Emma Stone is in talks to headline Woody Allen’s next film. Deadline is reporting that the actress is currently in talks with the writer/director/actor and is expected to close her deal soon.
As this is the ultra-secretive Woody Allen we’re talking about, outside of the fact that the film will shoot in the south of France, there is nothing else known about the project including even a basic storyline or title.
In the meantime, Allen has Blue Jasmine with Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and Louis C.K. recently completed and scheduled for release later this year.
Screenwriter Mickey Rose, a childhood friend of Woody Allen’s who collaborated with the comic on some of his early films, died Sunday, April 7, in Beverly Hills. He was 77.
Rose and Allen met at Midwood High School in Brooklyn, becoming friends over a shared love of jazz, baseball and movies and they would frequently skip school to head to a Dodgers game or into Manhattan to see a film. They both enrolled in New York University and while Allen flunked out, Rose earned a Bachelor’s Degree in film.
Rose first worked professionally with Allan on the comedy What’s Up Tiger Lily?, where the pair, along with a small number of other writers, redubbed the Japanese spy movie Kizino Kizi into a ridiculous story about secret agents scrambling to find a classified egg salad recipe.
Following Tiger Lily, the Rose and Allen wrote what would become Allan’s directorial debut, Take The Money And Run. The two completed the script to the mockumentary about an inept bank robber who rises to the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted list in just three weeks while sequestered in a room at the Plaza Hotel. Rose was also on location in San Fransisco, helping to add gags during production.
The duo followed up Take The Money And Run with the story of a New Yorker who inadvertently becomes leader of a revolution in a Latin American country, Bananas. The film had its roots in an aborted adaptation of Richard Powell’s comic novel Don Quixote, USA for director Robert Morse that the two had worked on.
Rose’s and Allen’s partnership ended in 1970, when the writer headed to Los Angeles to work in television. He contributed scripts and material to such shows as All in the Family and Love American Style. He also wrote the comedy film I Wonder Who’s Klling Her Now? and did some uncredited script work on Disney’s Condorman.
The term “cameo appearance” was coined by producer Michael Todd to describe the number of small roles filled by big name stars in his 1956 film Around The World In 80 Days. But Todd was merely putting a name to something that had been a part of films all the way back to the Silent Era and would continue right to the present day. Here is a chronological look at perhaps the greatest of the hundreds and maybe even thousands of cameo appearances that have been made in the movies.
Elinor Glyn In It (1927) -As described in a two-part Cosmopolitan Magazine serial by Elinor Glyn, “It” is “that quality possessed by some which draws all others with its magnetic force. With ‘It’ you win all men if you are a woman and all women if you are a man. ‘It’ can be a quality of the mind as well as a physical attraction… The possessor of ‘It’ must be absolutely unselfconscious and must have that magnetic ‘sex appeal’ which is irresistible..” When Paramount decided to turn Glyn’s piece into a film, there was only one starlet in their studio they knew they cast in the role of the girl with “It” – Clara Bow. And to help explain the concept of “It” to other characters in the film and the audience, the studio had Glyn appear in the movie herself. Not only that, in one of the first instances of product placement, issues of Cosmopolitan are also seen. Although Bow was a star at the time of its release, the film proved such a sensation that the actress was ever after known as “The ‘It’ Girl.”
Alfred Hitchcock in Rebecca (1940) – If anyone’s name is synonymous with cameo appearances it would be director Alfred Hitchcock. Hitch knew the value of self-promotion and through his walk on roles in his films and appearances in his films’ trailers he was as easily recognizable as any big star of the time. He made his first on screen appearance in a newsroom scene in 1926′s The Lodger but would only appear sporadically until his move to America. Beginning with his first Hollywood studio film, Rebecca, where he stood behind star George Sanders in a phone booth, Hitchcock would make an appearance in every single one of his films for the rest of his career. Sometimes that would prove to be a tricky proposition, such as for Lifeboat, but it was a savvy move that helped insure that his name became its own brand.
