SEARCH:  
Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Saturday 26th February 2005

Will Chris rock Hollywood's world?


In Hollywood, the only genuine element of suspense hanging over this year's Oscars is what kind of rating the ceremony gets when it's shown on American television. Forget about who wins a gold statuette. The really important question is whether the audience for this year's telecast will hold up. So far, award shows have not been faring well in 2005. The Golden Globes attracted 40% fewer viewers than it did last year and the audience for the Grammies was down 25%. Will the Oscars take a similar hit?

It's precisely this concern that prompted the producer of the 77th Annual Academy Awards, Gil Cates, to hire Chris Rock to host the ceremony. At first sight, the foul-mouthed black comic may seem a strange choice, particularly when you set him alongside such tried-and-tested performers as Steve Martin and Billy Crystal. But once you factor in the ratings anxiety it makes more sense. What better way to make sure people watch the show than to hire a loose cannon like Chris Rock? People will tune in just to see if he uses the f-word.

So far, Rock has played his part to a tee. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, the three-time host of the MTV Music Video Awards said he'd never watched the Oscars himself and the only black men he knew who had were screaming queens. "What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars?" he said. "Show me one!" He went on to condemn the very notion of handing out prizes for artistic achievement, branding all award shows "f---ing idiotic". Asked what he was going to be wearing, he replied: "Nothing against people who aren't straight, but what straight guy that you know cares? Who gives a f---?"

The chances of Rock reigning himself in on the night are pretty remote. The last thing he wants is for the ceremony to go off without a hitch. If he ends up being branded a safe pair of hands he can kiss goodbye to his career as an edgy, urban comic. He only has to look at what happened to Whoopi Goldberg to see how damaging a successful stint as an Oscar host can be. Whoopi's career took a nosedive after she was added to the roster of rotating hosts in 1994. Since then, her main claim to fame has been as a regular contestant on a game show called Hollywood Squares alongside Barbara Eden, Erik Estrada and Stefanie Powers.

Even if Rock does succeed in gingering up the ratings, I'm not sure that hiring him is such a great idea in the long term. Who will the producer of next year's Academy Awards get to follow him? Quentin Tarantino? Once you've decided to take the show in this direction, each year's host has to be more controversial than the last. The fact that the format of the Oscars hasn't changed in 50 years is part of the ceremony's charm, in my view. It's now so out-of-date it has a quaint, old-fashioned quality. It's like a throwback to a bygone era. I enjoy the lack of irony, the sheer excess of it all--and I speak as a red-blooded heterosexual.

Still, I'll be tuning in to watch Chris Rock step up to the podium in the small hours of tomorrow morning. The prospect of him being outrageously rude to all those Hollywood stuffed shirts is just too good to miss.

THE HOOK

One thing to watch for during the Oscars is how the director of the telecast reacts if one of the winners goes on speaking beyond their allotted time. The general rule is that each acceptance speech must be no longer than 45 seconds--and the winners are left in no doubt as to when their time is up. After they've been speaking for 30 seconds, a clock will appear on a monitor in front of them to count down the last 15 seconds. After that, the words "WRAP IT UP" appear in bright red letters. If that doesn't work, the director instructs the orchestra to begin playing "noodling" music over the top of the speaker and, if that doesn't do the trick, the director will wait for a pause in the speech, go to a wide shot, cue the "play off" music and retract the pop-up microphone.

Of course, none of this applies if the speaker happens to be the winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress. No Oscar telecast is complete without a long, tearful speech by an over-emotional Hollywood starlet and this year will be no exception. Hilary Swank, the hot favourite, is bound to overrun by at least ten minutes, thanking everyone from her agent to her Yorkshire Terrier's psychiatrist. I can't wait.

IN AND OUT BURGER

The official after-party at each year's Oscar ceremony is the Governor's Ball, catered by Wolfgang Puck, but few of the guests have time to attend this lavish, sit-down dinner. Most of them can't wait to hit the road as soon as the Best Picture Award is handed out, eager to do as many "drive-bys" at unofficial parties as possible.

