Topic "A" This!: Who Do You Have To Buck, Duck, and/or Muck Around Here To Get An Oscar Nomination?

Written by John Peurach

Saturday, 21 January 2012

image for Topic "A" This!: Who Do You Have To Buck, Duck, and/or Muck Around Here To Get An Oscar Nomination?
HOLLYWOOD, MON AMOUR: That's funny, I always thought it was the pictures that got small.

HOLLYWOOD - Who knew??

Well, after seeing cool, calm, groovy as all get out of town, eyes on the surprise film guru Christopher Nolan's totally up front where it counts most, soon to be unleashed, full-service (Topic "A" - Hollywood style) documentary, "Who Do You Have To Buck, Duck and/or Muck Around Here To Get An Oscar Nomination?", it certainly appears as if the only valid from now on collective final answer to such an otherwise what it's all about Alfie inquiry is, at long last, anybody who's anybody, that's who.

In other words, that's right, even you. Along with whoever else is (and/or, ever was - if only just because) still out there, hopefully more than just semi-sort of interested in being front row privy to what, all of a sudden, appears to be the up close and personal big picture inside skinny regarding one of Hollywood's longest lasting dirty little secrets.

"At first I figured, no way, it can't be," said Nolan, during the first leg (and partially revealed thigh) of his highly anticipated press tour leading up to his film's official unveiling later this weekend at The 2nd Annual Sundances With Wolves In Sheep's Clothing Film Festival. "Primarily, because, well, I just didn't want to believe such thoughts. Even after I was presented with the hardcore facts that casting couch-like sexual favors have been going on since the beginning apparently. Or, at least ever since Ralph Bellamy had to screw Ruth Chatterton just to get nominated as Best Supporting Actor for "The Awful Truth" back in 1937."

"Meanwhile, in stark, totally unavoidable contrast to what we've been told all along," he continued, "the overall system of the Oscar nomination process is - based on the research I've done, to this point, especially via the hours and hours of theoretically verified interviews I've conducted so far - without a doubt, just as corrupt, if not more so, than that which is already in place to systematically govern the daily, mixed-up hearts and minds, and well under the radar lives, of so many ordinary, otherwise humble, yet rarely satisfied citizens, perpetually stuck in an uncompromising, altogether mismanaged, somewhere out there in the dark rat race that, for the most part - or, at least that part that can be otherwise explained to me in less than twenty words, not counting any dramatic pauses and/or insignificant lengthy delays - routinely fails to allow them the annual opportunity to seek out the same type of recognizable, peer-based awards for achievement that we in the entertainment industry so notoriously crave on a year-round basis."

"Consequently - and here's where it really hits home," he continued, some more, despite a growing uneasiness among those paid to listen to him and/or momentarily pretend that they had a lot riding on his every thought, "even though, due to my non-stop schedule, and, full-speed ahead, all about me, globetrotting agenda, I'm seldom there. Home, that is. And, even if I am, I'm not. But, per advice from my medical adviser, Dr. Patel, as a rule, at least two of my so far determined voices in the head are always on-call in case of an emergency, or, if one of the cats is noticeably ill, in distress, and/or unable to watch "To The Manor Born" reruns by themselves. Or, whatever. In any case, this whole who you do the do with biz is apparently just as big a part - in fact, bigger, whenever Adrien Brody, John Malkovich, and/or, surprisingly enough, Jackie Earle Hailey, feel the need to enter the building, and sign in, please, so to speak, or so I've heard, and.......uhhh, so where was I? Oh yeah, the presupposed consenting adult and/or seemingly endless amount of not quite, but sort of, almost incestuous-like - at least, professionally - stuff, all the time going on, and how it's apparently just as important to the whole Oscar nomination process as, for instance, daily full-page ads in the trades, special screeners for voting members of the Academy to personally view in the mysterious overly shrouded privacy of their, more often not, palatial mountainside and/or, somewhere on the beach retreats, a seemingly endless amount of studio hosted around town screenings geared to Academy members who like to eat, drink, and have their high end vehicles valet parked for free, and, oh yeah, on a few occasions, sometimes even as important as the, duhhh, films themselves, and, of course, any of the highly nuanced performances of any corresponding actors and actresses, along with, as always, the altogether invaluable contributions of assorted nomination eligible creative technicians, and, if need be, any worthwhile pre and post-production personnel, as well. But, as always, that's a big, tough, if need be pile, not to step lightly in, if you know what I mean."

