Sunday, February 25, 2007

Minute-by-minute at the 2007 Oscars Pre-Show

2006 Oscars Pre-Show.

2006 Oscars Ceremony.

My 2007 Oscar picks.

3:00 -- Richard Roeper takes Roger Ebert's place on the red carpet this year, for the local ABC channel's pre-pre-show. Joining him is Ebert's usual partner, the crass and awful George Pennacchio. He's the one who couldn't stop asking attendees personal questions about their salaries last year. I expect more of that crap this time out. What an ass. I open my first beer, and away we go!

3:02 -- Technical difficulties with the sound mar the initial appearance from fashion reporters Michelle Tuzee and Randolph Duke. I can't say I'm saddened by this.

3:03 -- Sharon Stone, in a puff piece about Randolph Duke: "I know how to stand, because of this man." So many, many jokes.

3:04 -- Marc Brown looks lonely without Richard Roeper, his usual partner in exile away from the celebrities, up in the balcony. "Nuke" Roeper got called up to the majors, while Brown continues to languish with the Durham Bulls.

3:08 -- Michael Sheen, Tony Blair in The Queen, speaks to Roeper. He's damn fine in the film, but frankly he makes for a boring interview. At least, in the context of the Oscars, where you want a little more spectacle than a mostly unknown Brit.

3:13 -- Keith Robinson from Dreamgirls talks to Roeper. Wait, who? Pennacchio perpetuates the "billion people watching" myth. You realize that's a load of crap, right? There's not a billion damn people watching. Think about it: there are 300 million people in America. Maybe, maybe 20 or 25 million will watch. So they can't even get more than 6-8% max of this country to watch. Do you think over 16% of the entire rest of the world is going to watch? Not bloody likely.

3:18 -- Wow, Jennifer Hudson is bustin' some cavernous cleavage. Now that's what you want to see at the Oscars!

3:22 -- First oddball red carpet sighting: Larry David is there? Why??

3:24 -- Roeper introduces Al Gore as "the biggest rock star of all." He later says, "The Al Gore that we see in the movie, some people have said, 'I wish we had seen a little bit more of that character and humor and personality when you ran.'" Kudos to Roeper for having the balls to speak that bit of truth right to Gore's face.

3:26 -- Pennacchio asks Tipper Gore if she agrees with Melissa Etheridge that watching Al's Inconvenient Truth can be life-changing. Way to ask the tough questions, Pennacchio!

3:30 -- Did you see Pennacchio as guest critic on Ebert & Roeper this week? If not, in case you were wondering: yes, he is as awful a critic as he is an interviewer.

3:31 -- Pennacchio asks Roeper his pick for Best Picture. Roeper: "I'm predicting Babel. I thought it was going to be Nacho Libre, but it didn't make the cut."

3:31 -- Brown keeps talking about celebs that he's seen from the balcony, but of course hasn't been able to interact with, then introducing pre-taped segments on crap like the fans in the bleacher seats lining the carpet. I feel bad for him.

3:35 -- Roeper and Pennacchio talk to Catherine Deneuve. What with her shaky English, and Pennacchio's dopey fashion questions, it's very awkward.

3:36 -- A very scary Sally Kirkland stumbles up and kisses Pennacchio's microphone, then attempts to explain her bizarre outfit: "Okay, the rabbi and the reverend! The rabbi, stopping the rabbi to design this, it's kabbalah, it's Isadora Duncan, um, I'm the reverend, he's the rabbi...." And so forth. She's coocoo for Cocoa Puffs. Roeper, deadpan to the camera as Kirkland twirls like a dervish behind him: "That's the exact same speech we got from Al Gore when he was here just a few minutes ago."

3:37 -- Kirkland ends her diatribe by saying she was "George's former lover." While Pennacchio stammers, Roeper again delivers a zinger: "Well, that makes two of us. That's really not that unique, either." My estimation of Roeper is skyrocketing.

3:40 -- Duke: Jennifer Lopez looks "delicious." Tuzee, oddly: "I love that word, delicious."

3:42 -- Pennacchio to Lopez: "You don't have to come to this, but you really do support your industry, and I think that's always grand, that you make a point of being here when you're invited." Subtext: "You're never going to be here because you're nominated for anything."

3:45 -- In talking to Rachel Weisz, Roeper mentions her upcoming movie Fred Claus "with my buddy, Vince Vaughn." Wha?

