Anatomy of an Oscar Campaign: Sandra Bullock does David Letterman

02.09.10 9 years ago

A series of intriguing events occurred on Monday night.  While many Oscar nominees were still fishing for votes at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Sandra Bullock, the current Best Actress frontrunner who claimed “I’m so not winning an Oscar!” to reporters during her stop at the annual awards season showcase over the weekend, had already moved on. By Monday evening she was casting a wider net for support by stopping by “The Late Show with David Letterman” in New York City.

Certainly, Warner Bros. and their Oscar consultants knew Monday would be a big ratings opportunity on “The Late Show” following the Super Bowl on the same network (CBS) the day before.  Plus, it didn’t hurt the now defunct “Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” is in reruns.  However, no one could have predicted that the Super Bowl would be the most watched television show of all time or that one of the most talked about commercials during the broadcast would be the “Late Show” promo with Letterman, Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey.  It doesn’t take a genius to realize a lot of people tuned in to see if Dave commented about the promo (yes, he joked about it,) and — surprise — discover a better late than never interview Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees.  You can also pretty much guarantee more Academy members were glued to the tube to see Dave than out in classy old Santa Barbara.  Can you say, “cha-ching”?

Now, the whole purpose of the visit was under the guise to talk about Bullock’s movie “The Blind Side” — that came out in November mind you — but the questions quickly turned to Oscar.  One of the reasons Bullock is so beloved in this town all around is she’s as down-to-earth as she appears on camera, she’s blunt to a fault and, even more endearing, self-deprecating as well.

When asked about the whole Oscar scenario by Letterman, Bullock combined all of those attributes by deadpanning, “Shocking. I’ve been around awhile.”

But then, whether it was a talking point or not, she gave a heartfelt and seemingly honest comment about her nomination.

Bullock reflects, “I always thought moments like this were pre-planned and there was an agenda and its been very unexpected and sometimes uncomfortable and overwhelming, but I was talking to Drew [Breeze] and you just have to take it in and enjoy it.”

Letterman steers the question to her fellow nominees which include Carey Mulligan, Helen Mirren and Gabourey Sibide and when she ends with Meryl Streep he takes an opportunity to lighten the conversation.

“Oh, that loser,” Letterman says as the crowd laughs. “Why doesn’t she just stay at home?”

Bullock has the perfect, doting reply, “Why don’t they just make a separate category for Meryl Streep where if she does a film that year she gets it, because her work is going to far surpass anyone else.”

The interview then turned even more comedic (or would that be embarrassing?) as the duo talked about the acceptance kiss between Bullock and Streep after the ladies tied for Best Actress at the Critic’s Choice Awards last month.  After Letterman won’t give up asking how this happened, Bullock zings,”I suppose you’ve never kissed a woman before Dave.”

She probably didn’t mean it, but the crowd takes it as a dig to Letterman about his marital infidelities and she gets a very big laugh. Touche.

“The Blind Side” hardly needed more publicity with over $240 million and counting, but it was a very nice break for Bullock’s Academy Award journey. What it proved is that while she may be a first-time nominee, Bullock’s many years in the spotlight have already made her a seasoned master at playing the awards season game.

And that’s a compliment people.

To see highlights of Bullock on Letterman, check out the embedded video below.

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