Hollywood Reporter is doing some solid work today, catching up with Eileen Bowman, an actress who, in 1989, played Snow White opposite pre-sex scandal Rob Lowe in one of the most disastrous Oscars musical numbers of all time. It was an especially interesting read for me, since I’m too young to remember the number in question (older I get, the more I enjoy saying that). But I’m including the longest video of it I could find. My God, it’s so painful. It goes without saying, but there was a lot of cocaine going around in the late eighties.
The campy live number, arranged and conducted by Marvin Hamlisch, was as over-the-top as the man who masterminded it, Grease producer Allan Carr, a bombastic Hollywood oddball famed for wearing caftans and hosting debauched parties at his disco-equipped house in Benedict Canyon. (That residence, Hilhaven Lodge, is the current home of Brett Ratner, leading some to joke that the place is cursed, at least where producing the Oscars is concerned.)
The bit featured background actors dressed as stars with black leggings and Merv Griffin singing about coconuts, for 15 minutes, even longer and more painful than an SNL cold open these days. Just how bad was it?
Carr was uniformly shunned at industry canteen Morton’s the following day. Disney, which then had no stake in ABC, was furious over the unauthorized use of its copyrighted version of Snow White and filed a lawsuit against the Academy. And 17 Hollywood heavyweights — among them Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Julie Andrews and Billy Wilder — signed an open letter deriding the telecast as “an embarrassment to both the Academy and the entire motion picture industry.”
This is at an event for an organization that invited Billy Crystal back to host last year. You can imagine how bad a bit would have to be to inspire an open letter.
[Bowman, during the audition process] Our first stop was Allan Carr’s house. I remember his swimming pool had pink water in it. He had a 30-foot Oscar outside his door and auditioned us in a robe. The other girl and I looked at each other thinking, “What is happening?”
My dress was bought for $23,000 by someone involved with the production who was buried in it. It was a man. I’m leaving it at that.
[The next day after the Oscars] My phone never stopped ringing. It was awful. All I can say is what Rob Lowe said, “Never trust a man in a caftan.” [THR]
Anyway, it’s a great read, and I’d definitely urge you to check it out. I’d like to think Brett Ratner has since had Allan Carr’s pink disco pool filled with nacho cheese. Disco pool —> Crisco pool.