3:47 -- Jennifer Hudson talks to Roeper, and she's wearing a different, more conservative dress than the one they showed her in earlier. Was that a clip from another awards show? I feel cheated. Anika Noni Rose, who is with her, is sporting an extremely low-cut bodice, so good for her for picking up the slack. (For those keeping score at home: I've just opened my second beer.)

3:52 -- Jessica Biel talks to Pennacchio and Roeper. Pennacchio throws out the "billion" number again. It's not true, dammit! (That article, by the way, suggests more like 40-45 million people watch in the U.S., as opposed to the 20-25 million I named earlier. Whoops. Well, it still ain't a billion!)

3:54 -- Will Smith, wife Jada Pinkett Smith, and son Jaden speak to Roeper and Pennacchio. Will offers some good advice: "[The Oscars] can't be important. It has to be fun.... You just can't allow it to be a neccessity for you to validate your worth. It's almost a cancerous idea, if you allow yourself to need it." It's pretty awesome to see someone on the superstar level like him who's got such a level head, and seems to make an effort to keep his kid grounded.

4:00 -- It's the difficult name portion of the show, with Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón talking to Roeper. Man, getting those accents correct in HTML is hard. That's the last time I do that tonight.

4:03 -- While Roeper and Pennacchio wait for Jackie Earle Haley, you can hear the bleachers crowd in the background going "WOOOOOOOO!" at regular intervals. It's like being in a roller coaster car.

4:04 -- Pennacchio kicks Haley to the curb when Helen Mirren appears behind him: "We'll say goodbye to you, and we say hello to Helen Mirren!" That's a shame. I haven't seen Little Children, but I just like the story of Haley's comeback from a non-voluntary (as in, no one would hire him) thirteen-year acting hiatus.

4:05 -- Mirren shouldn't share any of the blame for Pennacchio's assness. She's fantastic. And she looks lovely.

4:12 -- Pennacchio: "Richard, who you wearing?" Roeper: "This is Vinnie, from the South side of Chicago. He told me I could erase the debt if I wore this and mentioned it by name." Why is Richard Roeper the funniest guy on the red carpet? Where the hell is Will Ferrell?

4:13 -- Duke wins me over a little by critiquing Sally Kirkland. "She's definitely my Best Dressed. You know, I just think this is the way women should look on the red carpet. Not." I forgive the 15-year-old not "witticism" because of his follow-up line: "This is literally crazy.... Clearly, she's lost her mind."

4:16 -- I watched The Devil Wears Prada last night, and I mostly liked it, but after Ugly Betty, its novelty is hugely diminished. For example, all the praise for Emily Blunt, who plays the bitchy Emily in the film, leaves me cold. I felt like I'd seen it all before. And I had. But here she is on the red carpet, and she looks hot. So: well played, I guess.

4:18 -- Celine Dion talks to Pennacchio and Roeper. She's performing for the Ennio Morricone salute tonight? Weird. I wonder if she'll do the whistle from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

4:19 -- Dion throws out the same line as Jessica Biel did earlier, that she's wearing a long dress to hide her shaking knees. Next time I have stage fright, I'm going to wear a long dress, too. Although that may open up a whole slew of new problems.

4:19 -- Sacha Baron Cohen appears on the red carpet. He apparently couldn't be bothered to shave.

4:21 -- Roeper and Pennacchio kill some time with Forrest Whitaker's wife while he finishes up another interview. She seems nice. Meanwhile, I open another beer. Oh, things are going to get mean tonight if I keep this pace up.

4:25 -- Kirsten Dunst and brother Christian talk to Pennacchio and Roeper. I like her less when it's over.

4:30 -- Ahhh, Cate Blanchett. Love her. She reports she's in the middle of making a movie with Brad Pitt and David Fincher in New Orleans, and that is some damn good news.

4:31 -- Beyonce. She bugs me. It's unsettling to see someone so young who's already so phony.

4:33 -- Clint Eastwood pauses at another interviewer before getting to Pennacchio and Roeper. Pennacchio creepily leans way over with his microphone as though he's going to poach the interview. Roeper looks appropriately embarrassed.

4:35 -- Eastwood walks away from Pennacchio in mid-interview, while his wife lingers behind to explicate him. She fails.

4:39 -- Eddie Murphy makes a very uncomfortable appearance. Pennacchio notes that he just saw Murphy hugging Mickey Rooney. Murphy: "Yeah, that was surreal." Pennacchio asks what's next for Murphy. Murphy: "I got a script for Pluto Nash 2."

