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Mar. 8 2010 - 11:09 am | 1,310 views | 3 recommendations | 26 comments

Dissing Lauren Bacall

the cover of Yank, the Army Weekly, November 1944

Image via Wikipedia

Writing about awards shows is not my beat. However, something so disturbing and disrespectful happened last night that I can’t resist calling it out.

Lauren Bacall, an actress so respected that she was recently chosen by the American Film Institute as one of the top twenty-five actresses of the past 100 years, was given the Academy’s Governor’s Award – and then completely disrespected.

Actually, she was given the award back in November of 2009 at one of those luncheons nobody notices.

In recognition of Bacall’s years of phenomenal work, she was permitted to stand up next to her seat and get a little applause during last night’s unbelievably dull proceedings. Oh, they also showed a little video of the November gathering where Bacall said a few words.

Was there something happening on the stage that was so exciting that a few minutes could not be spared to allow Bacall, a truly legendary star, to speak and collect the respect she is due from the film industry? Or was it really more important to waste five minutes on a Ben Stiller bit that has to be one of his worst ever? Or the Neil Patrick Harris song that Randy Jackson would have criticized for being ‘pitchy’ – and that’s the nicest thing we can say about it.

I understand ratings. I know that it is important to pack the stage with presenters who will attract a younger audience – although I couldn’t help but notice that few, if any, of them could help a producer raise one dollar to finance a movie.

But if you are going to spend a bunch of airtime rolling retrospectives on film genres, including horror pictures, would it kill you to give a few minutes to an actor who was a pioneer of the ‘film noir’ genre?

There will be much condemnation of the Academy Awards show in the days to come. Let’s face it – it was truly a bad show. But for all the miscues and bad choices, including the remarkably insensitive omission of Farrah Fawcett from the ‘In Memoriam’ segment (yes, Fawcett did make a few movies, some of which were very good) failing to pay respect to an American legend should be right at the top of a very long list.


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  1. collapse expand

    Let’s start a “Draft Craig Ferguson” movement to get him to host next year. The man gives the most thoughtful and interesting interviews on late night, and the rest of his show is very funny, especially considering that he has no budget and improvises with $5 hand puppets. And did you see his headlining performance when he hosted the White House Correspondents Association dinner? He was fantastic. He’d be great at hosting the Oscars.

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    I couldn’t agree more with the entire writing. The omission of Farrah Fawcett, as well as the condescending treatment of Lauren Bacall, were just a couple of the more disturbing events of the evening. I also found the “Vegas Showgirls” dancing around the stage in the first part of the show to be in poor taste.

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    This story reminds me of the 1994 Grammys, when they gave Frank Sinatra the “Legends Lifetime Achievement Award” but wouldn’t let him sing onstage. Sinatra was 78 at the time, four years from death, on a national stage, receiving recognition for a lifetime of work, and they wouldn’t let him perform a song or two. A horrible decision, and a missed opportunity!

    Here’s the recording of it:

  4. collapse expand

    Friends of mine in the industry in LA told me Ms. Bacall was not feeling well. She was offered time and declined it. The clip was shown in place of the expected speech. Speaking in front of a small group (well, small by LA standards) at a luncheon and at a large hall televised to the world are two different propositions. At 85, Ms. Bacall simply may not have wished to not appear to be at her best. Not everyone has Kirk Douglas’ bravery.

    I agree the show was awful and there is much to criticize, but the lack of a Bacall speech may not have been the fault of the show’s producer.

  5. collapse expand

    If you ask me this comes under “policy”, and what a beautiful picture!

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    When I’m wrong…I’m wrong. Happens all the time!

  7. collapse expand

    This was the worst Oscars I’ve seen in 30 years of watching (I’m not counting the first 12 years of my life) and am appalled at: the lack of a video montage of previous Oscar-winning movies, the undignified and way-too-fast handling of the memorial (no offense to the wonderful James Taylor, but seriously? A live act during this? Not your own song? I love James, but come on!), and the lack of a dignified Lifetime Achievement Award. These are my 3 favorites and a good part of why I watch these awards.

    I was recoiling in disgust at the young, unproven, classless actors (can’t read a teleprompter? Learn the lines. Coughing and twitching? Repeating what the other presenter just said? No class) who were chosen as presenters. It was embarrassing to tell my 82 year old Dad that I didn’t know, exactly who they were.

    Maybe they couldn’t find enough good actors for the presentations? Ha.

    Having the wonderful Ms. Bacall not have her due and get her statue on stage was frightful, even for Dad.

    As far as presenters go, I’d rather see Elizabeth Taylor in an iron lung than see these talentless, fly-by-night teens try to act poorly in a presentation they will never get.

  8. collapse expand

    And another thing (sounding like Archie Bunker), the camera people should all be fired or, more likely, the supervisor in charge.

    On T.V., it was a shamble. Constant shots of Clooney frowning, and every time a black person would win something, they’d do a close up of every black person in the audience. How embarrassing!

    I mean, embarrassing for the camera crew.

    We barely saw the beginning of the memorial because the cameras were all on the wonderful Mr. James Taylor, and when we did finally see the screen, it was from a very long distance.

    I can’t get over the people they left out, what a joke. These Oscars were the worst I’ve ever seen.

  9. collapse expand

    The also left Bea Aurthur off the list of deceased list.

    • collapse expand

      The Academy is saying that they can only put up 30 people a year into the piece and they have to make decisions. Since Fawcett and Arthur were primarily TV stars, the Academy says they were left off.
      That seems crazy. I always assumed that any member of the Academy who passed away was in the piece as that makes sense. Otherwise, who decides who belongs and who doesn’t and why the 30 person limit? Silly.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        I see.

        Agreed, the so-called 30-person limit is another lame excuse, as is their time-limit. They made the limits, they don’t have to set any arbitrary number. As far as time goes, it takes about 5-10 seconds to show a couple of pictures or even a short clip. With so many people obviously interested in this segment (as opposed to song-and-dance/interpretive dance routines), they (the producers) could make it longer and more inclusive.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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    I am an attorney in Southern California, and a frequent writer, speaker and consultant on health care policy and politics. To that end, I am active member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Based in beautiful Santa Monica, California, I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to be a contributing editor to True/Slant. I've recently finished a book designed to make the health care debate understandable to the average reader, and expect it to be out in the next five months or earlier. In my 'spare time', I continue to write for television and, occasionally, for comic books.

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