Oscar Ethics Part III: The “In Memoriam” Snubs, Cont.

The more I think about this, the more it angers me.

All of the performers who were arbitrarily left off the 2020 “In Memoriam’ montage were devoted dramatic artists who gave their professional lives to entertaining the public and supporting their industry and colleagues. They deserved the respect and gratitude of their community symbolized by a final remembrance for the audience, and last round of applause. An extra minute would have done it. Instead, the Academy decided that it would honor a local  NBA star who had died in a tragic accident, under the pretense that he was an Oscar-winner, a distinction itself that seemed driven by public relations considerations. The move was guaranteed to be popular among Los Angeles residents and sports fans, and perhaps even pick-up some extra ratings points. For that, an actor with  the status and body of work of  Michael J. Pollard had to be ignored, an affront to fairness as well as his families and fans.

Here are other Hollywood departed  who met Pollard’s undeserved fate.

 Cameron Boyce

(May 28, 1999 – July 6, 2019)

Unless you are 15, you probably don’t know Cameron Boyce, whose most prominent claim to stardom his role as Luke Ross in the Disney Channel’s comedy series “Jessie” from 2011 to 2015. But then Boyce was only beginning his career, and died of complications relating to his epilepsy at the age of 20. Still, he had appeared in three feature films, and had a lot going that suggested that good things were on the horizon. He had bee cast in the indie film “Runt,” and last year Boyce had joined the cast of HBO’s “Mrs. Fletcher.” Just before his sudden death, Boyce was about to begin production on a new Adam Sandler film.


Ron Leibman

(October 11, 1937 – December 6, 2019)

Sometimes the Academy’s excuse for omitting an actor is that he or she was just a passer-by on the movie scene, and should be properly categorized as a TV actor, or a stage star. This was the argument when “In Memoriam” snubbed the great Carol Channing last yea, and  it will surely be the argument for ignoring Leibman, who was a major Broadway star, most notably winning awards and raves for his tour de force portrayal of Roy Cohn in both plays in the epic “Angels in America” series, arguably the last culturally significant drama Broadway has produced.

Leibman won a a 1993 Tony Award for playing Cohn. For his varied television work. He won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series, in 1979 for ” Kaz” (1978–79), a series which he created and co-wrote. TV is where the average member  of the public probably met him: on “Friends” he had a recurring role as Rachel Green’s (Jennifer Aniston to the culturally ignorant) overbearing father. He had a another recurring role on “The Sopranos” as Dr. Plepler, and yet another recurring role on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

Leibman didn’t make a lot of movies—just 23— but some were important, none more than “Norma Rae,” in which he played the union organizer who mentors and pushed Sally Field into a new life and passion. Leibman’s energy and nuanced performance is a bulwark of that movie, and I would argue that Field owes her career-altering Oscar win in part to him.

If a career like Ron Leibman’s isn’t one the Academy is proud to embrace, then I don’t know what it stands for. Continue reading

Oscar Ethics Part II: The “In Memoriam” Snubs

For some reason, Luke Perry’s snub (That’s Luke above) has attracted most of the outrage, though he is far from the worst of the omissions, as you will see.

Luke Perry

(October 11, 1966 – March 4, 2019

Perry became a teen idol at 23 after he was cast as the brooding son of a millionaireon Fox’s prime time soap opera,  “Beverly Hills, 90210.”  A riot broke out when 10,000 teen girls attended one of his  August 1991 autograph sessions  While starring in 90210,” Perry appeared in the original film version of Joss Whedon’s” Buffy The Vampire Slayer” (1992). That was pretty much the high point of his film career, though he had a small role in “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.”  Mostly he was a TV actor whose career, after a spectacular launch,  settled into the typical orbit of supporting roles in various series and guest shots in everything from sitcoms like “Will and Grace” to “Law and Order: SVU.”  Between those jobs, voice-over work and regional theater paid the bills and kept him working.

He was, in short, a working professional actor who had one burst of superstardom, which is more than most. Perry was only 52 when he died of a massive stroke.

Michael J. Pollard

(May 30, 1939 – November 20, 2019)

Pollard rose to fame in 1967 as  Bonnie and Clyde’s dim-witted gang member, earning an Oscar nomination along with the other honors racked up by Arthur’s Penn’s ground-breaking, violent epic about the lover-killers. He went on to a long career as a Hollywood character actor, aided by one of the most memorable faces in screen history. That face had made him a familiar TV actor before “Bonnie and Clyde” made him famous: he played the cousin of Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver) on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” and Virgil, the cousin to  Barney Fife (Don Knotts), on “The Andy Griffith Show.” In the first season of the original “Star Trek,” he was  a creepy  teenage cult leader on a planet of children.

Pollard continued to make significant films after his Oscar nomination, such as  “Little Fauss and Big Halsy” (1970), a motorcycle racing buddy film in which he co-starred with Robert Redford. He was Billy the Kid in “Dirty Little Billy” (1972), an inept fireman in “Roxanne” (1987), the friend of a Utah gas station owner  who claimed to be Howard Hughes’s beneficiary in“Melvin and Howard” (1980), and  surveillance expert Bug Bailey in “Dick Tracy.”

Pollard was acting right up until his death: two of his films that yet to be released. Continue reading

Oscar Ethics 2020, Part I

I wrote last night that I would not dare watch the Academy Awards broadcast because I was afraid that the political grandstanding might cause me to snap and run through the streets wielding a machete. Alexandria, VA. can thank me now.

  • Almost immediately, the expected “Best Supporting Actor” win by Brad Pitt for “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” resulted in the first politiacl commentary of the night. Pitt began, “They told me that I only had 45 seconds up here, which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week. I’m thinking maybe Quentin does a movie about it, and in the end the adults do the right thing.”

Yeah, that would be the adult voters taking the gavel away from Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff losing his seat to the wonderful pit bull Brad’s character owned in “OUATIH.”

  • Do you think Brad, or many of the assembled Hollywood VIP’s, noticed that Julia Reichert, accepting the Oscar for the Netflix documentary  “American Factory,” said “Working people have it harder and harder these days – and we believe that things will get better when workers of the world unite.”

That’s a Karl Marx quote and a deliberate callout to “The Communist Manefesto.”  You have to be  historically illiterate to believe that “Working people have it harder and harder these days,” and it’s fascinating that the Obamas are funding platforms for Communist propaganda.

I wonder what Chris Matthews would say about that? Continue reading