"In other words," Nolan continued, only because those in the press required to do so, were still haggling over who's turn it was to shoot a thought-to-be whistle blowing messenger who's fifteen minutes or less were about to run out, "to be perfectly frank, as opposed to delightfully Dean, swimmingly Sammy, periodically Peter, and/or judiciously Joey, I guess, I was just naive enough to foolishly think that such yearly awards were based on artistic achievement, cultural significance, and, although not generally the case, maybe someday, I, that is, me, myself and, would hopefully prove to be the exception, you know, due to the multi-billion - as in "B" for Big, Bad, and forever Bold - worldwide box office-like haul, of sorts, that currently puts me in the driver's seat of more than a few cinematic franchises, and, as always, all safe and snug-like into a never ending supply of cool looking pants loaded with tentpoles. All of which, combined with Mr. Obvious, proves once and for all, hello.....hey, I rang the bell didn't I?"

Uhhh, sure, suppose so. But, as far as garnering a semi-traditional thought to be in the bag Best Director Oscar nod (for both "The Dark Night" and "Inception," and quite possibly even "The Prestige"), Nolan, unlike any of his eager to please on-set supply of rotating focus pullers/up-front handlers, has so far remained a totally unrewarded, albeit periodically budding and/or decidedly full-tilt auteur, who keeps coming up empty handed whenever it's time to announce another year's worth of officially recognized nominees.

All of which appears to have been the major motivational irk in Nolan's soon to be unquenchable desire to get to the bottom of something not otherwise curled up in his custom made, fully equipped, on-location trailer, and/or (with the help of several well taken care of union grips), once in a while, provocatively suspended over a well guarded, heretofore thought to be unusable corner of Paramount's legendary Studio 18.

And thus, no doubt, ultimately proved to be the root cause of the primary go-to, alive and swell flash point in the spring of 2011 when, during a Los Angeles Lakers game against the New Jersey Nets at Staples Center, Nolan found himself seated next to longtime Laker loyalist (and three-time Oscar nominee) Dyan Cannon.

Meaning, of course, that in no time at all - or, at least once he was no longer totally transfixed and forever smitten by Ms. Cannon's ultra-ravishing vivaciousness - the fully intensified filmmaker from the UK became so overwhelmed with professional inquisitiveness that he couldn't help but abruptly turn to Ms. Cannon during a 4th quarter 20 second time-out, and blurt out, more or less, what eventually become the title of his latest, full-throttle film effort.

(Although, due to a wide assortment of unbendable restrictions brought on by various regional obscenity laws, stern letters of concern from the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), and, at the real life had to be there moment of initial inappropriate audio impact, a rather noticeable "Hush!" from nearby Lakers season ticket holder, Isabelle Epstein, the original wording of Mr. Nolan's direct to the point question to Ms. Cannon has been subsequently readjusted. Consequently, the well placed and totally familiar colloquialism that would have normally otherwise been featured, as such, within the verbal context of this particular question has been removed completely, and, until further notice, permanently replaced by "Buck," "Duck" and "Muck" - the collective surnames of the father, son, and whole elaborate-like technical host team of certified public accountants - Benjamin "Buck" Willoughby, Donald "Ducky" Willoughby, and Marvin "Muck" N. Meyer - responsible for assisting Price Waterhouse, the Academy and Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' primary accounting firm, with this particular end of the all-important incoming Oscar nomination ballot tabulating process.)