But this presents a problem: Where to eat? After sitting through the four-hour ceremony, most of the audience members are absolutely ravenous, and the thought of staying up the rest of the night on an empty stomach is daunting. The solution is to pop into one of the fast food restaurants dotted around West Hollywood and one of the more bizarre sights on Oscar nights is the long line of limousines, many of them carrying A-list movie stars, queuing up to place their orders at the Drive-Thru In and Out Burger on Sunset Boulevard.

VANITY UNFAIR

By common consent, the hottest ticket of Oscar night is the Vanity Fair party. People go to extraordinary lengths to try to secure a place on the guest-list. Someone once called up a member of the magazine's staff and offered them a bribe of $300,000 (£215,000) for an invitation. "Give them my cellphone number," the editor joked when he heard about this. "I have four children to educate."

I actually worked for Vanity Fair for the best part of three years, yet I was only allowed to go once. To date, the only non-celebrity successfully to gatecrash the party was a hack from the Star supermarket tabloid who turned up in 1996 with a pig on a leash. Claiming it was the pig from Babe, which was a Best Picture nominee that year, the reporter sailed past the clipboard Nazis who were apparently unaware that over a dozen pigs took turns to play the title role.

Since then the party has been made gatecrasher-proof. These days, in order to get anywhere near the entrance you have to get past a series of checkpoints manned by Los Angeles County Sheriffs. Even if you're on the list, that's no guarantee you'll get in. Invitations are staggered according to whether you're A-list, B-list, C-list or D-list, with those at the bottom of the food chain only being allowed to come at the end of the evening. Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, for instance, was turned back in 1998 when she arrived at 9.30pm. She'd been told not to get there any earlier than 11.30pm.

[ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Twitter @NiranjanAjit @tgemiles @NickJTimothy No, but the first to contrast somewheres with nowheres. I took it to be a rif… link  (2 hours ago)

BEST OF THE WEB

The Warlock Hunt by Claire Berlinski - the-american-interest.com
Is classical liberalism conservative? by Yarom Hazony - jerusalemletters.com
The Implosion of Western Liberalism by Patrick Lee Miller - quillette.com
The Eton of the East End - Daily Mail
The reactionary temptation by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
The book that scandalised New York intellectuals by Louis Menand - newyorker.com
To understand Britain today, look to the 17th Century by Adrian Wooldridge - economist.com
The crisis in France by Christopher Caldwell - city-journal.org
A Visit to Michaela School by Patrick Alexander - prospectmagazine.co.uk
Why parenting may not matter by Brian Boutwell - quillette.com
Trump Establishment's Cultural Significance Explained by Michael Wolff - newsweek.com
Branching histories of the 2016 referendum by Dominic Cummings - dominiccummings.wordpress.com
Putin's Real Long Game by Molly K McKew - politico.com
The Flight 93 Election by Publius Decius Mus - claremont.org
How the education gap is tearing politics apart by David Runciman - theguardian.com
What's wrong with identity politics by Graeme Archer - conservativehome.com
Grammars and the grain of truth by Jonathan Porter
Anti-Brexit: Britain's new class war by John O'Sullivan - nationalreview.com
The English Revolt by Robert Tombs - newstatesman.com
Democracies end when they are too democratic by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
Human beings really are making progress by Steven Pinker - edge.org
What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood - theatlantic.com
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray - quadrant.org.au
Beware the soft Stalinists of the campus by David Aaronovitch - thetimes.co.uk
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter - conservativeteachers.com
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win - youtu.be
Corbyn's first seven days - theguardian.com
Corbin's cabinet chaos by Darren McCaffrey - news.sky.com
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons - gq-magazine.co.uk
Inside Westminster's free school - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn's politics are a fantasy – just like Alice in Wonderland by Tony Blair - theguardian.com
Robert Conquest obit - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that - news.stv.tv
In defence of free schools by Toby Young - standpointmag.co.uk
 

BLOGROLL

Andrew Lilico
Andrew Neil
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Normblog
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Slate
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone
 

COLUMNISTS

AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
 
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.com


  • IMdb Page on the film