Raymond Chandler in Double Indemnity (1943) – As creator of the detective Philip Marlow, Chandler was one of the shapers of the hardboiled detective genre. It seems only natural that when Chandler began working in films, his first screenplay would help define cinema’s equivalent – the film noir. By all accounts Chandler and Double Indemnity director Billy Wilder never did get along all that well, so it came as a bit of a surprise two years ago when it was realized that the gentleman reading a newspaper whom star Fred MacMurray walks past at an early point in the film is Chandler himself. Given their contentious relationship, it is not surprising that neither Chandler nor Wilder ever mentioned the appearance. It is a shock, though, that Chandler’s obvious cameo went unnoticed and unremarked upon for nearly 67 years until it was finally discovered in 2009.
Jack Benny in It’s In The Bag (1945) – One of the most famous show business feuds from the 1930s and 40s wasn’t really a feud at all, but a running gag between two friends. Jack Benny and Fred Allen were comedians who got their start in vaudeville, where they formed a lifelong friendship. By the mid-1930s, they each had their own popular radio shows that aired on Sunday evenings, albeit at different times. During a 1937 broadcast, Allen made took a swipe at Benny’s ability to play the violin. (Benny’s bad violin skills, as well as his vanity and cheapness, were all part of his comedy persona only, and by all accounts were pretty much exactly the opposite of the comedian when he was off-mic.) Benny heard the comment, and made a good natured jab at his friend on his own show later that evening and the back and forth continued for more than a decade. Never mind the fact that they each appeared on the other’s programs, people believed that they were actual blood enemies. That perception was furthered by the 1940 comedy Love Thy Neighbor in which both comics starred as their feuding radio personas. But for as funny as that film was, it is outdone by Benny’s single scene in Allen’s 1945 comedy It’s In The Bag. Allen stars as a man who realizes that the key to a $12 million inheritance lies in one of the five chairs he just sold. Guess who happens to have come into ownership of one of the chairs.
Bryan Forbes in A Shot In The Dark (1964) – Hiding behind an acoustic guitar and the screen name of “Turk Thrust,” British actor/writer/director Forbes makes his appearance in the second Pink Panther film as guard at a nudist camp that Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) and Maria (Elke Summers) are attempting to gain entrance to in the course of their investigation. Forbes was a friend of Sellers and had created a pop star persona with the name of Turk Thrust for him. Sellers never used the character although he did go on to do – more films as Clouseau. Forbes went on to direct such films as King Rat (1965) and The Stepford Wives (1975) while Turk Thrust made a reappearance of sorts in The Curse Of The Pink Panther (1983) when Roger Moore made a quick cameo under the nom-de-screen of Turk Thrust II.
Graham Greene in Day For Night (La Nuit Americaine) (1973) – Sometimes a cameo appearance can go unrecognized by a film’s audience. It is another thing for a cameo to go unrecognized by a film’s director. While Francois Truffaut was filming his story of a filmmaker struggling to complete his latest project, Greene was introduced to the director as a retired English businessman living on the Cote d’Azur. Trufaut cast the writer in a small role as a British insurance company representative who arrives at the Victorine Studios in Nice. Reportedly, Trufaut was upset to learn that the British man was actually the famous novelist and critic, as he was a fan and would have loved to talk with him.
Marshal McLuhan in Annie Hall (1977) – In Woody Allen’s classic comedy about New York and New Yorkers, the characters played by the director and Diane Keaton are standing in line for a movie when he hears a man in behind him pontificating about Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan. Annoyed that the man is getting his facts wrong, Allen steps out of line, breaks the film’s fourth wall and begins telling the audience how irritated he is. The man notices, steps up next to Allen and tries to speak to the audience in his own defense. The two begin to debate until Allen trumps the man’s argument by pulling McLuhan out from behind a lobby display to affirm that he and not the other man is right about McLuhan’s work. Not only does the scene work in conjunction with several other comedic scenes that break the reality of the love story that Allen is telling, there’s an added layer of humor if one is familiar with McLuhan’s theories about how society shapes media and media shapes society. And besides, who hasn’t agreed with Allen’s scene capping line “Don’t you wish reality was really like this?”
