By Michael Russnow
HollywoodNews.com: The Academy Awards was a lot better than last year’s offering and generally moved along pretty well. However, Billy Crystal’s performance was mixed. Sometimes he was spot on and in other instances resorted to forced humor that missed its mark.
After Morgan Freeman’s opening we saw Billy in an uninspiring repeat of what he’d done so well many times before, inserting himself into reproductions of well-known clips from the top films. Maybe it’s because he’s done it so many times. It’s true that he hasn’t been host since 2004, and we often enjoy an entertainer repeating his or her best work, but like an aging singer whose voice doesn’t hold up when the muscles sag, what was downright hysterical in past years, like when he came out as Hannibal Lecter in 1992, this go-around didn’t work too well for me in 2012.
The one exception was from The Descendants, when George Clooney recreated his visit to his comatose wife, played by Crystal lying in bed. Clooney’s kiss was so heartfelt it provided a big laugh. The Justin Bieber bit from Midnight in Paris wasn’t bad. Not so much the scene with Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible, nor was Crystal’s business spoofing The Help or Tintin particularly funny.
Oddly when he segued into his Oscar medley it worked better, with the lyrics sharp and engaging. After that, it was hit and miss. Sometimes very clever and other times flat. And when the latter happened he often responded defensively, at one point indicating the band in the pit liked the joke. He also was a bit insensitive regarding the age of some of the nominees as he mentioned octogenarians Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow, followed by senility jokes at their expense. Considering that Crystal himself is pushing 64 and that ageism besetting Hollywood is rampant with many talented professionals unemployed, it’s just not funny anymore.
As the three hour ten minute show progressed, they whizzed through awards at a relatively rapid pace. Instead of starting with a celebrity award, such as supporting actor and actress, they began with Tom Hanks presenting Oscars for cinematography and art direction, both of which went on the scorecard for Hugo.
There was a montage of film clips that moved along all right, but, unless I missed one, it appeared that it was as if movie history began with 1969′s Midnight Cowboy, because none of the featured films [...]
Tag Archives: James Earl Jones
By Michael Russnow
HollywoodNews.com: The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted tonight to present Honorary Awards to actor James Earl Jones and makeup artist Dick Smith and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to philanthropist Oprah Winfrey. All three awards will be presented at the Academy’s 3rd Annual Governors Awards dinner on Saturday, November 12, at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center®.
Born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, Jones made his film debut in 1964 in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” In 1970, he earned an Academy Award® nomination for his role as boxer Jack Jefferson in “The Great White Hope.” Jones has appeared in more than 50 feature films including “Claudine,” “Conan the Barbarian,” “Field of Dreams,” “Coming to America” and, as Vice Admiral James Greer, “The Hunt for Red October,” “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger.” Additionally, Jones has also voiced some of the most iconic characters in motion pictures including Darth Vader in the Star Wars trilogy and Mustafa in “The Lion King.”
Known as the “godfather of makeup,” Smith began his career in 1945 as NBC’s first makeup man. He is known for his makeup artistry on such films as “The Godfather,” “The Exorcist” and “Taxi Driver.” In 1984 he won an Oscar® for his work on “Amadeus,” and received a nomination for “Dad” (1989). As an educator, Smith helped train many of today’s Academy Award-winning and nominated makeup artists including Rick Baker, Greg Cannom, Kevin Haney, Kazuhiro Tsuji, Mike Elizalde and Carl Fullerton.
Since receiving her Oscar nomination for her debut film performance in “The Color Purple,” actress, television host and producer Winfrey has gone on to establish herself as one of the most influential figures in entertainment and philanthropy. She has been especially dedicated to supporting educational initiatives and raising awareness of issues that affect women and children, both in the United States and around the globe. Her philanthropic efforts have included Oprah’s Angel Network, the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, which opened in South Africa in 2007.
The Honorary Award, an Oscar statuette, is given to an individual for “extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an [...]
By Roger Friedman
Denzel Washington has two Academy Awards. Come June, he’s going to be able to add a Tony Award as well to his collection of gold statues.
Last night at the Cort Theater, Denzel and Viola Davis opened in a revival of the late August Wilson’s “Fences” –directed by Kenny Leon– to cheers and raves. Each of these actors deserves a Tony for their work, and my guess is they will get them. Very few this season (maybe Alfred Molina, Laura Linney, Jan Maxwell) came close to the work they’re doing at the Cort. They are just mesmerizing as a couple whose 18 year marriage is not what it seems.
And while Denzel’s Troy wants to put up fences to keep out trouble, it’s he who inevitably invites it in. It’s not Wilson’s most sophisticated metraphor, but almost three decades after it premiered with James Earl Jones, Mary Alice, and Courtney B. Vance, the play resonates. The audience is just as vocally involved as they were when I saw it in 1987. (The play takes place from 1957 to 1965 in a city that could be Detroit or Pittsburgh.)
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DENZEL WASHINGTON TALKS ABOUT “FENCES”
Cicely Tyson is the latest woman to join the list of honorees for the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon that takes place on Thursday, March 4 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Tyson will receive the Legend Award at the event and joins other honorees Queen Latifah, Zoe Saldana, Mary J. Blige, and Gabourey Sidibe.
Tyson has become one of America’s most respected performers making her way from model to actress and has appeared with actors George C. Scott, James Earl Jones, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bill Cosby, and Laurence Fishburne among others.
ESSENCE editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray said, “The ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon will pay homage to the outstanding work and contributions of Ms. Tyson. She is a Legend because she continues in her craft with passion and integrity – an accomplishment to which we all aspire.”