4:44 -- Ryan Gosling. He's wearing a pin for Amnesty International, which will be auctioned off after the Oscars to benefit the rehabilitation of child soldiers -- his pin will specifically benefit a Ugandan girl who has burns covering 80% of her body. Admirable, noble cause and all, but damn, Captain Bringdown, way to harsh my buzz.

4:46 -- Peter O'Toole ignores Pennacchio's pleas to come over for an interview; shortly thereafter, so do Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. HA! AWESOME.

4:49 -- Adriana Barraza speaks to Roeper and Pennacchio. She barely speaks English. Time to fast forward.

4:51 -- Reese Witherspoon continues looking sexy as hell, post-breakup with Ryan Phillippe. Good for her. Hell, good for all of us.

4:52 -- Is Meryl Steep really a "big, huge, mega-star," as Tuzee describes her? She's unquestionably one of the best actresses ever, but "mega-star"? That's an odd descriptor.

4:53 -- Martin Scorsese endures Pennacchio's questions about his daughter's pet bird, which is named "Leo" after DiCaprio. It's kind of creepy Pennacchio knows that.

4:54 -- Tuzee refers to a "strip tease" that Abigail Breslin does at the end of Little Miss Sunshine. I haven't seen that movie. Is that accurate? That is creeeepy.

4:55 -- Pennacchio asks Roeper if Roger Ebert had given him any tips. "He warned me about you, and everything he said was actually true, George."

4:56 -- Pennacchio and Roeper sign off. Already? They keep referring to people trying to get inside before the show begins. I thought the show started at 5:30. Are they just talking about the official pre-show at 5:00? I'm confused.

5:00 -- Road to the Oscars 2007. I guess this is what they were getting ready for. It opens with a bit from the penguins from Happy Feet. One of the penguins refers to the "million people" watching. You're correct not to say "billion," but now you're going too far in the other direction!

5:02 -- It's Chris Connelly! It's odd that this actually feels like a step up from what we've just gone through. Connelly opens with Leo DiCaprio. Good get. DiCaprio says some great things about Scorsese, which he damn well better.

5:03 -- Lisa Ling talks to Nicole Kidman (burn, Pennacchio!) and Naomi Watts. Ling asks the two friends what a typical night out for them entails. "Barbecues," says Kidman. "Lots of barbecues," adds Watts. My kind of gals!

5:05 -- Andre Leon Talley is covering fashion. So I hope this will be the last time I mention him.

5:06 -- Connelly talks to Steve Carell, which feels like a breath of fresh air. "Greg Kinnear has intense body odor," Carell shares. That's about as funny as he gets, but at least, finally, somebody other than Richard Roeper is trying to be funny.

5:12 -- I used to think Penelope Cruz was hot. Now, her weird face alarms and disturbs me. I wonder when that happened. Probably when she stopped getting naked in movies.

5:14 -- I've wondered before when I started hating Cameron Diaz. I'm still not sure, but man, do I ever hate her. Her quirky humor, which used to charm me, now seems so deliberate and calculated, and that frighteningly dark tan doesn't help much, either.

5:15 -- As Ling talks to Eddie Murphy, I realize I'm sufficiently far behind enough that the actual awards are about to begin. I'd better try to get caught up! Murphy makes another Pluto Nash joke.

5:18 -- Ryan Gosling is with his sister, Mandy, and his mother, Donna. I don't think Pennacchio and Roeper even attempted explaining why he had a woman on each arm. Thank you, Connelly.

5:22 -- Connelly talks to Mark Wahlberg. Connelly says, "First time in a Scorsese film, you get a nomination right off the bat." Wahlberg makes the obvious observation: "Why wasn't I in a Scorsese movie earlier?"

5:24 -- Ling has moved indoors, and she's talking to Kate Winslet. Winslet: 31 years old, and the youngest actress to receive five Oscar nominations. Wow, impressive. And she still has yet to win -- and won't win this year, let's face it. Seems like the consensus is, she'll get hers eventually. But at this rate, she could pass Peter O'Toole's 8 noms with no wins by the time she's my age (which is 36, you nosey bastards). Ling then asks Winslet about her nude scenes in Little Children, which is crass, but I still thank her for it.

5:28 -- And it's over. Time for the real travesty!

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