Steve Martin in The Muppet Movie (1979) – Jim Henson’s delightful The Muppet Movie is chockablock full of big name stars in fleetingly small roles – from Dom Deluise as the Hollywood agent vacationing in the Florida everglades who tells Kermit the Frog he needs to head to Los Angeles to become a movie star to Orson Welles as the studio head Kermit and his pals eventually meet (“Get me the standard ‘Rich and Famous’ contract!”). Along the way they meet the likes of Milton Beryl, Paul Williams, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Mel Brooks and more. But by far, the funniest cameo of the bunch is Steve Martin’s surly waiter. As Kermit and Miss Piggy try to have a romantic dinner, Martin’s waiter sneers at them while bringing them the cheapest item on the wine list (“Sparkling Muscatel, the best wine Idaho has to offer.”). It cracked up the seven-year-old me who saw it when the film was first released and it still makes me laugh today.
Susan Backlinie in 1941 (1979) – The opening of Steven Spielberg’s classic Jaws (1975), in which a late night skinny dipper becomes a midnight snack for the titular shark, was so powerful that it instantly became an iconic moment in cinema. So much so that just a few years later, it was parodied in the equally iconic, though for far different reasons, disaster spoof Airplane! (1980). But Spielberg beat them to the punch by a year, poking fun at himself in the opening to his 1979 comedy 1941. While the Airplane! parody featured a jetliner’s tailfin cutting through clouds with a variation of John Williams’ classic ominous two-note tuba score playing on the soundtrack, Spielberg opened 1941 with a midnight swim being interrupted by the arrival of a rather lost Japanese submarine. And Spielberg, being Spielberg, asked Backlinie, who played the unfortunate swimmer in Jaws to come back and recreate the scene for the gag. Unfortunately, Spielberg’s sense of humor was perhaps a bit more developed than his ability to direct humor, as 1941 didn’t particularly turn out to be the comic masterpiece one would expect with a cast including the likes of John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Animal House’s Tim Matheson. The movie wound up being one of the director’s rare critical and box office failures. Don’t feel bad for Spielberg, though. I understand his next film, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, did a bit better at the box office.
Ethel Merman in Airplane! (1980) – I’ve often said that the Zucker-Abrams-Zucker comedy Airplane! is perhaps the funniest 86 minutes of celluloid ever. It is certainly the one most densely packed with comic material with puns, sight gags and bizarre non-sequiter jokes coming at the viewer in rapid fire succession. But perhaps one of the funniest is nestled in a flashback where we find Ted Striker (Robert Hayes) recovering in an Army hospital from his traumatizing war experiences. As he points out to his girlfriend Elaine (Julie Hagerty) some of the other soldiers suffering from trauma on the ward, he indicates “Poor Lt. Horowitz. He thinks he’s Ethel Merman.” The camera pans over to the famous Broadway singer who suddenly bolts upright in her bed and starts singing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” until orderlies rush in and tranquilizer her. You have to hand it to Merman for being able to spoof herself like that. And by placing herself in the hands of a trio of first-time directors, she landed herself a dual spot in the cameo and comedy halls of fame.
Sean Connery in Time Bandits (1981) – They say that the best thing about screenwriting is that you can write anything in your first draft. It’s only later that you have to worry about pesky things like how much it will cost to bring your vision to life on the big screen. And so it was that Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin, with just a few keystrokes, introduced the character of the Greek warrior king Agamemnon into their classic time travel comedy with the words “removing his helmet, revealing himself to be none other than Sean Connery. He grins as only Sean can. (This is the sort of creepy stage direction that helps get the stars interested.)” Creepy or not, Gilliam was able to land Connery for a role far smaller than one would have expected from the former James Bond at the time.