"Needless to say, once Dyan began to ever-so willingly hip me to the trip of what gives, I was more than just shocked by her response," said Nolan. "And, not just because she told me she had to sleep with Telly Savalas to get her first nomination for "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice." Or, that if it weren't for the one-nighter with Ned Beatty, at the Coronado Hotel in San Diego, she would have never gotten her second Best Supporting Actress nomination for "Heaven Can Wait," as well. No, it was hearing about what she had to go through with Terence Stamp - while Alan Bates sat nearby in a Beverly Hills Hotel patio chair, commenting on their partially visible, close quarter activity, while slowly consuming his double helping of room service cucumber sandwiches, and, recently imported figs from Afghanistan - just to get nominated for Best Short Subject ("Number One"), that's what did it. That's what made me really mad, and, suddenly more determined than ever to uncover the truth of what really goes into being an Oscar nominee."

Meanwhile, it was this no longer just simmering, but now, suddenly worked up to a major froth-like rage that, of course, lead to Nolan (with the help of Ms. Cannon, and some amazingly agile, here to there and back, all around town, fancy footwork courtesy of both Quentin Tarantino and F. Murray Abraham) eventually securing the invaluable on-screen talking head services of many of the film industry's most honored, and, as would be expected, frequently nominated performers, film technicians, and, when all else failed, an endless variety of occasionally, almost but not quite, necessary studio executives for what ultimately jelled in no time at all - or, as soon as he could guarantee that, if it ever came to any sort of fork in the road situation that might otherwise require similar styled sleeping around, only Penelope Cruz, Catherine Keener, Djimon Hounsou, Jude Law, and/or Jaye Davidson (in the event of a real emergency) would be called in to do what they could in order to speed things along - into the film, as it is now, on the verge of it's about to happen Sundances With Wolves In Sheep's Clothing Film Festival premiere, and, of course, it's subsequent extra-wide release to a supermarket checkout line near you.

In any case, based on many of those in the know who've been lucky enough to witness the film's till now only known preview screening (at the Gabby Delray Senior Living Community multi-purpose room in Delray Beach, Florida), "Buck, Duck & Muck" - the film's now preferred shorthand title, as currently used in all inter-office communiqués, press releases, and handwritten greeting cards containing notification of Paypal generated bribes to an assortment of on-line film enthusiasts in the hopes that they will assist in all forms of hope to be implied positive word-of-mouth marketing, up to, and including, anything else said mouth (or mouths) might be capable of at a later date, preferably in an as out of the way location as possible, to be determined later, and/or, after a couple of drinks, whichever comes first - no pun intended, but as long as you're in the neighborhood, sure, why not? - there's plenty to learn from many of the principal participants in Nolan's blow more than just the lid off extravagonzo, of sorts.

In other words, scheduled to be included are: Amy Adams, Pedro Almodovar, Alan Arkin, Casey Affleck, Carroll Baker, Juliette Binoche, Karen Black, Peter Bogdanovich, Ellen Burstyn, Jim Broadbent, Minnie Driver, Atom Egoyan, Milos Forman, Robert Forster, Elliot Gould, Paul Haggis, Woody Harrelson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons, Norman Jewison, Diane Ladd, Martin Landau, Juliette Lewis, David Lynch, Harvey Keitel, Rinko Kikuchi, Sally Kirkland, Kevin Kline, Julianne Moore, Nick Nolte, Clive Owen, Ellen Page, Randy Newman, Lena Olin, Peter O'Toole, Al Pacino, Michael J. Pollard, Burt Reynolds, Eric Roberts, Mercedes Ruehl, Chloe Sevigny, Mira Sorvino, Dean Stockwell, Billy Bob Thornton, Jennifer Tilly, Meg Tilly, Kathleen Turner, Brenda Vaccaro, Ethan Van der Ryn, Sigourney Weaver, James Woods, Steven Wright, and Vilmos Zsigmond).

And, of course, at least five more, who, based on pre-release hype currently circulating every which way, are clearly the standout unusual suspects who would appear to deserve special mention for their contributions herein.

