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February 21, 2008

Power to the peeps

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Think there's no room at the Oscars for a regular Johnny Lunchbucket like you? Think again.

Not long ago, while the Academy and the show producers were still flailing about with Plans B, C, and D, in case the writers strike continued and pickets threatened to strip the stars from the telecast, some salt of the Earth folk offered to do their part to keep the party going.

In a Q&A with Oscar bigwigs Gil Cates and Bruce Davis, THR's Ray Richmond tried without success to squeeze any new tidbits out of the pair. But he found out something fascinating when he asked if tourists and random passersby would be grabbed off Hollywood Boulevard to be part of a strike-plagued show.

"Well, you're joking, Davis said, "but it was kind of fun when we'd thought about using presenters from other walks of life. You have no idea how many people sent us very formal letters and e-mails asking if they could serve as presenters on the show."
"They were dead serious. We're talking about people who described themselves as simple fans who loved movies. We got inquiries from actors, fans, young kids. They were like, you know, 'I've always loved Daniel Day-Lewis and seen all of his movies and would be honored to present the award in his category.'"

Turns out this isn't the only (faux) way in to this most auspicious of events (are you listening, Paris?)

Davis said he politely responded to all those well-meaning potential stalkers with a "thanks, but no thanks, unless this entire evening blows up in our faces. If so, we'll give you a call."

Check Friday's THR for the full story.

And over at Oscar.com, you could get swept up in the emotion and pomp of the awards by downloading your own "acceptance speech." No, not kidding. Accepting for what, you might ask? Well, there were a few folks with apparently no self-esteem issues whatsoever and 30 or 40 seconds to kill who took the bait, thanking their moms, their agents, themselves and anyone walking by for the honor they did not win. Those videos were up for several days before someone wiped them away. Oh, how fleeting is fame.

That section has now been replaced by make-your-own ads for Dove, and, as one of the big money sponsors of the show, it's not too surprising that the company elbowed the little guy out of the way in order to hook in some brand evangelists.

It was a lot more entertaining before. We'll lodge a complaint and see if that does any good. Yeah, right.

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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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