Bob Hope in Spies Like Us (1985) – While not the best comedy on director John Landis’s resume (that would be The Blues Brothers), Spies Like Us is an enjoyable enough Cold War riff on the old Hope and Crosby Road movies with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd standing in for Bob and Bing. It only makes sense then that Hope pops up as himself for an absurd gag referencing those comedies. Landis loves to feature his filmmaking friends in his movies, so also keep a lookout for some notable behind-the-cameras luminaries appearing here including a young Sam Raimi as a guard at a top secret government installation and Terry Gilliam and Ray Harryhausen as part of a group of doctors on a mercy mission in Afghanistan. In fact, you can see them in the clip below right before Hope’s cameo.
Sean Connery in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991) – Yes, Connery gets two mentions on this list because, well, he’s Sean Connery. This wasn’t the first time that Connery had appeared in a Robin Hood film. Fifteen years earlier he played the titular folk hero at the twilight of his years in Robin And Marian. This time around, he makes an appearance at the end of the film as King Richard the Lionheart, recently returned from the Crusades. As Robin and his Merry Men have spent much of the preceding film fighting the King’s evil, despotic brother, the monarch arrives to offer his thanks in a scene very similar to the finale of the classic 1938 version starring Errol Flynn. Connery was on one of his career highs at the time and critics who saw advanced screenings of the film were sworn to secrecy to preserve the surprise of his appearance.
Alec Guinness in Mute Witness (1995) – When makeup artist Billy Hughes (Marina Zudina) is in Moscow working on a film shoot when she accidentally sees a Russian film crew shooting a snuff film. This doesn’t sit well with the Russian mob with a gangster known only as The Reaper ordering her death. Although the actor is shrouded in shadows when on-screen, there is no mistaking his voice as belonging to Sir Alec Guinness. What’s not so apparent though, is that Guiness actually shot his scenes nine years earlier! Director Anthony Waller was in the midst of trying to get Mute Witness made when met Guiness in Hamburg, Germany in 1985. Asking the actor if he would mind shooting a quick scene for the film, he was surprised when Guiness offered to do it for free. The only catch was that since his schedule was so busy they had to shoot it in an underground car garage the following morning before Guiness had to catch a plane. And since it took Waller nearly a decade before he was able to get the film into production, the scenes he quickly shot with Guiness that day became the actor’s last screen appearance.
Stan Lee in The X-Men (2000) – Perhaps the person who has made the most cameo appearances in films without being named Alfred Hitchcock is Stan Lee. As a writer and publisher at Marvel Comics in the 1960s and 70s, he had a hand in creating a majority of the publisher’s most iconic characters. Now, as those superheroes are being turned into big screen franchises, it has become a tradition to feature Lee in a don’t-blink-or-you-may-miss-him walk-on as a Time Square vendor, a security guard, the Fantastic Four’s mailman or some other small bit part. Although he had a small role in the 1989 TV movie The Trial Of The Incredible Hulk, as the jury foreman of course, the tradition of Lee’s big screen appearances started here in Bryan Singer’s The X-Men, with him as a beach hotdog vendor. Given that X-Men’s box office performance exceeded many people’s expectations, Lee’s continual appearances seem as much for good luck as they are a token of respect.
If you saw a film or attended a Broadway play in the 1970s or 1980s, odds are you heard his music. He has created numerous songs that have become modern day standards. He is one of eleven people who have won the competitive “EGOT”–An Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony and he is only one of two people who added a Pulitzer Prize to that list (the other was Richard Rodgers).
His name was Marvin Hamlisch, and he passed away yesterday.
Hamlisch was a child prodigy, and entered the Julliard School Pre-College Division at age six in 1951. Just over twelve years later, he got a job as Barbara Streisand’s rehearsal pianist during her involvement with the Broadway musical Funny Girl, starting a working relationship the pair would revisit a number of times in the future.
