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An Open Letter to Oscar Producer, Brian Grazer

By Michael Murray | Miscellaneous | November 11, 2011 |

By Michael Murray | Miscellaneous | November 11, 2011 |

For as long as I can remember, the Oscars have been trying to become a more modern version of themselves. Although they want to maintain their traditional delusions of class and artistic high-mindedness, they also want to be hip, to speak to the young folk. In spite of its best intentions, the Academy Awards have always been a conservative, lumbering self-promoting dinosaur, one that regardless of your age, always seems like it’s being run by people older than your parents.

Last year we had the labouring spectacle of Anne Hathaway and James Franco, and this year, as if to over compensate for those dry twigs, they hired Brett Ratner to produce and Eddie Murphy to be his lightning-in-a-bottle host. I have to say, whenever I imagine what a classic Hollywood dickhead might be like, I always think of somebody like Ratner. Middle-aged, but always trying to look younger and hipper than he ever actually was (kind of like the Oscar ceremonies, themselves), he’d make action films, brag about the starlets he humiliated in bed, and mistake expressions of vulgar chauvinism for masculine honesty. Well, as the fates would have it, Ratner went out and said something stupid and had no choice but to resign from his job at the Oscars.

Eddie Murphy, the 50 year-old gazillionaire, who stars in Ratner’s new film Tower Heist (which was presumably pitched as a cross between Die Hard and 48 Hours, only with mature stars) and slated to host the Oscars, also decided to bow out, leaving the show briefly leaderless. Into the breach stepped Brian Glazer, who as the new producer turned to Billy Crystal to serve as host for the 200th time.

I was worried this was going to happen, and as such, I wrote Glazer a letter.

Dear Mister Glazer:

I like your hair.

Brian+Glazer+HELP+.jpgNot everybody likes your hair. Many think that it looks stupid on a man of 60, suggesting that he’s trying too hard to be, you know, “with it.” Well, I don’t think that, and as we’re both men of the world, I trust I can speak candidly to you. I think your hair shows an independent streak, projecting the self-assurance of a true iconoclast who has nothing but courage pulsing through his veins. When I see your hair, I see a man who’s not afraid to be different, which is why I am so sick that you took the safe route and immediately hired Billy Crystal to host the Oscars.

Look, I know your back was against the wall, but Billy Crystal?


Look, I’m going to beg you to reconsider. There’s still time, and as I am helpful by nature, I’m going to offer you a list of excellent non Billy Crystal candidates.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

He’s old, still well known in the industry and he has a funny accent. Imagine the hilarity when he comes out dressed as the Terminator at the end of the show and says “hasta la vista, baby!” This is comic gold, and with his bracing Teutonic manner he could keep the show moving swiftly, ending over-long speeches by people we don’t care about by groping them or some other TV friendly means of sexual assault.

Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson

pamela_anderson.jpgMany people have a nostalgia for the late 90s, and these two really deliver! They’re like a modern, “Girls Gone Wild” version of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey. Anderson and Lee will always be America’s sweethearts, and you know that their clever banter would keep people amused and alert throughout the entire 7 hour show.

The Muppets

Everybody loves the Muppets. They’re cute, familiar and they can say anything because some of them aren’t real. I think that there would also be something appropriately subversive and humbling to have a puppet with a funny voice ( the Animal, perhaps) handing the Oscar to Leonardo DiCaprio for his serious portrayal of a dead, white politician.

Okay, those are the conventional choices, I now ask you to think outside of the box.

The Marines and Occupy Wall Street

This is a co-host situation.

Obviously, Occupy Wall Street is trendy as hell right now, and Hollywood, which fashions itself liberal and on the edge, would find it convenient to support the movement from plush seats while wearing $100,000 tuxedoes. Of course, as there’s no single leader for the movement and politics is boring, the OWS movement would have to assume a subordinate role in hosting. I see a small and telegenic group of them, culled from Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street ( highlighted to video or photo—-both are here) off on the side of the stage by a tent, just going about their business. Maybe doing yoga. Whenever there is a cut to commercial, the camera could thoughtfully pan over to them, make us think a little, you know. And of course, they could participate in some song and dance numbers, too.

* You could also use the OWS protesters as presenters.

But to really shore up this idea, you need the Marines. Their presence would be a patriotic shout-out to all the men and women who serve in the American military, and they would make a compelling series of hosts. For each award, a Marine or group of Marines would march out on stage, tell us who they are and where they serve, make a touching comment about how a movie got them through a tough spot, crack some Hollywood insider joke and then barl out the nominees. Near the end of the show the Marines could have a dramatic theatrical confrontation with the OWS girls, ending with a collaborative love-dance teaching us that we’re really all on the same side. ( And like Schwarzenegger, the Marines would also be good at maintaing show discipline and eliminating any stage crashers.)

The Angry Birds

As an homage to Steve Jobs and all that the iPhone has done for us.

The Gays

The Academy Awards are like the gay Super Bowl. The Oscars are the time of the year when we all go running around looking for our cattiest gay friends, hoping that they’ll come to our Academy Award party and make all the withering remarks we lacked the nerve to utter. This would be a nice comeuppance to Ratner for his initial f*g remark, too, showing the world that Hollywood is more than just a big, fabulous closet for talented gay people. Each person who won an award would also get glitter bombed.

Of course, there are many gays to choose from in the entertainment industry. For instance, many of the female gays are stand-up comedians who often dress in suits. This is the sort of thing that the Academy seems to like, as it combines solemnity (the suit) with zippy one-liners. Many of the gay men, however, must remain in the closet, lest the American public doesn’t find them believable in action roles, so if you want to find a gay man, you’re going to have to go out and get one who doesn’t have a career. I think the perfect choice here would be surviving Star Trek alumni and Twitter sensation George Takei, who you might remember as Hikaru Sulu on “Star Trek.”

He’s way gay.

Anyway, these are just a few of my suggestions to you, and I hope that you have the courage, as your hair suggests you do, to follow through on one of these ideas, instead of Billy Crystal, who is a kind of anti-idea, and create an Academy Awards ceremony for the ages.

Fortune favours the bold, Brian!

Sincerely, you friend,

Michael Murray

Michael Murray is a freelance writer. He presently lives in Toronto. You can find more of his musings on his blog, or check out his Facebook page.

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