The first Hollywood Awards show of the season falls flat

Liz Smith

"NEVER TOUCH your idols: the gilding will stick to your fingers!" Gustave Flaubert.

LAST FRIDAY night! I had the incredible experience of watching the first televised Hollywood Film Awards. OK, there's "tacky" and then there is "hopeless." The HFA was on the latter side.

Miserably photographed, awkwardly staged. The winners were already known, so there was no suspense. (My goodness, even the oft-criticized Golden Globes gives you that!)

The show generated a lot of star power, but somehow, even the biggest stars seemed diminished by this event. (Camera shots of celebrities in the audience captured a lot of boredom, even though liquor was being served.)

Most comments on this debacle concern Robert Duvall's bizarre acceptance speech and Johnny Depp's appearance -- "He's drunk!" I think Duvall was just trying to be funny. It was a big fail. As for Depp, I ask you, when hasn't he appeared in the last 15 years looking as if he needed a shower and an intervention? This is most likely what he thinks his fans appreciate. Well, after eight Tim Burton movies, and his fame as Captain Jack Sparrow in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, what are we to expect?

Like the Globes, the HFA is supposed to be a party, with everybody quaffing goblets of alcohol. Maybe everybody did, but the atmosphere remained dreary.

The promise of Angelina Jolie turned out scary in its reality. Dressed in bone-baring black, she looked healthier as the evil queen in "Maleficent." All I could think of while watching the great star was -- "PLEASE, have a double Whopper with cheese. Every day for every meal." What is this thinness routine when half of the world is starving? Also, actress Kristen Stewart had some sort of wardrobe malfunction onstage. This was less significant than the fact of the usually dour Kristen smiling publicly!

The best moments were reserved for actor Eddie Redmayne, who received an award for his performance as physicist Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything." I have yet to see this movie, but his reviews have been epic. I was especially pleased because I'd noticed Eddie a few years ago in costume dramas such as "The Pillars of the Earth," "Les Miserables" and "Tess of the D' Urbervilles." (He also had small roles in "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "Elizabeth: The Golden Age.") He has a particular look that seemed perfect for these sorts of things, but I wondered if he could expand?

Well, he has, in the most extraordinary manner, taking on the genius Hawking. His speech was genuine and touching.

As for the awards show itself, perhaps next year it will appear smoother.

RECENTLY I met the fabled actor Bruce Willis and his almost new wife Emma down at Cipriani in Wall Street. (They wed in 2009!) We were all promoting a relatively new burgeoning charity named "Find Me!" It's great when big names put needy charities on the map.

This, you'll hear more about. It has been sorely neglected and it was created by a former police officer acting on his own, to carry on the work of following up reports of missing persons. (Law enforcement officers cannot keep hunting for the missing, if they have no reason to know a crime has been committed and thousands of Americans go missing every day and their loved ones have no idea and no "closure" in this regard.)

But more about "Find Me!" later. What I'm talking about is seeing Bruce again, after at least five years -- and meeting Emma, who has given the star two little girls. (He has three other daughters with his ex-wife Demi Moore.)

Bruce and I spoke and sat together at the "Find Me!" charity kick-off and he was his usual understated and sexy self. I loved meeting the tall, beautiful Emma and learning what I didn't know -- that they now have a home on New York's West Side and have entered another phase of their life together. They also recently purchased 22 acres in upstate New York.

Well, if Bruce ever does another "Die Hard" movie, he won't have to travel far. Locations will be easy to find amongst Manhattan's skyscrapers, mammoth Central Park and other spots: Grand Central Terminal (a shootout at the Oyster Bar?), Lincoln Center, the Statue of Liberty. (In recent movies, Lady Liberty is usually swept away by tsunamis, buried in ice, or otherwise vandalized. I'd like to see Bruce Willis restore her dignity!)

As I leaned against Bruce at the podium when we made our "Find Me!" pitch, I told the audience: "One never gets too old for this!"

Everybody applauded. I don't think there's anybody who doesn't love Bruce Willis -- or who doesn't want to lean against him! And to think he's back in New York where he first started his life as a bartender, before his hit on TV, "Moonlighting."

CASTING NOTES: One of our readers has suggested the following for the coming cable series based on the book "Tinseltown."

Helena Bonham Carter -- Mabel Normand.

Jack Black -- Fatty Arbuckle.

Steve Buscemi -- Will Hays (the censor king)

RuPaul -- Henry Peavey (William Desmond Taylor's cook and valet.)

Paul Rudd -- Wallace Reid, the drug-addicted actor.

Elle Fanning -- Mary Miles Minter (the young, nutty star who was heavily implicated in Desmond Taylor's death.)

Susan Sarandon -- Mary's mother, Charlotte Shelby. (Almost as nutty as her daughter, but icily controlled.)

Lindsay Lohan -- Margaret Gibson, the struggling actress who would do anything to achieve fame.

Detective Ed King -- Bill Paxton. (He was obsessed with the case for years.)

As for the vital role of the murdered director William Desmond Taylor, our reader suggests David Strathairn.

I love my intelligent and imaginative readers! They do better than I can!

(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)

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