The first film Hamlisch provided music for was a 1968 Burt Lancaster vehicle, The Swimmer. From then, he would provide music for over 40 films, receiving 12 Oscar nominations, and winning three awards in 1974, one for The Sting (for Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score and/or Adaptation) and two for The Way We Were (for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score and Best Music, Original Song for the title song, an honor he shared with Alan and Marylin Bergman). He worked on three films with Streisand (The Way We Were, Funny Girl, and The Mirror Has Two Faces) and numerous concert specials with the singer, which garnered him multiple Emmys. He also scored two early Woody Allen films, Take the Money and Run and Bananas. Other films of note Hamlisch worked on were The Spy Who Loved Me, Ordinary People, Sophie’s Choice, and Three Men and a Baby. The last film he worked on was 2009′s The Informant! for director Steven Soderbergh.
Hamlisch also composed the music for the Broadway musical A Chorus Line, for which he won his Tony and the Pulitzer Prize. At the time of his death, he was working with Jerry Lewis to bring the latter’s The Nutty Professor to Broadway.
Woody Allen has always been one for keeping the plots of his films fairly under wraps while filming. But while he is currently working away on his latest, and still untitled, project in San Francisco, the SF Appeal‘s reportage on the filmmaker coming to town included the following bit of story detail-
[A] romantic comedy film about a woman trying to make it on a budget when she moves to San Francisco after her posh New York City lifestyle comes crashing down, according to the San Francisco Film Commission… The film commission said the movie is about a wealthy woman who finds herself broke and in San Francisco, living with her sister and downsizing her life. She eventually meets a man in the Bay Area who could solve her financial problems, but she first needs to discover who she is and, more importantly, accept San Francisco as her home.
Very intriguing, especially when you consider that Allen’s films usually are driven by their characters’ neuroses rather than any particular circumstance that they find themselves in. Think of the leads in Annie Hall, Manhattan or even his more recent work like Match Point, Vicky Christina Barcelona or his latest To Rome With Love. Those stories have all been dictated by their characters more so than the circumstances surrounding them and that has given them a certain timeless quality that transcends whatever decade Allen happened to make them in. But this story seems very much tied to current events, specifically the recent economic downturn that has impacted most Americans’ lives in one way or another. Could this be a shift we are seeing in Allen-the-writer? The answer might not be readily apparent until we see this film when it gets released next year, and quite possibly not even for a few more films over the next several years.
Those who have travelled with me know that I like to work in visits to real world movie and television filming locations onto the itinerary. And such side trips have taken me from places like Cincinnati’s Fountain Square as seen in the opening to the classic sitcom WKRP In Cincinnati to the Tribecca firehouse that serves as the headquarters of the Ghostbusters.
The blog ScoutingNY has not only been a wonderful site highlighting the great and stunning architecture that Manhattan and its environs have to offer, but it has also been a great resource for finding sites that have previously been used in various films. The past two weeks, the blog has been taking a tour of New York City’s five boroughs, tracking down the locations of Woody Allen’s quintessential romantic comedy about New York, Annie Hall in which he starred with Diane Keaton.
Allen is well known for his use of the city as his own personal backlot, and this two part article is a great trip back in time to how the city looked in the 1970s. As location shooting traps sites in cinematic amber, this trip highlights the contrasts the changes three-and-a-half decades has brought. We can see where neighborhood movie theaters and Cooney island roller coasters have disappeared. Changes run from the cosmetic updates to the Central Park Zoo to a bookseller that now houses a Prada store. Perhaps more amazing is how some of the little things like street blocks, store fronts and even park benches have remained same.
It’s a fascinating read if you’re a Woody Allen fan or just planning on a trip to Manhattan and want to see some sites that aren’t your usual tourist destinations.
In a move that certainly is leaving nearly everyone scratching their heads, Woody Allen has cast Andrew “Dice” Clay in his latest film. Yeah, you read that right.
In slightly more understandable news, Allen has also cast comic Louis C. K. in the untitled project. Also in the ensemble cast are Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Emerson, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, Max Casella and Alden Ehrenreich.
The film is scheduled to shoot later this summer in New York City and San Fransisco, the first time that Allen has shoot in that city since 1969′s Take The Money And Run.