Seymour Cassel - Because his, eventually nominated for, but, at the time, only semi-up for consideration performance as Chet in John Cassavetes' "Faces" was so totally outside the typical studio system house of cards and box of you know what, not only did Mr. Cassel have to enjoy the amorous attentions of Simone Signoret ("Room at the Top" and "Ship of Fools") for a longer than usual afternoon into evening at the Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City, while the New York Jets were beating the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, but, just to show how tricky it was back then for indie films to get any attention, he also had to hold hands with director John Schlesinger ("Midnight Cowboy," "Darling," and "Sunday, Bloody Sunday") a week later during a DGA screening of "The Night They Raided Minsky's."

Bruce Dern - His rambling, almost "Dream Songs" by John Berryman-like retell of nailing Sylvia Miles ("Midnight Cowboy" and "Farewell, My Lovely") at the LAX Marriot will, if ever officially transcribed, from now on be the primary monologue used by every middle aged thespian hoping to kill during an audition that, if done properly, will immediately be so successful there will never be any need for a call back.

Lee Grant - Although it's been well documented that Ms. Grant was unfairly blacklisted for much of the 1950's and early 1960's, there's every reason now to believe that her LOL reaction to what went on with her and Broderick Crawford ("All The King's Men") in a back room at the Friars Club in early 1952, while George Gobel and Henny Youngman guarded the door, might have indeed contributed some of the ooomph that went in to sustaining her somewhat lengthy exile from Hollywood. Or, at least until it came time for her to begin mending a few in-town/out-of-town fences via an extended evening of quality time with Red Buttons ("Sayonara") at a Big Bear ski lodge in early 1970.

Tuesday Weld - Given the fact that, at least in the eyes of the press, and thus, the hearts and minds of the film going public, Ms. Weld was, during much of her early years in Hollywood, believed to be something of an all around the town (and then some) tart, it's odd to realize that she's only been up for an Oscar once, as Best Supporting Actress for "Looking For Mr. Goodbar." But, then again, considering the mine field-like supply of guys (Hugh Griffith, George Kennedy, Michael Dunn, Peter Ustinov) and gals (Carol Channing, Grayson Hall, Agnes Moorehead, Susan Tyrell) she reportedly would have had to contend with in order to pickup a nomination, it's no wonder she held her ground and waited until it was time for George Segal to otherwise make her day, and, for a while there, her night too, at the late, great, used to be on the strip, Sands Hotel in Las Vegas.

J. Edgar "Zip" Zimmerman - This dapper gent guickly proved to be a totally invaluable human resource tool, of sorts. For the simple reason that as a semi-legendary, longtime well connected film/TV industry gadabout, he knew where most of the bodies for something like this were buried, so to speak. And, when he didn't know for sure, he always knew who did know. Either way, it's pretty much what you would expect from a guy (cause why) who, for so many years, was nothing if not a major in-studio cog of limited significance, breezing his way through a variety of odd, yet forever seem to be cushy, job turns at numerous Hollywood-based (more or less) showbiz mainstays (Columbia Pictures, The Director's Company, Crazy F.N.George Slaughter Productions, ICM, Paramount, Orion, Tri-Star, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Zoetrope Studios, the William Morris Agency, Larry Flynt Publishing, and Canter's Deli), while, of course, also appearing regularly as: a substitute teacher in the L.A. Unified School District; an every other weekend cabana boy for Sally Kellerman; and, a recurring background extra, featured usually as a stiff on any of the CSI shows, and/or, as an altogether bigger stiff as a courtroom observer/sometimes defendant/soon to be dead guy/totally immature ex-boyfriend, dad, or uncle/unwilling alleged father, on "Boston Legal," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "East Bound And Down," FOX News, "Glee," "General Hospital," "Grey's Anatomy," "JAG," "Malcolm in the Middle," "Shasta McNasty," "Titus," pretty much every judge or Maury show, and/or, any film directed by Kevin Smith, during the past eighteen years.

Anyway, it was though Zip Zimmerman's carefully thought out explanations about the Oscar nominating process that eventually helped show Nolan where to go, who to talk to, what he would need to ask, when to leave if things ever became too much to bear, and, oh yeah, how to lie extremely still while actors do endless retakes of scenes with as little as one or two lines.

