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Published by: ax-is on Feb 26, 2008
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February 23, 2008The CarpetbaggerHollywood Gets Ready for Hoopla as UsualBy DAVID CARRLOS ANGELES — The calendar year doesn’t get much traction in many parts of LosAngeles, where the Carpetbagger has been since Wednesday, trolling for tidbits tofeed his blog about all things Oscar. The Academy Awards are New Year’s Eve andNew Year’s Day rolled into one, a day of reckoning when accounts are tallied,blessings are counted and resolutions are forged anew.A lucky few begin the year hugging a piece of shiny hardware, while most wake upwith empty hands and a longing for what might have been. The Statue is a tributeto ego in a town that runs on its byproducts.Yet at a dinner party at Mr. Chow’s in Beverly Hills on Thursday, a ranking filmexecutive tried to tell the Bagger that, because of the havoc a three-monthwriters’ strike has played with this year’s Oscar festivities, he and others didnot really care who won.The Bagger struggled to keep the Diet Coke from spraying out his nose. Yeah, sure,he thought, and the Bagger doesn’t want to be the first blogger to win a PulitzerPrize.But it is true that this year Hollywood is trying to figure out how to celebratethe Oscars while acknowledging the potholes on the road to the Kodak Theater onSunday night. The parties are less abundant, generally smaller and ending earlier.The recent settlement with the writers is still smoldering — it is a workingdétente, not a partnership — and the specter of the Screen Actors Guild coming tothe bargaining table with a different and perhaps more ambitious agenda haseverybody on edge. (The actors’ contract with Hollywood producers expires at theend of June.)This weekend’s scheduled coronation is also being stalked by the political season.Everywhere the Bagger went — an opening of recent paintings by Julian Schnabel(who is nominated for best director for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”) atthe Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills or a soirée for Paramount Vantage at STK, anew restaurant/beautiful-people hangout in West Hollywood — people chattered lessabout Oscar projects and more about making sure that they had their TiVos set tocapture the debate between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.That said, now that the Oscars are nigh, Hollywood was finally regaining thebounce in its step. At the Gagosian Gallery, Robert A. Iger, the chief executiveof the Walt Disney Company, took in the throbbing scene milling about Mr.Schnabel’s array of massive pictures of skeletons. “I think the town is ready fora little celebration,” he said.Even without the heavyweight Vanity Fair party, canceled a few weeks back when itlooked as if the Oscars would be star-free, the Bagger won’t have to settle forthe combo meal at Norm’s on La Cienega while sitting next to a guy who talks tohis waffles. Yes, he may be short an invite to Bryan Lourd’s Friday night partyfor clients and friends of the Creative Artists Agency, and the Endeavor fete,where Ari Emmanuel was planning to get funky with Tilda, Javier and Viggo thatsame night.But the Bagger does have one e-mail invite to small studio gig Friday night, andMiramax might let him in on to theirs on Saturday. Earlier that day he’ll be atthe Spirit Awards — a bash celebrating indie film on the beach in Santa Monica —with a party to follow at the Shutters hotel nearby. And on Sunday, one of this
newspaper’s actual reporters snagged him a walk-around ticket to the GovernorsBall after the Oscars.Who knows, maybe he’ll even capture the Holy Grail for a Minneapolis boy like theBagger: an invitation to the after-party at the Los Angeles abode of HisPurpleness, Prince.A Critic’s CriticPaul Thomas Anderson, apart from being the holy vessel of hope and aspiration forcritics and cineastes, is known in the industry as both a straight shooter and abarrel of monkeys — someone who takes the work seriously, but not himself. OnThursday night at STK, he did not disappoint.He was in full cry with his mates, staying late and talking with all comers. TheBagger, who has admitted here that he finds “There Will Be Blood” more admirablethan convincing, introduced himself. Mr. Anderson laughed for a while. And then helaughed a bunch more.“You know you don’t know a thing about movies,” he said.Um, gee, the Bagger thought, maybe this is the point where he should change thetopic to “Punch-Drunk Love,” another movie by Mr. Anderson, one of his favoritefilms of all time? But the filmmaker just kept laughing.“ ‘There Will Be Blood’ was the best movie of the year,” Mr. Anderson said.“Except for maybe ‘Juno.’ And ‘Clayton.’ And ‘Atonement.’ Other than that, it wasthe best movie of the year.”Um, there seems to be one omission in that gracious tick-tock, the Bagger noted.The one that sent the Bagger into fan-boy convulsions. The Coen brothers’ “NoCountry for Old Men.”“You really think that movie was better than ours!” Mr. Anderson said, scoffing.“C’mon, do you really believe that?” Mr. Anderson laughed one more time, clappedthe Bagger on his back and wished him on his merry, misguided way.The White and the GoldThe University of Southern California released a study Thursday about thepreferences of the academy and found that in almost in any given year of bestpicture nominations, the roles in the nominated films for people who are not whiteand male are few and far between.After looking at 30 years of such nominations, the study said, “The data showthere are almost three speaking males for every one female and more than fourwhite speaking characters for every one nonwhite character.”“Unfortunately, females are grossly underrepresented in these prestigious films,”said Stacy Smith, a communications professor at U.S.C. Annenberg and the study’sprincipal researcher. “The gender-imbalance findings are a microcosm of a muchbigger representational phenomenon in American film and television.”That imbalance will be on remarkable display Sunday night, when only one of the 20nominated actors, Ruby Dee, is black. At a time when it’s actors like Will Smithand Denzel Washington who are actually bringing people into the multiplex, itseems as if Oscar has a chronic problem with color preference.

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