Forget the studio politics and pretensions of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. What did lowly moviegoers really like last year?
Try "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," "Silence of the Lambs," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," "City Slickers," "The Naked Gun 2 1/2 " and "The Addams Family."
Those are the contenders for favorite motion picture in the People's Choice Awards. The 18th annual edition can be seen at 9 o'clock tonight on WBAL (Channel 11), two weeks in advance of the Academy Awards ceremony. Country crooner Kenny Rogers is the host -- and one of the three nominees for Favorite Male Country Music Performer.
Notice anything about the aforementioned films? Among the six up for awards in the People's Choice movie categories, only "Silence of the Lambs" is also an Academy Award nominee.
Ignored by the People's Choice are Oscar hopefuls "JFK," "Bugsy," "Prince of Tides" and "Beauty and the Beast."
A Gallup Organization poll of entertainment consumers determines the top three favorites in a variety of performance areas, including movies, television and music. And the top vote-getter in each of 22 categories is revealed during the live, black-tie broadcast.
People's Choice picks often diverge sharply from Oscar selections, such as in 1986 when the People's Choice chose "Back to the Future" while the Academy voted "Out of Africa" best picture. Then again, sometimes they agree, such as in 1989 with "Rainman."
But this year's apparent populist disdain for Academy Award performers can be found in the favorite actress and actor categories, too. Only Robin Williams ("The Fisher King"), Jodie Foster ("Silence of the Lambs") and Bette Midler ("For the Boys") cross over.
Further, only two performers in the People's Choice comedy or drama acting categories are in films up for favorite movie: Ms. Foster and Billy Crystal from "City Slickers" (ironically, the host again of this year's Oscar broadcast on ABC March 30).
In tonight's show, favorite actor nominees include Mr. Crystal, Steve Martin and Mr. Williams (comedy); and Kevin Costner, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Patrick Swayze (drama). Favorite actresses include Whoopi Goldberg, Ms. Midler and Julia Roberts (comedy); and Ms. Foster, Demi Moore and Ms. Roberts (drama).
What about television? The People's Choice Awards seem to prove we like the old and familiar.
Favorite series nominees include: "Cheers," "Roseanne" and "The Cosby Show." Favorite male TV actors: Bill Cosby, Ted Danson and Burt Reynolds. Favorite TV actresses: Kirstie Alley, Roseanne Arnold and Candice Bergen.
Tonight's show also offers a special tribute to producer Aaron Spelling, whose TV hits include the current "Beverly Hills, 90210" on Fox and, going back a few years, "Dynasty," "The Love Boat," "Family," "T.J. Hooker," "Fantasy Island" and "The Mod Squad."
Mr. Spelling produces for the big screen, too. Among his film hits: "Soapdish," "Loose Cannons," " 'Night Mother" and "Mr. Mom."