Knotts, McGavin, Weaver: TV Land’s firmament dims

Celebrity deaths come in threes, the morbid diktat informs us. But they rarely occur over a single weekend, as was the case when TV fans lost Don Knotts, Darren McGavin and Dennis Weaver in the past 72 hours. Knotts won five Emmys for his signature creation, the fretfully goggle-eyed Barney Fife, on The Andy Griffith Show.? Weaver won one, not for what has become his best-known character, McCloud,? but for playing the limping deputy Chester on the long-running series Gunsmoke.? McGavin, contrary to what the AP story in todays Daily News reported, never won an Emmy (he was nominated once for playing Murphy Browns? father), but he did win a Cable ACE, an award so prestigious theyve quit handing them out (imagine that, in an era where a new awards show seems to pop up every other week). His most beloved character was Carl Kolchak, the glibly beleaguered reporter/monster hunter of The Night Stalker? telefilms and TV series. All three men died in their 80s after extended illnesses. I have powerfully uninteresting anecdotes about all three.
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Oscars: Cross-pollinating the nominees

As good as the Oscar nominees may be, could they have been even better had the characters from the sundry films bumped into one another?

Probably not.

Hustle and Flow? and Crash:?

Cameron: That last awards ceremony may not have worked out so well for us, but Im feeling really good about tonight! I think Date My Mom? has the inside track for the Best Reality Series Emmy!
Christine: And the helicopter footage of the last time I tried to escape from LAPD in a car chase is up for a local Emmy, which got me my SAG card!
DJay: Hey, hey, sorry to interrupt, but Im in town trying to launch my new single, and in the meantime, I need to make me some money. What about you, young lady you wanna work for me? Youre so fine Ill give you a special deal we split everything 60/40.
Christine: What?
Cameron: Thats my wife, you lowlife.
DJay: Whoa take a look at you! You almost as handsome as me!
Cameron: Why, youre practically my doppelganger!
DJay: Not only that, you practically my lookalike!
Cameron: You might be family Ill put you on the payroll at my production company.
DJay: Its all pimpin.

Brokeback Mountains? Ennis and Jack visit the Los Angeles of Crash? and bump into Transamericas? Bree as a bonus:

Jack (on Santa Monica Blvd.): When they said there were hills and canyons here, I expected something different.
Ennis: No sheep to herd, either, cept for all those people we saw amblin round talkin on them teeny little phones.
Officer Ryan: So, what do we have here? Well, well: a couple of midnight cowboys.
Jack: We just wanted to do a little fishing together.
Officer Ryan: Fishing for what, eh? I should warn you: Like everyone else in Los Angeles, Im just an unbridled cauldron of seething hatred for anything different from myself, so Im going to have to do something unspeakable to you guys.
(Officer Ryan proceeds to do something unspeakable.)
Ennis (philosophically): If you cant fix it, you gotta stand it.
Bree: Toby? Is that you? Ive been searching for my reprobate son officer, what are you doing to them?
Officer Ryan (taking in Bree): Oh, God, it just keeps getting worse Id pray for an apocalyptic storm of frogs to cleanse this city, but that movie didnt come out this year.
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Oscars: Happy birthday, Robert Altman

Everyone who gets into the entertainment-industry business, no matter how tangentially, has that one film or TV experience in his or her youth that served as an irrevocable hook. (Except, of course, for some of those who came of age after the mid-to-late 80s, when the allure of easy fame and money rather than artistic expression became just as compelling, as fawning Entertainment Tonight? profiles began boasting about as much aesthetic merit as most Hollywood movies.) For me, it was Robert Altmans 1975 masterpiece Nashville.?

Altman, who turned 81 today, will receive a (some believe) long overdue Oscar next month, one of those nebulous lifetime achievement? deals, a traditional Academy mea culpa acknowledging its penchant for rewarding work thats more of-the-moment than enduring (can an honorary Oscar for Martin Scorsese be far behind?). In Altman’s career, he’s been 0-for-7 at the Oscars (including two nominations for producing Best Picture nominees). But then, as a self-styled maverick who preferred butting heads with studio executives over adhering to traditional narrative storytelling, that seems as it should be you can scarcely be an outsider when the august body overseeing your craft rewards you for your craftiness, for your repeated refusal to play by their rules. Hed likely agree he has always enjoyed trashing the Hollywood system to appreciative interviewers.
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Oscars: Clooney and chili

Like most guys from Cincinnati, George Clooney likes his hometown’s chili,
a weird brew with mealy ground beef and a zing derived from — get this — cinnamon. I admit I like it too, having eaten my share of Skyline Chili as a University of Cincinnati student. So back in 2000, when he gave me an exceptionally good interview a few days before his live television production of “Fail Safe,” I thought it was appropriate for me to send him a little gift — a couple of packets of Cincinnati chili seasoning. I reminded him of it Monday…
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Oscars: Red Carpet class

The motion picture academy has tapped Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies, Variety columnist and all-around Oscars historian, to be the official “celebrity greeter” on the red carpet. Osborne will introduce and interview any celeb who stops by his post. We presume he’ll leave the breast-tweaking and underwear inquiries to Isaac Mizrahi of “E!”
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No one’s deconstructed the Razzies yet? Well, off to work.

