I read publicity maven Peggy Siegal’s Oscar weekend diary at The Huffington Post with the expected mixture of fascination and disgust. You find yourself smiling at the gluttony of Hollywood during awards season until you don’t, as the cup of excess runneth over. And Siegal’s diary is a perfect record of all that superficiality.
One of the delights of being in New York this year has been watching Siegal in action. She’s a machine, a force of nature. And any A-list celebrity will say exactly as much about her. The legend is she stole her old boss’s rolodex and that’s how she expanded her self-made horizons, but she pretty much runs the city when Oscar campaigns make their way here. The season is her hour, and one as contentious and competitive as this last one was ended up being the perfect opportunity to see her in the thick of her element.
Some people take a stab at this kind of man-on-the-scene stuff during the season, but no one’s nailed it like Siegal does here. Regarding the line to pick up tickets for the show:
“Suddenly, a messenger slipped in and cut the line. He announced to the uniformed guard in a stage whisper, ‘Dreamworks,’ and it was as if God-like Steven Spielberg himself had just delivered the Gettysburg address: The messenger was ushered upstairs–the final act of the ‘Lincoln’ campaign.”
Further hinting at catty industry attitude toward Spielberg’s film:
“Voters knew that Obama had secretly hosted three screenings in the White House, but they weren’t invited.”
Getting to the heart of why Emmanuelle Riva was never going to win Best Actress and why people like me were just lost in a healthy dose of wishful thinking:
“The French phenomenon doesn’t speak English; neither did last year’s Best Actor winner Jean Dujardin. Riva had never been to L.A. Her campaign felt like voting for a ghost, even for her 86th birthday.”
Speaking of which, I loved this little aside about George Clooney’s “revenge” on “The Artist” star Jean Dujardin:
“I huddled with George Clooney to discuss ‘The Monuments Men,’ a movie he is directing in Berlin about the Nazis’ theft of art owned by Europe’s Jews. I asked him, ‘Who dies?’ He said, ‘Two Jews, one Frenchman.’ I asked, ‘Who is the Frenchman?’ He said, ‘Jean Dujardin.’ I asked, ‘How?’ He said, ‘I shoot him.’ I asked, ‘How many takes?’ He said, ‘Thirty-five.’ I said, ‘Justice will be served.’ He smiled and nodded knowingly. This is Clooney’s sweet revenge toward Dujardin, who beat him last year for Best Actor without uttering a word.”
And did everyone step on Amy Adams’s “Oscar de la Renta silver-ruffled train?” I feel like Anne Thompson mentioned she did the same when we did our postmortem podcast after the fact. Or was that someone else’s train? I have no idea.
Anyway, if you haven’t had your fill of last season yet, you should give Siegal’s piece a look. I wish it had come out the week after the Oscars rather than a month later, but this kind of in-the-thick-of-it recollection gives you a lot of perspective on Hollywood’s glamorous yet somehow gaudy big night.