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Oscars: A (sort of) live blog
9:07... We have a verdict in already on Seth MacFarlane - and the verdict is not favorable. But unfavorable in a way I never fully expected! I knew he'd be tacky (the Boobs Song), and inside-the-business topical (a nod to Affleck's director diss) and even referential to the Golden Globes, of all awards ("the quest is to make Tommy Lee Jones laugh...") But to turn this into a retro - really retro - '60s ersatz "Star Trek" Oh Look How Silly James T. Kirk looks NOW! joke? In the lead-up to this, MacFarlane promised to turn this chalky, dusty, calcified, sclerotic awards show into something both current but also an embrace of what had come before - an inversion, or balancing act, by a TV guy who has made a lucrative career from mostly potty-mouth animated series (and now, the same with a movie, "Ted.") But the "Star Trek" gambit - while clearly a sly homage to one of the biggest movies of the year to come, "Star Trek Into Darkness" - felt just as moldy and weary as what he had promised to banish. Then, just to demonstrate how reverential he is for the past, there were performances of standards from Jimmy Van Heusen or whomever else he's worshiped at the alter of. This pretzel act would have been funny or memorable if it had been funny or memorable, but it was not - just tiresome, and discordant, and foolish. (But still memorable.) What's worse is you - OK, I - expected better from MacFarlane. That's the open. Three hours to go. Let's see where it goes from here...
9:22... Finally, the 50 Years of Bond arrives. And what do we get? Dame Shirley Bassey turns up to sing "Goldfinger" and kills it, but the clip job was an embarrassment. Fifty years of Bond and we get a YouTube compilation? Huge disappointment only because in my admittedly depleted imagination I expected Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, of all people, to love with all their Broadway might the grand and glorious spectacle of Bond. Instead ... blah.
9:40... The man "Who really got inside Lincoln's head was John Wilkes Booth." And there, in one line, MacFarlane ended any chance of returning to the Oscars, even as a guest, or as a waiter, or someone who rolls out the red carpet, or a parking attendant...
9:54... In a way, this is kind of the best part of the night so far. Why? Beats me! Why a tribute to "All That Jazz," Bob Fosse's glorious tribute to himself, or "Dreamgirls," as channeled by J-Hud? Then Hugh Jackman, "Les Miz..." Because this is clearly what Craig Zadan and Neil Meron do best - Broadway spectacle! Or at least what they care about most. This was - on second thought - the best part of a tepid night (so far.) And miles to go before we sleep.
10:10... Universal, I read somewhere, actually paid to get that appearance of Ted - voiced by MacFarlane. (But why?) Fact is, this fell flat, too - mostly because I would bet not ten people in that audience saw "Ted," knew what the gag was, or who voiced the bear (MacFarlane.) Ted was somewhat in character: Where's the orgy? Mark Wahlberg (John, in the movie): At Nicholson's house... Some jokes about being Jewish in Hollywood, which are supposed to be envelope pushing, but were not (hey, it's a bear)... Although could certainly be construed as anti-Semitic. (Mac scores again!) And all this for a sound-mixing award. Hey, the biggest drama? It was a tie!
10:35... Adele. Certainly the Golden Girl tonight, in this sumptuous production number, anticipating what is expected to be her win/coronation for Best Original Song. (And won't the Twittersphere be shocked if Seth MacFarlane wins for "Ted?!" That's right - he's up for a best song award, too.)
11:02...The Way We Were. Well, that was worth waiting up for. Barbra Streisand hasn't been here, or sung at these, in more than thirty years, or before I was born. (A little joke, with your forbearance.) Barbra Streisand is Barbra Streisand, and that is that, and Marvin Hamlisch was Marvin Hamlisch. A winning combination, in life and death...
11:36... By this point, everyone's had it on the East Coast; in LA, it's still only 8:30! But Ang Lee and Quentin Tarantino made it go down just a little bit easier. Both were pretty funny and fluent. Ang Lee thanking his lawyer and agent - "I have to do that" - and Tarantino peacing out... Daniel Day-Lewis: "I don't know how any of this happened..." And funny thing, he says to presenter Meryl Streep, three years ago, "I was committed to playing Margaret Thatcher..."
12:11... ABC announces that the full telecast will be available Monday morning on Hulu, Hulu Plus and ABC on Demand. (Ummm, no thanks. Once is enough.)