Hard to believe, but the Razzies, an awards group mocking the worst Hollywood has to offer (at least, ostensibly), has become an institution: Its founders announced their 26th annual nominees for 2005. Worst Picture nominees include “Son of the Mask” — which I’m pretty sure no one with a discernible IQ saw, but still managed to lead all Razzie comers with eight nominations — alongside “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “House of Wax” and “Dirty Love.” About all of which, here’s guessing, that earlier caveat could be applied. (Can you imagine film critics at screenings for these movies, realizing they could probably rob everyone else in the theater of their life savings simply through rudimentary card tricks — which obviously would not amount to a lot of cash, but still?)
All well and good, but this year, at least, it seems the Razzies’re shooting fish in a barrel. Of course those movies were crap aimed at subliterates (or even worse — has anybody even heard of the Jenny McCarthy movie “Dirty Love?”); they never aspired to anything but. So by that measure, at least, they’re actually successful. So why pick on them?
More interesting to me are movies that think they’re significant and yet are so misguided that you can only hope you can crawl out of the theater before you choke on your own vomit. For example: David Duchovny’s epicly pretentious “House of D,” the first movie of thousands I’ve seen in which I knew I would hate it based on the very first line of dialogue (or, more specifically, self-important voice-over narration). In case you wondered what, among so many other things, made this movie so particularly jaw-droppingly awful, here’s six words: Robin Williams plays a retarded janitor.
And that’s just one. I’m sure you sat through plenty you could add to the list.
Anyway, the point is, eviscerating “Son of Mask” et al doesn’t strike me as very interesting, and, I’m guessing, it doesn’t engage anyone else, either. So the Razzie folks decided to created some gratuitous categories involving tabloid stories to allow them to take some easy shots at Tom Cruise. Hey, Razzie folks — you review movies, not people’s life choices; let the pundits make fun of the idiots who misguidedly decide they’re experts on “issues.” And be guttier: Find higher-profile and more provocative movies to make fun of, rather than run-of-the-mill dreck that took their requisite knocks from professional critics way back when they were released.
By the way, is there an award for people who dump on people who dump on other people? Because, you know, there simply aren’t enough awards given out in Hollywood every year.

Oscars: Walk the (red carpet) line

The woman who has styled Oscars red-carpet looks for Courtney Love, Madonna and Aimee Mann has a new client to prep for the Academy Awards next month: herself.

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Arianne Phillips, stylist to some of the worlds most trendsetting singers and actresses, was the wardrobe wizard on “Walk the Line,” nominated for Best Costume Design. Whats interesting about this accolade is that it brings a thread of costume-designer history full circle. In the old days before stars had stylists, they would lean on costume designers for a little extra help at Oscar-time, sometimes ending up in frocks dusted off from studio wardrobe closets. Nowadays costume designers rarely do personal styling for stars, but Phillips is an exception: in between designing costumes for Madonnas tours, shell do a movie here, a music video there, a magazine editorial here, a book there. Not only is Phillips an energetic maverick, shes also a rare bird in that she is already talking about whom shell wear to the Academy Awards. I will probably wear a dress that my assistant costume designer on Walk the Line will design,? she tells ClothesHoarse. His name is Carlos Rosario.? We hope Rosario is ready for the aftermath: when Phillips dressed Madonna for the ’97 Oscars (above) in Olivier Theyskens, the unknown Belgian designer pole-vaulted to almost unmanageable stardom. Now he’s designing the venerable French line Rochas.

Grammys: Wild On …

David Wild is a busy man these days, so it was very impudent of me to pester him, but I have his email address, so there wasnt much he could do about it. Hes a contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine and has written a few books, including the Friends? farewell retrospective two years back. But the reason hes appearing in this blog is he writes awards shows in the past, hes done the Emmy Awards, the MTV Movie Awards, the Peoples Choice Awards among others (he received an Emmy nomination himself for co-writing the post-9/11 tribute special America: A Tribute to Heroes?). Today, hes working 24/7 as head writer for the 48th annual Grammy Awards, airing Feb. 6 on CBS. And, as youll find out in this little Q&A, not only is he a busy man, but hes a very diplomatic fellow, as well.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge in writing an awards show?
A: My biggest challenge is to keep things moving, to get out of the way of all the much more talented people onstage, and to get invited to all the afterparties.
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