Entertainment Corner: Inside the Oscars
by Joseph Gushue
The time is finally here! One of my most favorite TV watching nights is right around the corner. The Oscars! Each year, I make it a point to see as many of the movies nominated for Best Picture as possible before the ceremony. I do this in a feeble attempt to win my Oscar pool (Note: I have yet to win any Oscar pool). But instead of offering up my inevitably doomed Oscar predictions for you, I've come up with some fun trivia and Oscar factoids to impress everyone at your viewing party while you pass the time with the pre-pre-pre-preshow humming in the background.
Why "Oscar"? The official name for the gold statue given out at the awards is the "Academy Award of Merit," but we all call it the "Oscar" without much thought. Several different stories have been proffered to explain the origins of this famous moniker, the most popular being that back in the 1930s, a librarian at the Academy commented that the statuette looked like her Uncle Oscar. And ever since 1939, the statue's official name has been "Oscar." (I, too, expected this story to be more interesting).
Who's in "The Academy"? In short, it's a good ol' boys-and-girls club, massaging egos with self-indulgent, self-congratulatory awards since 1927. Think the BCS, only with much less transparency. Membership in the Academy is by invitation of the Board of Governors only, and is limited to those who have achieved "distinction in the arts and sciences of motion pictures" (official Academy lingo). A candidate must be sponsored by at least two members of the branch for which the person may qualify (there are 15 branches that correspond to the various film disciplines such as actors, directors, producers, etc). Each proposed member must first receive the endorsement of the branch's executive committee before his/her name is submitted to the Board, who must also approve the selection. And who holds the keys to this secret society? That would be Executive Director Bruce Davis (who will be retiring this year after more than 20 years at the helm).
Do this year's awards have any EGOT potential? Fans of the TV show "30 Rock" may be familiar with character Tracy Jordan's quest for the grand slam of show business, otherwise known as the "EGOT" (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards). In real life, there are currently only 10 individuals who have achieved this rare feat: actors Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, Audrey Hepburn, John Geilgud and Whoopi Goldberg; composers Richard Rogers, Marvin Hamlisch and Jonathan Tunick; and directors Mel Brooks and Mike Nichols (my apologies to Barbara Streisand and Liza Minelli, but "honorary" awards don't count).
Out of this year's Oscar nominees, Geoffrey Rush is the closest to the EGOT, having already won an Emmy (for "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers"), an Oscar (for "Shine"), and a Tony (for "Exit the King"). Also a "G" shy of the EGOT is producer/director Scott Rudin, nominated this year for his roles in "The Social Network" and "True Grit" (perhaps they could team up for a song?). In an ironic twist, 2011 could have been an EGOT year had Cynthia Nixon reprised her Tony-award winning role for the film version of the play Rabbit Hole. Instead, that role went to Nicole Kidman, who is nominated for it, and Nixon will remain an "O" shy, having won an Emmy for "Sex and the City," a Grammy for a spoken-word project, and a Tony for "Rabbit Hole."
Some other fun Oscar facts:
- Jeff Bridges could join Spencer Tracy and Tom Hanks as the only winners of Lead Actor Oscars in successive years. Bridges won last year for "Crazy Heart" and is nominated this year for "True Grit" (what, no love for "Tron"?).
- Natalie Portman - who recently announced she is pregnant with her first child with her "Black Swan" choreographer fiancée Benjamin Millepied - will become the tenth nominee to "dress for two" at the Oscars. Of the nine prior expectant nominees, four took home Uncle Oscar.
- According to PwC, the official results auditors, it takes 1,700 hours to count and verify the awards ballots each year for the 24-25 awards categories – a cakewalk to most law firm associates.
Joseph P. Gushue is an associate at Volpe and Koenig P.C. and can be reached at email@example.com.