-congratulatory interviews with BOTH of them “WELL! The Nerve! They haven’t won YET! “would be an Academy members thinking, I thought at the time and still do. Or “Don’t tell US who to vote for!?!“…Viola Davis was doing herself NO GOOD, but the obvious heavy-handedness of all her talk show appearances. I mean, she was on “The View” FOUR TIMES!?!? If that wasn’t overkill…I don’t know what is…

I know. I know. Disney owns ABC, which “The View” is on, and Disney had “The Help.” But in the end as I said at the time, Disney does not know how to run an Oscar campaign.

Whereas Harvey Weinstein does. Of course. But he has to have the goods. I don’t know if “Django Unchained” ANOTHER bloody shoot’em by Quentin Tarantino, is gonna fly all the way with Oscar voters, who historically have avoided blood-shed. IF THEY CAN HELP IT. You can of course point to “The Departed” winning recently and also “No Country For Old Men” But as Sasha has pointed out there were other stories going on in those years i.e. Marty Scorcese never won & ditto, the Coens for “NCFOM”.

I wonder if Universal who has “Les Misearables” is going to be able to do the trick this year.

Paraphrasing Sasha, she feels that Tom O’Neil in listing “War Horse”. oops! I mean “Lincoln,” as the Frontrunner NOW, is putting an albatross, around “Lincoln”s neck.  Or as I’m calling it handing Spielberg “The Golden Albatross” award, this far ahead. Sasha is saying basically that Frontrunners never win. Which is a very interesting observation. Especially lately.

Some people feel that that “Les Miz” trailer with Anne Hathaway is “pre-mature” but I don’t think so. It’s established Hathaway as the one to beat in Best Supporting Actress, and the Best Supporting Actress race is run by a whole different set of rules. I mean, look. That’s where “The Help” won. And the year before that that’s where Melissa Leo, totally off her own bat, won. So different rules apply.All of Disney’s heaving breathing and heavy lifting on “The Help” reaped them ONLY a Best Supporting Actress win. Personally that’s my own favorite category, but still…

Also, Universal is trying to establish a fan-base with a genre that the fanboys of today just don’t flock to. Musicals.  Just from that point alone, I think “Les Miz” has an uphill battle. But the general public is not the Academy.

I mean, just look at this year’s big grossers “Hunger Games” and “Avengers” both of which are films I just can’t bring myself to see….at least not yet…will the Academy award box-office over quality? They certainly haven’t been looking at the bottom line with films like “The Artist” or “The King’s Speech”….Who do they listen to? Well, Harvey Weinstein. But “Django Unchained”? Quentin Tarantino??? I don’t know about that. This sounds like it’s gonna be “Inglorious Basterds” all over again with that film.

And in conclusion, no it’s never to early to predict the Oscars. That’s what we do.

Tony Nominees ~ The Final Parsing

Dear Cineastes, dear readers, dear theatrelovers of literature, my Tony nominee show aired last week in my NYC cable TV time slot, and this week is another brand-new show containing interviews with Emma Roberts and Paul Giamatti and Tony nominee for Best Actor Bobby Cannavale.

The videos of this show have been up for awhile now on You Tube www.youtube.com/StephenHoltShow

But how right were we? And would I change anything now that so many of my critical colleagues have weighed in? And what HAS changed?

Well, for those you of you who don’t want to, or can’t, click on the above link for some reason, here’s the latest.

“The Book of Mormon” “The Book of Mormon” “The Book of Mormon” All three of us pundits on my show DID pick that, too. And it was the only time we all agreed. So that as they say is that. The question remains just how big are its’ coattails? Will it sweep in the Acting categories?

On my show, in the Best Actor in a Musical category, we all agreed that Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad would cancel each other out. But the NY Times’ Patrick Healy, thinks that Josh Gad might have a slight edge. Norbert Leo Butz is what my two TV colleagues said. And I felt it was Tony Shelton for “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.”

EVERYbody on Theatertalk, which shot a Tony show that I couldn’t find(it’s on You Tube under CUNY-TV) because of the pledge week goings-on, all thought Tony Shelton, too.

Norbert Leo Butz won the Drama Desk Award in this category and gave an evidently heart-rending speech. But how much of an overlap is there between the Tony Voters and the Drama Desk? If the show bookers, the tour operators, who supposedly make up  a sizable chunk of the Tony Voters, are looking to award someone who will tour…Tony Shelton is the most likely to do that…

Drag queens with awards? Well, the Tonys have a long history of that. Only last year Douglas Hodge won for his poignant plucky Zaza in the umpteenth revival of “La Cage Aux Folles” They like giving the Tony to an Old Man in a Dress.

But that’s a category that is definitely a toss-up with so many could-win contenders in it.

Two categories that have yielded a clear front runner since we filmed my show at the Bombay Palace restaurant…on a rainy day in May…are Best Actress in a Play, which I agreed at the time with Sherry Eaker, was Frances McDormand. And the other category is Best Actress in a Musical with Sutton Foster! My two compadres, Sherry and Scott Siegel, said Sutton, too. And everyone on Theatertalk did, too.

I said “Patina Miller” in “Sister Act” but since then Sutton seems to be experiencing a groundswell of support, just like “The Book of Mormon” and “Frances McDormand” are. The New York Times didn’t even mention Patina Miller!

The two revival categories~ Play and Musical~ also drew consensus. It’s “Normal Heart” and “Anything Goes” by all. Except me, who said “How To Succeed…”

Oh, Time Out New York agreed with this too. “Mormon”, McDormand and Sutton…

Best Actor in a Play is as up in the air as Best Actor in a Musical. I said Bobby Cannavale for “The Motherfucker with a Hat” but Sherry said “Mark Rylance” for “Jerusalelm” and Scott Siegel said “Al Pacino” for “Merchant of Venice.”

