Again, Oscar show wins no awards


So, it was 11:27 on a Monday night. Did you know where your children were?

Well, if they had any sense, they weren't listening to the director of "Journey of Hope" thanking the Turkish crew that worked on this Swiss movie that won the Academy Award for best foreign film.

Hey, nothing against "Journey of Hope," probably a great film, but it's getting close to Ted Koppel time. We're talking late. If it was a Monday Night Football game, halftime would almost be over.

Maybe it's written somewhere that the Oscar telecast has to be longer than the film that wins best picture. But "Dances with Wolves" was only a little over three hours. Last night's telecast was THREE AND A HALF HOURS.

Give us a break!

You've stayed up past 11:15 just to hear Christian Slater introduce Bon Jovi -- excuse me, his good friend Jon Bon Jovi -- to perform yet another of the nominated songs.


The sad thing is that last night's Oscars didn't have to be so bad. They provided all the ingredients necessary for a good show.

There was a laudable movie that racked up Oscar after Oscar, helping to build some excitement and momentum. And Kevin Costner's parents and wife were there to share in his victory and add genuine emotion to the proceedings.

There were a few memorable acceptance speeches, most notably those of Whoopi Goldberg getting her best supporting actress award for "Ghost," and Michael Blake, best adapted screenplay winner for "Dances with Wolves," with his Sioux translator.

There were even some good performances of the nominated songs. Move over Madonna, Reba McEntire's in town!

Even the honorary Oscars had their moments, especially those of the tear-filled eyes of Sophia Loren.

And it had today's consummate host, Billy Crystal.

But it got off on the wrong foot with an ill-advised high-tech production number that started in Paris where Michael Caine couldn't even read the clock, and then came back to Hollywood for some of the worst choreography the talented Debbie Allen has ever done, dancing that basically ruined a bunch of nice movie clips showing on the screen behind the dancers.

From then on, the show failed to jell. After waiting 23 minutes -- through the production number and Crystal's in-joke laden routine -- to hand out its first Oscar, it never found a pace or a rhythm, a rhyme or reason.

There was supposed to be a historic theme, this being the 100th anniversary of Thomas Edison's patent on the motion picture, but it kind of appeared and disappeared by whim.

Award presenters seemed to wander in from all points of the compass at their leisure. Some were introduced by Crystal, some weren't. Who knew?

So the show did have some bad luck. Joe Pesci gets up there to accept best supporting actor for "GoodFellas" and says four words, while the sound nerds go on like a bad vaudeville act.

(Though that's no excuse for the bad manners of cuing the band and cutting off the thank yous, as was done several times last night. If the Academy doesn't want these boring people taking up their valuable screen time, then they shouldn't give them their awards on national TV.)

And then they go to all that trouble to wire special Oscar winner Myrna Loy's apartment in New York and she says nothing beyond, "Thank you. You've made me very happy." You can bet she didn't make whoever paid for the satellite time very happy.

It was getting close to 11 o'clock when Bob Hope showed up and did some of the worst material he's done, well, since the last time he performed.

That was followed by a montage of actors remembering the first film they saw, a nice enough piece, but it was getting late. Time to speed things up, not slow them down.

You did have to wait up past midnight to see the evening's best example of death by fashion as this year's award goes to Jeff Bridges' vest. And the Look-At-Us, Aren't-We-a-Beautiful-Hollywood-Couple award goes to Kim "Lips" Basinger and Alec "Stubble" Baldwin.

Finally -- after a tease of a commercial break as if ABC hadn't had enough time to run off all its ads -- Barbra Streisand comes out to give the best picture award and solemnly proclaims that since this is the 100th anniversary of the motion picture, it is fitting to give this award last.

Gee, don't they always give this award last? Bet they did it on the 99th anniversary, too. Probably even on the 86th anniversary. And bet they'll do it on the 113th, too.

No, maybe by then they'll be saving those best sound awards for last. Those guys always give such good speeches.

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