Entertainment behind the scenes
from Photographers' Blog:
You’ve just won your Oscar, given your acceptance speech to the world and are whisked off stage. The world watching on television goes to a commercial break as you are escorted off to meet the press, first stop “The Photo Room”.
You come around a corner and step up onto a 60-foot long low-rise stage. Behind you are three 10-foot golden Oscar statuettes, each surrounded by a bouquet of colorful flowers. In front of you is a grandstand of 60 well-dressed photographers who all want you to hold up your award and look at them, and no one says cheese.
In actuality “The Photo Room” has very little to do with the art of photography on Oscar night. We have all come in days prior and hung strobe lights, tested power packs, synced our data feeds out of our digital cameras, inputed IPTC codes, selected the IP addresses back to our editors and tweaked our lighting from edge to edge. On Oscar night it’s all about the winner looking at you.
So the photographers yell: “to your left,” “to your right,” “over here,” “kiss the trophy,” “look up,” “look down” and “it’s me."
from Tales from the Trail:
As the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno must have on-the-ground knowledge of the American military teams that defuse roadside bombs in Iraq.
So it seems like high praise, indeed, that he complimented the Oscar-winning movie "The Hurt Locker" for how it portrayed the sacrifices made by bomb disposal soldiers in the Iraq war.
There is little doubt in our mind that if the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was filled with 10 ft. tall blue people with tails, that “Avatar” would have won the best motion picture Oscar on Sunday night.
But it’s not — perhaps sadly. “Avatar” and director James Cameron picked up three awards in technical categories: visual effects, art direction and cinematography. And for the highest grossing film of all time — $2.6 billion worldwide and counting — that seems like robbery. You can read about “Avatar” as an Oscar “loser” here. And there is no doubt, it lost. But did the Academy get it right?
Foreign filmmakers may not pander to Oscar like some of their American counterparts. But early Saturday morning in front of a packed audience that had even some of the actors from the films scrambling to find a seat, the directors of this year’s five nominees talked about what the Oscars can do to gather the momentum to put enough bottoms on seats to gaze at their subtitled works. The first ever foreign language film nomination for Peru, “The Milk of Sorrow,” is still looking for a U.S. distributor, but director Claudia Llosa said the nomination was helping to inject film investment in that country.
Respect at Oscar they get. But American box office? Well, that’s always a slightly more difficult task. Even in regards to Oscar, all the filmmakers said they could not allow themselves to even possibly consider an Academy Award when they began to make their films. As Oscar frontrunner Michael Haneke of “The White Ribbon,” which has swept many of the awards in the past year, put it, “You don’t make films to win prizes, you make films to communicate.”
Everyone knows documentary filmmakers get the short end of the stick. They spend years scraping together budgets, going on rough shoots in poor countries or places that throw them into jail, and when it comes to Oscar time, they’re the ones that keep smiling as they compete for attention with other such serious topics such as who is wearing what label.
But can docs really change things? Watch these videos of the two favorites to win the best documentary feature Oscar, directors Louie Psihoyos of “The Cove” and Robert Kenner from “Food, Inc.” who talk about the long road to their official Academy Award reception for the best documentary shorts and features that was held Wednesday night. More than six months after both films had their U.S. release, Kenner continues to battle big U.S. companies over bad food practices, and Psihoyos knows some dolphins are still being captured in Japan for marine amusement parks and killed for food, not to mention both continually competing for box office from audiences who prefer lighter fare at the cinema.
Oscar shorts? Who watches them? Why make them? Does anyone care? Oscar does.
It may not have been the most jammed-packed, star-studded red carpet, but a week of official Oscars meet-and-greets and a taste of possible Hollywood glory kicked off Tuesday night with the first official Academy Award reception for the best short film nominees. It was not exactly Power Hollywood. But a crowd of ticket-paying short film lovers laughed and whooped as they crammed into the Academy’s headquarters to watch the five animation and five live-action nominated short films and rub elbows with their makers who flew in from around the world.
Nominees chatted at the reception before the screening about being at the Oscars for the first time. Danish director Joachim Back of “The New Tenants” talks about how his work as an advertising commercials director paved the way for his short and how he keeps changing his possible Oscar-winning speech.
Old-school Hollywood types would be aghast, but think of the boffo ratings if teen starlets Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus nabbed Oscar nominations next year.
The duo are part of the way there, having co-written songs that made the shortlist for Oscar consideration. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesday unveiled 63 original song contenders that will be winnowed down to a maximum of five nominees.
They aren’t exactly Laurel and Hardy, or Hope and Crosby, or Lewis and Martin (that’s singer Dean) or even Rowan and Martin (as in Laugh-in’s Dick Martin). So when Oscar organizers on Tuesday named Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as the co-hosts of the upcoming Academy Awards, it left more than a few Hollywood watchers scratching their heads. You can read the story here.
After all, their only two pull quotes from the press release issued by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ranged from Martin’s mildly funny “I am happy to co-host the Oscars with my enemy Alec Baldwin,” to a decidedly mixed statement from Baldwin, “I don’t play the banjo but I’m thrilled to be hosting the Oscars — it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.”
***Veteran showman Hugh Jackman pulled out all the stops in his first stint as Oscar host, gamely singing and dancing his way through the night’s five best picture nominees with rarely seen Broadway flair.
In the musical number that traditionally kicks off the awards ceremony, Jackman — deadpanning that the Academy had cut back on the glitz this year because of the recession — pranced between cut-outs illustrating the reverse-aging of Benjamin Button; sat at a bare-bones set of the fictional quiz show in “Slumdog Millionaire”; roped in an ostensibly bemused Anne Hathaway to recreate the “Frost/Nixon” interview; stood on a “soapbox” Milk-crate; and, finally, stood on the top ropes of a make-shift wrestling rink as paper Oscars unfurled on either side.
After months of watching movies, listening to punditry and seeing critics’ picks, the Oscar race has rounded the final corner and is in the home stretch. Nomination ballots are due at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this week, and the world’s top film awards will be given out on Sunday, Feb. 22, in Hollywood.
Most Oscar watchers favor ”Slumdog Millionaire” to take the best motion picture award and its director Danny Boyle to win the directing trophy. Danny gives it the thumbs up. After all, ”Slumdog” has scooped up nearly every other award in sight this Oscar season, and it is clearly a crowd pleaser with an overall U.S. box office slowly inching upward to the $100 milion mark.