The raunchy and controversial Clay had a meteoric rise to fame in the late 1980s and a just as meteoric fall. His critics accused his act of being homophobic and misogynistic while some of his defender claimed that he was merely parodying those types of people. No one would ever confuse his style of comedy with Allen’s which makes this news rather puzzling on its face.
However, before his emergence as a stand-up, Clay was also working as an actor with credits that include an appearance on an early episode of MASH and in the films Making The Grade, Night Patrol and Pretty In Pink. His last film appearance was in the 2001 indie comedy One Night At McCool’s, though he was credited under his birth name of Andrew Silverstein.
Every now and then there comes a year when it seems that there are an inordinate number of really good films out in theaters. Is it the result of some sort of cultural zeitgeist or is it just mere coincidence? Who can say? But what can be known for sure is that the summer of 1982 was one of those magical movies times. On the 30th anniversary of that summer we will take a look back at some of the many movies that made that summer so memorable.
The original plan was to include just one scene from a 1930′s film into their new project, Depression. But Steve Martin and Carl Reiner, aided by screenwriter George Gipe, couldn’t stop at just one classic Hollywood clip for their follow-up to their 1979 smash hit, The Jerk and so their comedy about the 1930s became a spoof/homage to the film noir flicks from that era and beyond–replete with footage from the greatest noir films of all time, and Depression became Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.
It might be easy to dismiss Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid as an entertaining trifle not worthy of serious consideration. But the comedy has an indelible place in cinematic history, not only for the movies it influenced, but for the Hollywood legends for whom the film was their last entry in their storied resume.
Reiner and Gipe were tasked with going through hours upon hours of classic noir films to try to get footage they could build their script around. Once they found enough dialogue that they could use, they built a hard-boiled mystery surrounding a private eye named Rigby Reardon (Martin) who is hired by a mysterious woman by the name of Juliet Forrest (Rachel Ward) to investigate the death of her father. The investigation uncovers a Nazi conspiracy and brings Reardon in contact with a universe of Hollywood’s most glamorous stars, ranging from Cary Grant to Kirk Douglas, from Joan Crawford to Ava Gardner.
The film sent up the noir film trademarks–the femme fatale who can’t be trusted, the detective who falls for his client, the wise-cracking, witty dialogue–all filtered through a lens of unabashed silliness. For instance, one of the detective story staples is how the mystery is revealed. Typically, it’s either the detective revealing what he’s figured out or the bad guy explaining his plans to the captured good guy. Here, it’s both: Reardon races with the Nazi general (Reiner) to get the story out first.
Here’s about 15 minutes of scenes from the film to give you an idea of what I am talking about:
The film was a goofy parody of the film noir genre, but also a tribute to it. This shows in the way Reiner tried to capture the look of the classic films and allow them to fit seamlessly with his new footage. There was no computer magic here. It was all done with creative editing and stand-ins wearing costumes. This is where one of the most legendary names in Hollywood history came into play.
Legendary costume designer Edith Head was called in to costume the film, totally appropriate considering some of the films she costumed, including Double Indemnity and The Glass Key were used by Reiner in this film. If Reardon was talking to Veronica Lake in a scene taken from that latter film, Head insured that Lake’s 1980s stand-in was wearing that same dress Lake was and Steve Martin was wearing the same suit worn by the character Lake was speaking to in the original film. Now imagine doing the same thing every time Martin interacted with an actor from decades in the past and you understand why Edith Head is still recognized over 30 years after her death as the best ever in her field.
Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid would prove to be Head’s last film, as she succumbed to an incurable disease of the bone marrow shortly after the film wrapped. It would also be the last feature done by Oscar-winning composer Miklós Rózsa, who, like Head, worked on many of the films the creators culled footage from. He would retire after this film, but his work on it added a sense of continuity and authenticity the parody needed. Rózsa would pass away in 1995.
We would only have to wait a year before the film’s influence was felt. Woody Allen would use blue screen technology to insert himself into archival newsreel footage in 1983′s Zelig. And over a decade later, Robert Zemeckis would use computer generated imagery to have Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump meet everyone from JFK to John Lennon. But Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid was the the start of the idea.