On Theatertalk(you really should try to watch it on YouTube. It’s worth the search.) Surprisingly someone who neither Sherry nor Scott nor I mentioned Joe Mantello from “A Normal Heart” was the consensus winner. With Mark Rylance on the outside. Time Out New York thought Rylance, too….

So THAT category is definitely a toss-up.

And Best Play? Another toss-up. With all four candidates having supporters. Me? I said “Motherfucker with a Hat”. And Scott and Sherry thought “War Horse” as did Time out and a lot of pundits on Theatertalk. “Good People” also just won the New York Critics Circle Award just today after FOUR ROUNDS of voting. And that says something…or does it?

Lots of surprises, toss-ups and blindsides in many, many categories this year, which means it’s been a VERY good year for Broadway.

Watch the Tonys on Sunday night at 8pm on CBS!

The New York Times, EW & their Oscar advocacy

I can’t put up the Michelle Williams article. Yet. Technical difficulties.

But I DO think that Michelle will get nominated. And David Karger of EW agrees with me. He has her in his USUALLY tremendously accurate Oscar nomination predictions. For Best Actress. David Karger, for those who don’t follow all this OSCAR stuff as closely as I or Harvey Weinstein do, is Entertainment Weekly’s go-to guy for Oscar reporting, and he’s pretty astute. One of the best, if you ask me, and of course, you ARE asking me because YOU’RE READING THIS.

And meanwhile they’ve(EW), they’ve  got Natalie Portman looking seriously glamorous on their Oscar cover, and radiating happiness as if to say ALREADY “I’ve won!” And EW is alternating her image with James Franco. He is co-hosting of course with Anne Hathaway. He’s probably going to be nominated for “127 Hours” though his film and the director Danny Boyle won’t. Not doing well with audiences…

But I digress.

So of course, we EXPECT EW(Entertainment Weekly, or www.ew.com ) to come out with an Oscar cover, but boy does it seem EARLY! But of course it’s not early at all. It’s Right On Time. If you want to influence the Oscar voters, the Academy members who have gotten their ballots to fill in right about NOW! So even though it seems like jumping the gun, it isn’t. It’s time, dear readers, dear cineastes, it’s OSCAR TIME! YAY!

And it’s not surprising that EW is doing this Of course, it isn’t. It’s what they DO.

 But it IS surprising that the NYTimes came out with AN ENTIRE SECTION of their Sunday Newspaper called “THE OSCARS” in big, bold type. And with GIGANTIC half-page pictures of Christian Bale and Natalie Portman(yes, her again) and pieces on their characters and their performances in “The Fighter” and “Black Swan.”

And if that isn’t Oscar Advocacy, I don’t know what is.

I think Natalie Portman’s win is pretty inevitable at this point, and of course her nomination is assured. And deserved. The nomination comes first, remember? And the same is probably true for Christian Bale. But his WIN?

Well, according to the NYTimes, it’s a done deal. But I don’t know about that…That category is still up for grabs.

But the SIZE of that picture and that piece!?! And by Manhola Dargis, no less. Is this the objectivity that New York Times is supposedly the last bastion of in journalism?

A. O. Scott the OTHER film critic at the Times wrote the piece extolling Natalie Portman’s performance. There’s three film critics at the NYTimes, if you’re keeping count.

And where was their third esteemed critic? And someone who I’m confused with constantly because our names are so similar, Stephen Holden? And where was Colin Firth?

Well they were BOTH relegated to the last two back pages of this special issue, with an equally gigantic picture of Firth, with Geoffrey Rush, in a WONDERFUL, beautifully written piece about Firth’s performance in “The King’s Speech” by Holden at his absolute best. I was very moved by it.

But it was on THE LAST TWO PAGES?!? Why was it placed there? I guess, because Colin Firth’s win is so assured that the editors of “The OSCARS” didn’t think he needed their extra help. I guess.

But anyway, it was there, after all. And I was glad to see the Grey Lady putting a little color in her cheeks over, of all things, the Oscar race.

But Christian Bale? The front-runner? As far as the New York Times is concerned. This is for Best Supporting Actor, of course. But HEL-LOH, NYT, as good as his performance is, and it’s one of his best, I’m really not sure he’s an Oscar slum-dunk for The Win in that category.

What IF, and it’s more than an IF, what if the ailing Michael Douglas is nominanted for “Wall St. 2” in that category? OK, he’s got TWO Oscars already and one of them for Best Actor for playing Gordan Geko in the original “Wall St.” and an earlier one for  producing “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” which won Best Picture many, many moons ago.

And there’s also Geoffrey Rush’s towering performance, which to its’ credit the Times did en-picture, ON THE LAST TWO PAGES, and shared with Colin Firth for “The King’s Speech.”

So no, I don’t think Christian Bale has got this in the bag. And yes I would expect the LA Times to do something this splashy on the Oscars. They’re in LA after all. But the Grey Lady herself?

Well, I LOVE reading about “The Oscars” no matter if the Times is going to try to influence my vote. Me? Well, if I was a voting member of AMPAS AND I’M NOT, I’d vote for Geoffrey Rush.

It will be VERY interesting to see just how this all pans out since I do think that Bale, Rush and Douglas are all going to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

And Best Supporting Actress??? The Times didn’t even venture an educated guess on that one. THAT’S how up in the air THAT category is!

Stay Tuned!

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