Monday, February 28, 2005

Soundbytes: The Envelope, Please

ABC Entertainment/AMPAS
Video captures via Jimmy/Austin


TO: The Academy
FR: Me, a Non-Voting
WGA-East Member
DT: 28 February 2005
RE: Black African American People

After 77 years, thanks for discovering us!
Next year, please don't over do it. The key is not to pretend that you're being hip. Just don't be exclusionary.

Now with that being said, let's go on with the show.

"Sit your asses down!"

Chris was doing the damn thang, wasn't he? The AMPAS wanted an edgy comedian to tap younger demos. I'd say Chris Rock'd the Dorothy Chandler Kodak Theatre, no?

Survey sez ... YES. Chris Rock boosts Oscar ratings to a five-year high, Variety reports. The pre-Oscar fears of a black planet host were alarmist; I have to say, I told you so.

Rock's tone was accomodating yet off-the-cuff. Early on, he took aim at the usual suspects—Jack Nicholson, Russell Crowe. No big deal, everyone always talks about them.

The acid-tongued comedian drew some of his biggest laughs with jabs aimed at President Bush, the involuntary star of Michael Moore's biting documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11." That film was shut out of the Oscar competition—basically because Moore and Miramax insisted on campaigning for a Best Picture nomination, as opposed to Best Documentary, the logical category—and was breaking box office records at the time Bush was running for re-election.

Chris' comparison of Bush's job performance to a Gap clerk was hilarious. "Can you imagine closing your register and finding that you are $70 billion short? And then ask for a raise?"

Rock's ghetto-fab jokes weren't so bad; actually some were quite good. Normally, it's irritating to see black comedians mine the race field, especially to primarily white audiences. But his monolgue was clever.

"Black movies don't have real names," he said. "They get names like Barbershop. That's not a name. That's just a location. Barbershop, Cookout, Carwash ... you know Laundromat's coming soon, and after that, Check-Cashing Place." Tru dat, Chris was right.

But Chris was wrong on his skit at Magic Johnson Theatres. Sure, the Academy is often stodgy and out of touch with the hoi polloi. But going down to Crenshaw to get "sound" from the brothaz and sistaz, who are hyping Riddick?

The Albert Brooks ending was unoriginal. Oh well; seeing that Spanglish was given no consideration by the academy, Brooks needed some schtick to appear on-screen.

He's been acting for almost 40 years, has portrayed everyone from the president to God (no George W, they are not one and the same), but Moragn Freeman had to wait until last night to be Oscar.

Morgan Freeman's win made my heart soar. He was so endearing as the Easy Reader on The Electric Company. Freeman's been nominated four times; he should have won it some time ago, for Driving Miss Daisy in 1989 or five years later for Shawshank.

Freeman is fabulous at 67. Even more stunning was his presenter, Salli Richardson Halle Berry. But let me ask: was Chris joking about Catwoman 2? She gave him that get over yourself.

Beyonce's To-Do List
1. World Domination?
2. Sing all nominated Academy Award songs
3. Worldwide Pepsi Commercial
4. Svengali-like boyfriend
5. Catapult to Superstardom

All jokes aside, but does anyone realize that Beyonce has appeared on these pages exactly ONE TIME before? Should I turn my card in? Not my your second quarter dues are overdue WGA card, nor maxed out credit cards or the well-worn metrocard ... but my GBM card. Okay, time to gush:

Beyonce's rendition of Look To Your Path from "Les Choristes" ... well, let's talk about how she looked.

Fab.U.Lous. The camera angles were quite complimentary, the choral arrangement impressive. And mind you, I'm not a huge fan. But it's hard not to admire her beauty. BTW, who is doing her makeup—God? She's flawless.

Now, back to Look To Your Berlitz French in Five Minutes Path. Her range is incredible; she had some problems with le Francais, and the jokes are coming. At one point, one of the little boys looked at her with an expression that could best be described as ... WTF? confused. Beyonce's no Liza Barbra—well, some even say that today's la Streisand is no Barbra, either—but for better or worst, she's my generation's next best thing. Her performance was as good as any non-classically trained pop superstar singer.

Mrs Jay Z Miss Knowles performed three of the five tracks that were nominated for the best song. Polar Express' Believe and Learn To Be Lonely from Phantom were the other two. On the latter song, she was accompanied by Phantom's Andrew Lloyd Weber. That was a classy touch, seeing the two of them together. I'll have to keep that memory in mind when I see B perform with Kanye.

"That son of a ...."

Sofia Okenedo is having a great time, but co-star Don Cheadle wasn't. Everyone knew that it was Jamie’s night—even Ray Charles Helen Keller saw that one coming.

Was Cheadle slighted because his performance was dramatic and well-written in an art-house movie? Jamie's role was good; certainly not great. We're talking about a bio-pic about a famous (blind) singer; that's instant Academy Award buzz right there, regardless of subject. My thoughts: if anyone deserved nomination from the movie, that would be Miss Regina King.

Jamie accepted the award and my first thought was, don't do the Ray Charles thing. But of course, he did, and the largely Bel Air and Beverly Hills audience responded ... lukewarm, shall we say.

Second thought: my, that speech is shorter than expected.

One of these things doesn't belong with the others

Then came the obligatory cutaway to the few other black faces usual suspects.

But the directors were smart. Let's sit all the black folks together so we can find them easier!

Next year: Beyonce performs all the songs in a three minute medley!