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|Written by Steve Dominey|
|Thursday, 08 January 2009 16:01|
The day is Friday, December the 12th. The editors at (Cult)ure have e-mailed me at least three times about an article I was supposed to have in by the 10th. I have ignored each one of them. You can do this when you write for free.
It’s not like I don’t want to write. I’m actually extra motivated after finding a stack of my past works on one reader’s toilet - the greatest compliment one man can pay to another - but I’m often at a loss for ideas. In the past, I just got stoned and waited for them to magically appear (this is probably why Chevy Chase’s career ended so suddenly), but I’ve recently quit smoking, leaving the cupboard more bare than the Maple Leafs’ farm system.
To compensate, I got drunk as a son-of-a-bitch and was surfing the Web when I noticed a headline so outrageous, so infuriating, so inexplicable that I transformed into a cross between Hemingway and The Hulk.
"TRIPLE-THREAT HUGH JACKMAN SHAKES UP OSCAR FORMAT."
Yeah, why not? Who better to host a show honouring film’s biggest stars than a guy with no Academy Award nominations, no ability to fill seats, and no discernable talent whatsoever? Sounds like a triple-threat to me.
While we’re at it, can we tab The Killers to host the Grammys, Andrea Bargnani for the ESPY’s, and Howie Mandel for the Emmys…oops, sadly that already happened when Mandel co-hosted the 2008 Emmy Awards with fellow reality hosts Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Ryan Seacrest, and Jeff Probst, in what Entertainment Weekly called "The Dumbest TV Move of 2008."
And here the Oscars are, doomed to repeat the same mistake by handing a non-comedian solo hosting duties for the first time since 1985, when Jack Lemmon did the honours. Since you can make the argument that Lemmon was a comedian - he certainly starred in a lot of hit comedies - then you have to go all the way back to 1963. But hey, I’m sure Jackman will be every bit as good as Frank Sinatra.
What, is Steve Martin busy making another kids flick with Bonnie Hunt? Can’t we promise Billy Crystal a full season with the Kansas City Royals? We’re really left with Hugh fucking Jackman?
When this pending debacle was announced, the co-producer of the telecast, Laurence Mark, said there was a desire to steer clear of stand-up comedians. "We are trying to get away from this late-night talk show rut," he said.
Hmmm, that’s funny, especially considering Ricky Gervais already turned down the gig after refusing to censor his humour. "It's a historic, stuffy thing… I would want to have fun with it, and I don't think they would want me to do that," said Gervais. "I'm not going to change and do safe comedy to please certain people."
Which is exactly what Chris Rock and Jon Stewart were forced to do in recent years, making for especially disappointing television considering their obvious talent. In fact, the last man to escape the Academy’s shackles was David Letterman in 1995. While funny to fans of comedy, Letterman was jeered by a lowbrow audience that has always been more interested in what today’s big stars are wearing. Plus, no one makes fun of Oprah! Nobody.
So, if the Academy and the viewing public don’t want edgy comedy like that displayed by Russell Brand at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, what do they want?
"It seemed to us that we needed to turn a corner and get somebody who is, imagine that, a movie star," said Mark.
Hmmm, a movie star you say? Sure Jackman is great as Wolverine - a role he would’ve never played had Dougray Scott not gotten injured on the set of Mission: Impossible II , forcing producers to go to their sloppy seconds - but the man is no movie star. He’s just an actor who has milked his X-Men celebrity harder than Pierce Brosnan milked Bond during his 007 days.
While The Prestige , helmed by Christopher Nolan, is a good flick, Jackman’s resume is full of stinkers like Kate & Leopold , Van Helsing, and his latest turd Australia . The film, starring the equally overrated Nicole Kidman, made Crocodile Dundee II look like a blockbuster in comparison, grossing only $10.9 million US in its opening week after costing more than $130 million to produce. Ouch.
So if Jackman’s not a movie star, what was the Academy after?
"It certainly did not escape us that Hugh looks terrific in a tuxedo," Mark said.
Ahh, that’s more like it. Fresh off being named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive (which could be the only thing more ridiculous than him being named host), Jackman will seemingly be perfect for the Oscars, known by advertisers as the Super Bowl for women. After all, Jackman can sing and dance! He won a Tony Award in 2004 for his role in the musical "The Boy from Oz", and an Emmy in 2005 for his appearance as host of the Tonys.
"We are still at the preliminary conversation stage about what Hugh wants to do, but his theatrical talent certainly does give us reason to do at least one musical number," said Mark.
This just keeps getting better doesn’t it?
I understand the need for change - ratings for last year’s Oscars plunged to a record low, with about 32 million people tuning in, compared with 55.3 million a decade ago, but there’s no need to go Bollywood on our ass.
What people want is a shorter show with more entertainment value. Let us know who died and all, but stop going crazy with the montages, limit speech times of anyone whose Q-rating is lower than Josh Hartnett’s, and forget about categories like "Best Sound Mixing," "Best Makeup" and "Best Pixar Movie to make over $3 billion overseas."
Also, it might help if the Academy avoids handing out awards to bad films like Crash , quits pretending Clint Eastwood is Jesus, stops making the event into the lifetime achievement awards (see Denzel, Training Day ), and let comedians do what they do best.
Stop tying comedians hands and turn a tedious night of self-congratulation into a spontaneous, must-see event.
Or just let Will Smith host. That guy can sell any piece of crap.