Oscar Podium Meltdowns

It was later discovered that Littlefeather's real name was Maria Cruz, and she wasn't an Apache. She was, however, winner of the 1970 Miss American Vampire contest.

At least Brando gave the ceremony a few laughs. A few years later, Vanessa Redgrave won best supporting actress for "Julia" and used her acceptance speech to rail against "Zionist hoodlums."

Dozens of police officers had to quell a protest outside the theater. Playwright Paddy Chayefsky, who followed Redgrave onstage, quipped, "A simple 'thank you' would have been sufficient."

Stars can usually say whatever they like, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences simply takes a grin-and-bear-it approach. In 1974, however, when producer Bert Schneider read a greeting from the Viet Cong delegation, Oscar organizers enlisted Frank Sinatra to issue a disclaimer:

"We are not responsible for any political references made on the program, and we are sorry they had to take place this evening."

If Stars Don't Leave, Strike Up the Band

More often, the academy is simply worried that stars won't stop blabbing, cause the show to run too long and force most of the country to tune out before the best picture is announced. That's when the Kodak Theatre orchestra stands ready to drown out the winners who bask in the spotlight too long. This works, sometimes.

Julia Roberts certainly wasn't going to take a hint when she won best actress. The "Erin Brockovich" star simply ignored the 45-second acceptance speech time limit, and spoke directly to conductor Bill Conti, when his band began to play, to let the broadcast cut to a commercial.

"Sir, you're doing a great job, but you're so quick with your stick," Roberts said from the podium, clutching her statue. "So why don't you sit because I may never be up here again. … I'm so happy … I love it up here."

At the 2004 show, Will Ferrell and Jack Black wrote lyrics to the Oscar orchestra's unofficial drown-out music -- a song they sang in great harmony called "You're boooorringgg!" Winners, however, are willing to take that risk.

'I'm Practically Unprepared'

As longtime host Johnny Carson once observed, the Academy Awards are "two hours of sparkling entertainment spread over four hours." Oscar organizers have fought for years to curb the length of the show, but it's hard to stop the stars once they've got a microphone and start thanking their manager, publicist and everyone else on their checklist.

Cuba Gooding Jr. undoubtedly set the record for saying "I love you" a total of 14 times, thanking everyone from Tom Cruise to God, when he won best supporting actor for "Jerry Maguire."

Even after the orchestra interrupted him, he continued, "Everyone who was involved in this, I love you! I love you! I love you!"

Today's marathon shows make it impossible to even consider the crisis of 1958, just six years after the Oscars became a TV event, when the show ran 20 minutes short, and host Jerry Lewis had to ad lib his way through the rest of the evening, getting the winners to dance together and sing "There's No Business Like Show Business."

There was even a time back in the late 1920s when the Oscar shows were held in private. "There is something embarrassing about all these wealthy people congratulating each other," Cary Grant said of the ceremony, as if he'd had a crystal ball.

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