More importantly, somewhere along the way Zimmerman was also able to clear up any ongoing concerns about young adults and/or children being up for Oscars.

"For reasons that will always remain more than just obvious, kids have been, and always will be, left out of this whole arrangement," cautioned Zimmerman. "And with that in mind, they've been given a pass, if you will. And are thus, not only allowed to dive into this as kids, but continually, all along the way, encouraged to not only see, but, as always, further pursue, everything they have to deal with, simply as kids. Which means, the hope is that they, as always, remain wildly enthusiastic yet entirely innocent of all the trappings of soon to be stuck in it, up to wherever, adulthood. And, well, maybe that might explain why so many of them tend to be so messed up and/or unable to function in a positive, life affirming manner as adults, but then that's another story, and, of course, more than likely why the bulk of them eventually go on to spend the rest of their lives somewhere kicking around in our little business of show industry. Or, something like that."

In addition to all this, Zimmerman was also helpful in both illuminating and reaffirming much of what has been something of a mystery deep within the director's branch of the Academy. Especially with regards to how so many of the members were able to duck under the "Who Do You Have To Requirement" on account of the inadvertent loophole, of sorts, created by the fact that, for the longest time, there essentially were no women whatsoever - at least, live ones - in the would have been available ranks of the director's branch.

"And well, then there was Lina," said Zimmerman in reference to Lina Wertmuller, (nominated as Best Director for "Seven Beauties" in 1976) during one of the main parts of his otherwise fascinating segment. "All I can say is, once she showed up, things turned around in a hurry. I mean, in a good way. Especially since, from that point on, the good old boys had one of their own to feast on rather than just continually bird doggin' any new, would-be but not really, young ingénue, or, well, you know - yeah, trust me, there were always plenty of hunks right there, too, giving more than just the high sign during this part of the program. Oh well, you do what what you do, or who you do, especially if you're hankering on maybe getting something a little more than just yet another after hours screen test, or whatever. And then, of course, this all got even better once Jane Campion came on board. And, eventually went through the roof as soon as Sofia Coppola was all there, just waiting to be considered. Which brings us to anything but Little Miss Hurt Locker herself, Kathryn Bigelow. And, well, I'm sure I don't have to tell you how that's going. Or, do I? Huh?? What??? Hey, is this thing on???"

Well, so far it is.

With, of course, "it" being, Christopher Nolan's "Who Do You Have To Buck, Duck, and/or Muck Around Here To Get An Oscar Nomination?"

Which, in case you haven't figured it out yet, is scheduled to have it's lavish coming out world premier this Sunday night.

Where? At the Sundances With Wolves In Sheep's Clothing Film Festival, that's where.

All of which has been reasonably well relocated to not exactly nearby Lyman, Wyoming, following last year's disastrous debut in Park City, Utah, where - as an otherwise no-must-see alternative to the way more celebrated Sundance Film Festival - it ran for half of it's originally planned four day event-a-thon, at the Ames Mister Theater/Stormin' Mormon Norman's Comedy Club before an audience estimated to be well into the thirties, before, as luck and an uncertain amount of had to be there while wanting to be elsewhere fate would have it, two of the festival's primary promoters ran afoul of several major in-town ordinances - most of which involved the improper handling of fire extinguishes and an assortment of ultra-colorful, quickly discarded, push-up bras. And, in one still unresolved strange but true incident, the repeated sexual exploitation of two snowmen (allegedly), who were reportedly among the finalists in a nearby winter carnival then going on at local center for runaway teens.

In any case, following an otherwise festive Q&A with New Jersey-based filmmaker, Antoni Oni Ingmarjohansson, the authorities arrived. At which point, cake and refreshments were served, while fingerprints and urine samples were taken.

Meanwhile, with any luck, due to the current festival sponsor's larger than usual advance pre-order of specimen jars, this year's edition of the Sundances With Wolves In Sheep's Clothing Film Festival should, not only more than measure up, but, from all indications, be back raring to go, as always, better than ever.

Let's hope so.

(Our schools win, too!)


The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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