1982 is a very historic year in cinema, and there might be more films that are better remembered or of more historical import. But Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid deserves mention in any discussion of the Summer of 1982 for the trends it set and the legacies it honored.
You could probably count the number of films that Woody Allen has appeared in where he wasn’t the director. In fact the last time he did so was back in 1991 with Scenes From A Mall with Bette Midler. (Or 1998, if you want to count his vocal work in the animated Antz.) If we take Allen’s signing on to a project where he won’t be in charge as a positive sign, then we should perhaps start looking forward to actor/director John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo as it is being reported that Allen will be joining the cast of the indie comedy.
According to Variety, Allen and Turturro will be playing best friends who turn to gigoloing as a way to supplement their meager income. Arousing the suspicion of the Hasidic community where they live, the two adopt fake names. Complications arise in which characters to be played by Sharon Stone and Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara will figure.
This is not the first time that the two have worked together. Allen cast Turturro in a small role in his 1986 classic Hannah And Her Sisters. Allen has also contributed one of three one-act plays that will make up Relatively Speaking, Turturro’s Broadway directorial debut set to open next October.
Production is expected to get underway next month.
The 2012 Oscars were a vast improvement over the 2011 Oscars for one reason. No, not because there were more surprises–they were just as predictable. Not because of star power either–the stars were out both years. The reason why this year’s Oscar telecast was the best it’s been in years–Billy Crystal.
Crystal might not be the Oscar host the Academy wants, but he is the host they need. You might think him to be too “old school” or too “borscht belt” but you need a Master of Ceremonies that has experience running an event with this much glitz and glamour. You need someone at ease in his role and not afraid to seem foolish. You need someone who rolls with the punches a live show throws at them, joking all the way. And you need someone who can make a three and a half hour show fly by in such a way that the audience says “They’re at Best Picture already?” instead of “When are they ever going to get to Best Picture”. You need someone who can make the ceremony fun and exciting, not seem like the Bataan Death March of awards shows.
You get all this and more with Crystal. Granted, his night wasn’t perfect (His “you’re in his eye sight” line when Christian Bale came out would have been funnier if his Terminator: Salvation set dust-up wasn’t four years and five movies ago) and he relied on old gags like “What are the celebrities thinking.” (because, well, they worked), but for the first time in years you had the sense that the Oscar host actually wanted to be there and was having fun while on stage. And this sense of joy translated to the presenters and winners as well.
There weren’t many surprises this year. Meryl Streep might have seemed like one, but her Oscar win was notunforseen. Woody Allen winning Best Original Screenplay came close to being a true upset, but even still it was widely acclaimed as Allen’s best work in years and not a complete surprise.
Now what stands out in my memory as the Best and Worst moments from last night’s telecast:
The acceptance speeches from the acting winners: All showed genuine emotion and seemed natural and heartfelt. Touching.
Christopher Guest & Company mocking the focus group: A little bit of insider editorial comment on the value of test screenings and a reminder why these people’s movies even at their worst are entertaining.
The way Zack Galifianakis introduced himself: As someone with a long, hard to pronounce last name, I could truly appreciate this bit, even if no one else could.
Jim Rash’s instantaneous mocking of Angelina Jolie: If you’re going to pose awkwardly to show off your gams to the world, leave it to the Community cast member and ex-Groundling to call you on it.
Cutting off Octavia Spencer’s speech: Spencer’s speech was heartfelt and emotional. I was captivated and rapt. It was a great Oscar moment. And they rush her off the stage. The powers-that-be should know that while they do need to keep the proceedings moving, they should allow great moments like this one to just happen.
“Hugo!” “No, Hugo!”: Why don’t you both go so we can get to the next award. Academy? This is the one you should have cut off.
Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph’s introduction to Best Live Action Short: I hope this doesn’t sound prudish or misogynistic, and my anti-Kristen Wiig bias might be showing, but a penis joke? Really? Stay classy ladies.