On this last episode of The B-Movies Podcast (happily settling into early middle-age with 41 episodes), William Bibbiani and I talked about some of the, shall we say, antisocial behavior on the part of Brett Ratner. Evidently this mainstream Hollywood crackerjack, who had recently been hired to produce the Academy Awards telecast, made the grave mistake of running his mouth at the worst possible moments, making some flip and somewhat offensive remarks. (In addition to his gossip about one of his old sexual conquests, he used a word that I can’t type in the pages of CraveOnline without using asterisks.) This led to his hasty retreat from the Oscars, and a swift pickup by the predictable and well-known Hollywood producer Brian Grazer.
Grazer, I’m sure, will do a perfectly suitable job of producing the show. He may not try any of the stunts or tricks to get the ever-coveted Youth Viewer (Anne Hathaway and James Franco as hosts?), which means that the show may kind of revert to a show that we’ve seen before. I’m okay with this. I’ve always paid close attention to the Oscar telecasts, so I’ll absorb every last minute of it no matter how bad, crass, or unprofessional it is. If it’s the kind of show that’s more reminiscent of the drunken glory days of the 1970s, I’m in.
The biggest sign that the Oscars may revert is the rehiring of Billy Crystal as the host. Crystal was always the easiest and most gregarious host I had the pleasure of watching, and he has the track record to back himself up. I know he got a little tired of doing it every year, but I was sad to see him go. Ever since Crystal has left, it seems that the Academy has been floundering to find someone new who can do it as well as him. They haven’t, preferring to go with a rotating door of hosts with dubious results. Steve Martin was fun, I guess. I liked David Letterman more than most people. I, just like you, have plenty of good ideas as to whom should host the ceremony, but the Academy won’t listen to the likes of me. I will just sit satisfied knowing that my favorite Oscar host will be back with all his old jokes, habits and foibles.
One of my favorite Billy Crystal shticks was his Oscar medley; every year, Crystal would sing brief songs about each of the five nominees, often set to the tunes of old lounge standards. To this day, I remember the lyrics about Titanic, sung to the Gilligan’s Island theme. I do love when the hosts edit themselves into the nominees, of course, but the song I miss.
In homage to the songs of yore, and a way of showing off my songwriting talent (such as it is), I have written the following medley about the films that will likely be nominated for Best Picture this year. Special thanks to my wife, Angie, for thinking up this idea.
[Billy Crystal has just finished making a series of witty bon-mots about the actors in the room, and the sorry state of Hollywood, all with a twinkle in his eye]
It’s a wonderful night for Oscar!
Oscar! Oscar! Who will win?
[To the tune of “Goldfinger”]
J. Edgar! He’s the man, the man from the FBI.
He has nice thighs.
J. Edgar! Best beware. Or he’ll have you put away.
He might be gay.
He can persecute commies and go
after citizens with his COINTELPRO!
Armie Hammer really should kiss him.
That's the most covert mission of
[To the tune of “Because I Got High” by Afroman]
I was gonna see a thing,
So then I saw Drive.
I was gonna see Ryan Gosling,
So then I saw Drive.
Now I'm confused as hell, and I know why…
Because I saw Drive, because I saw Drive, because I saw Drive.
(ladidat dat dat dat)
I hated that '80s song hook
that I heard in Drive.
But I really liked Albert Brooks
that I saw in Drive.
Now I want a scorpion jacket, and I know why.
Because I saw Drive. Because I saw Drive. Because I saw Drive.
[To the tune of “L-O-V-E”]
C is for the crazy wit I hear.
O is for the crassest film this year.
D is Cody's dogeared Webster's Dictionary
Y is is hipster speak that makes me feel old and weak.
Oh, Young Adult is very mean and nice.
Theron is amoral and pays the price.
Full of hate and playful shamin'
Wilson sleeps with her, but who could blame 'im?
[To the tune of “Help!” by The Beatles]
When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I was neglected by my mom in oh so many ways.
But now my negro maid has prove that mom's a schnook.
