On with the show – half of it, at least

The People’s Choice Awards this year had no live ceremony, no live audience and almost no live viewers. It was a collection of pre-taped clips and the usual, “It’s an honor just to be nominated” nonsense. Or so I hear. Like most of you, I didn’t watch it.

The Golden Globe Awards show, a completely unnecessary event in the best of times, usually runs three hours long loaded with plenty of celebrity face time. This year it got reduced to an hour of film clips and talking heads. Again, that’s just what I hear. Like most of you, I didn’t watch it, either. There was no red carpet, no embarrassing acceptance speeches, no fake looks of surprise on the winners’ faces.

“Who! Me! A winner! You’ve got to kidding! I deserted my wife and kids and became an actor to fill this big empty hole inside me – not to win awards! This is such a complete shock!”

These ceremonies weren’t trimmed because the celebrities couldn’t ad lib such lines as “Nice dress, Angelina,” and “It’s a pleasure to be here tonight,” without union writers, but because most actors are in the Screen Actors Guild and would not cross the Writers Guild picket line.

Union people stick together and help each other. It’s the only way millionaire actors can stand up against billionaire producers. Some actors have even let the writers make a little extra money during the strike by hiring them to clean their pools, weed their gardens and baby-sit their kids. It’s worked out particularly well since illegal immigrants are getting harder to find while it’s easy to find unemployed scriptwriters on every corner. Solidarity forever!

Fortunately for the writers, everyone in Los Angeles is in a union. The musicians, the limo drivers, the red carpet installers, the cameramen, the cops, the firemen, the food handlers, and the cleaning crew, the reporters, the teachers, the migrant workers, the telephone linemen, the electricians. Pool boys and producer’s assistants are about the only unaffiliated people in the whole town. So, feel free to exploit them.

The way things are going, it looks as if many of the other awards shows will suffer the same fate as the Golden Globe Awards. The Grammys, the Oscars, the Tonys ... whoops! Never mind, who would notice if they skipped the Tonys? But you get my drift.

I say we should go ahead with the Oscar ceremony anyway, even if no one shows up but the CPAs who counted the ballots. Let some functionary from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences come out and read the nominees and then announce the winners.

After he reads the winner’s name he could look in the camera and say, “So-And-So couldn’t be here tonight because the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would rather loose a few billion dollars than settle. We accept this award on So-And-So’s behalf. We would also like to thank their agents, their spouses, their children, their nanas, their parents, their pets, their fans, their producers and anyone they’ve ever met in their entire life.”

I would watch that. If it were, say, a half an hour long. I never understood why there was plenty of time for five, five-minute long musical numbers but not enough time for a $20-million-a-movie actor to say hello to his parents? Have you ever gone to a movie just because the song they play over the closing credits was nominated for an Oscar? Is that why you went to see “Meet the Parents?” For the music?

Showing an unglitzy, unvarnished awards might add a much-needed touch of humility to the movie business. I mean really – the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? How pretentious can you get? They’re people who make movies, they didn’t map the human genome, they didn’t discover dark matter, they didn’t cure polio. Shakespeare, in his entire life, never belonged to anything as lofty as an Academy of Arts and Sciences – but Lindsay Lohan and Adam Sandler do? Bring it down a notch, would ya?

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at jim_mullen@myway.com

Copyright 2008, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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