I'll blow the lid off in my scandal tell-all book.
The Helpwill help now if you can get your glories
Provided they will tell you their poop stories.
The Helpis jam-packed with allegories.
Won't you please, please Help me.
[To the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”]
Take me backstage at the ballgame.
Show me numbers and stats.
Reduce an ancient game to some math.
Perhaps the screenplays' too clever by half,
So it's root, root root for ball film,
Without the spitting or fame.
So it's one, two, three acts for a film
that has no ball game.
[To the tune of the “Mr. Ed” theme song]
A horse is a horse, of course, of course
And in this three-hour hist'ry course
you'll love the course of this War Horse
Thanks to Mr. Steve.
So go to the source and use the force
And hear the ring of Steve's endorse
'Cause you'll think this horse can think, of course.
I'll stop right now, because I'm horse.
Thanks to Mr. Steve.
[To the tune of “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd]
If I see a film tomorrow,
will you explain it to me please.
'Cause I really just don't get it.
Or what it has to do with trees.
But if I stayed here with Malick,
Maybe it'd be clear as a bell.
And he would show me the tree, now.
And I'd still be confused as Hell.
Oh, oh, oh, oh.
And I'd be confused as Hell.
And why are dinosaurs in there?
Lord knows it's awful deep.
[To the tune of “Lady” by Styx]
Lady, when you're with me I'm scowling
Give me all your bile.
Your thighs seem to be made of iron
Stomp me, and all of the royals.
Meryl, from the moment you played Mag,
your accent was impeccable
You gave all the talent you had.
Not shy to sell this film to us.
[To the tune of “You're the Top” by Cole Porter]
You're the man,
who did Midnight in Paris.
We all saw
How the art world perished.
You're the man who made Own Wilson seem so so fine.
He talked, by golly
to Bunuel and Dali
And Gertrude Stein.
This is fun
For all English majors.
This old world.
With no phones and pagers.
I'm just a schmuck, who messes up, Porter's stuff.
But if, Woody, you might be lucky, and pull it off.
[To the tune of “New York, New York”]
These little planet blues
Are going to stay.
Von Trier will make a turgid point of it.
With his sad film.
If he can make it here, he'll
stay away from here.
He's wrenched our guts with
NEXT: Bibbs offers up some lyrics of his own, wonders whether the Oscars actually care about young viewers (probably not) and explains how he'd handle red carpet coverage…
FROM THE DESK OF WILLIAM BIBBIANI:
I’m writing my half of B-Movies Extended this week on a plane. I don’t know much about air travel, but I imagine I must be literally hundreds of feet up in the air right now in this terrifying cylinder of horrors as it hurtles through the skyline en route from Orlando to Denver. Denver’s a nice town – I particularly enjoy their last dinosaurs – but unfortunately I’m headed back to Los Angeles, so I’ll be forced to tempt fate again pretty damned soon in yet another of these contraptions after a brief layover. I have a theory about air travel: we’re not supposed to do this. It’s impressive, sure, but if the good lord had meant us to fly he wouldn’t have bothered making all the damned birds.
I digress. Where were we? Oh yes, the Oscars. Yeah, it’s been a weird week for those. Like my cohort Witney Seibold I follow the Oscars fairly religiously. I’m tempted to try to get on the red carpet this year, but I think I’d just miss watching them too much. Also, I think I’d be a snarky a**hole.
“Who are you wearing?”
“OH MY GOD DID YOU SKIN HER YOURSELF?!”
So Brett Ratner crashed and burned, which a lot of us saw coming. Most of us thought he’d get to put on an actual show first, but I give Ratner credit for doing things the Max Power way: “the wrong way, but faster!”Yeah, he should have watched his damned mouth. It’s interesting that Ratner got to a position of significant clout despite only having a couple of hits to his name (all of them named Rush Hour Something-Or-Other), and without ever having to worry about his public image. The Oscars want young audiences, but that’s just for ratings. In reality they only want to pander to teenagers once or twice throughout the entire telecast, usually with somebody dressing up like a moron, then looking apologetic, and then swiftly giving out one of the technical awards, and then leaving. Otherwise the Oscars want to be viewed as the last vestige of genuine Hollywood glamour: a safe haven for the best gowns, the best musical numbers, and yes, the best movies. Well, maybe not the best movies, but at least the ones that everyone’s proud to show to their mother.
Ratner, it must be admitted, was a daring choice. Somewhere down the line I’m sure he’ll describe what he had planned, and I’ll be all ears. If he’s smart – or at least listens to his publicist – he’ll wait until after the ceremony to speak out. Out of class, sure, but also to gauge whether or not Brian Grazer does a better job than he would have. Honestly, Grazer might not. Grazer’s a great producer of film and television, and was probably wise in his decision lock in a host within 48 hours of losing Eddie Murphy, so at the very least it looks like he’s on top of things. But Billy Crystal? Everyone likes Billy Crystal, but his presence makes one thing clear: they’re playing it safe again.
I’m not sure the Oscars can get much safer. This is the same awards ceremony that left Chris Rock out to dry for implying that mainstream audiences enjoy mainstream entertainment more than the Best Picture contenders. Shocking, I know. Not that White Chicks needed to be nominated for…well, anything…but that ill-fated segment pointed out the rather obvious schism that Hollywood would rather ignore for one night out of the year. And heaven forefend that he makes a joke about Jude Law’s inability to open a movie. Sean Penn gave Chris Rock crap about that. Next to Ricky Gervais’s lambasting at the Golden Globes last year, Rock might as well have been Buddy Hackett for his relative tameness.
I did like Steve Martin’s run though. I still chuckle when I remember him saying, “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t wear my swan”in response to Bjork’s now infamous…gown…swan…thing. He was dry but witty and kept things moving without much fuss, which is rather important for a telecast with a history of going, like, ridiculously long.
And Crystal? Yeah, I like him too. Everyone likes Billy Crystal, even after My Giant for some reason. I’d like to see a pre-show segment where Crystal learns that Hollywood has been conspiring for decades to “keep him in his place.”You do the Oscars, Billy. Put that script for Forget Paris 2 down.
And yes, he’ll do his musical number again. I remember feeling a strange mixture of glee and annoyance when he sang about Seabiscuit to the tune of Goldfinger ten years ago, since I’d been singing the same thing myself for months. I’m not as motivated as Witney is to come up with my own lyrics for his opening number (hence all the extra padding), but I have a couple of ideas. They probably stink.
[To the tune of “F**k You”by Cee-Lo Green]
I see you walking ‘round town with the show I love, and I’m like,
You couldn’t keep your mouth shut about Olivia Munn and I’m like,
Brett Ratner, and your shrimp too!
I said, if I had made Tower Heist
I’d probably have been nice.
Ain’t that some shrimp?
And now here’s our impression
Of your rehearsal session.
We’re like, Brett Ra…[WHOLE CHORUS LINE STUMBLES]
[To the tune of “Halo”by Beyonce, but upbeat]
Remember those Pixar wins?
Baby, they’re tumbling down.
They didn’t even put up a fight.
Cars 2let them down.
You found a way to maybe win,
Did you ever really have a doubt?
You got Johnny Depp to play Rango-O-o,
Mocapped his ass and how!
It’s like it’s a brand new start,
Have you tried Kim Novak’s pop tarts?
Did Mickey Rooney even see it?
Or is it too state of the art?
Did Mickey see your Rango, Rango, Rango?
Did Mickey see your Rango, Rango, Rango?
[To the tune of “Psycho Killer”by The Talking Heads]
Can’t seem to face up to facts.
Made two more movies before we got the axe.
Can’t quit, franchise on fire.
Even though Radcliffe’s getting pretty tired.
Oh, J.K. Rowling…Write some more!
Ha-Ha-Harry Potter! Ha-Ha-Harry Potter, yeah!
British actors need the mon-mon-mon-ayyy!!!