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Ape Culture Dishes on the 2001 Academy Awards

By Mary Ladd, Gayle Soberg, and Julie Wiskirchen

3 Apes watch the Oscars and provide Monday Night Football style commentary, except it's like Monday Night Football with 3 Dennis Millers. Our commentary is so vapid we make Joan and Melissa Rivers look like George Will and Sam Donaldson. But then isn't Oscar night all about vapidity? How shal-low can we go?

Studs? Queer? Enquiring minds want to know.

[Mary] I knew I was in for some evening of excruciating boredom when the pre-show started. This was a red carpet full of three-named celebrities, such as Lara Flynn Boyle, Catharine Zeta-Jones and Marcia Gay Harden. Who are these people and why do they have too many names?
[Julie] Do you think Catherine really loves Michael or was it a career move?
[Mary] In the post Oscar press....when interviewed she's always saying "I, Me" vs. "us".
[Julie] She's getting better roles than Zorro now, that's fer sure.
[Gayle] Because of her career move (read, marriage) no doubt.
[Mary] Catharine Zeta-Jones was good in Traffic but this whole power couple thing with MD...bor-ing. Where are the hapless couples, the ordinary couples like Samuel L. Jackson and his wife. Where are more folks like them? Keepin' it real? And why do we have to endure this runway of fashion and chit-chat hell? Ugly dresses and celebrities trying to be more interesting than they can muster. At the end of their short, meaningless interviews they stumble off looking lost and disoriented.
[Julie] OK, should we start discussing Jennifer Lopez' nippage now?
[Mary] I'm so slow...I missed it. They said on the Today Show that it was an Elvis Presley moment.
[Julie] What's an Elvis Presley moment? He never bared nipples.
[Mary] Showing just a neck and above shot....like an above pelvis shot.
[Gayle] Yeah, i didn't see any nippage until i watched E!
[Julie] They didn't cut that on Aussie TV...we're not prudish. After all the gay mardi gras parade is on TV with 500 topless dykes on bikes..in prime time.
[Mary] I don't really mind. I'm not that fond of Jennifer's nipples anyway.
[Julie] I think nippage is a fashion faux pas.
[Mary] It's not like they're so special.
[Julie] Who does have special nipples? I hear Freddie Prinze Jr. has a third nipple.
[Mary] I think all nipples are created equal.
[Gayle] If Freddie has a third nipple, I'm sure it's as beautiful as the rest of him. Sigh.
[Mary] Where was Freddie last night?
[Julie] I hear Marcia Gay Harden has 4 nipples and 3 names.
[Mary] One too many.
[Julie] Julia stiles took the "teen idol" presenting spot. She looked jaundiced.
[Gayle] Speaking of the hot one, he was noticeably absent last night. did Boys and Girls not count?
[Julie] Why wasn't Down to You nominated for best original screenplay?!?!
[Gayle] Because it sucked, I will admit.
[Julie] You can make a lot of suck-ass movies and still get a lifetime achievement award, cf Dino de Laurentiis. Funny how no clips from his Stephen King adaptations like Cujo and Maximum Overdrive made the montage.
[Mary] Hey...what about KING KONG! He's so well hung.
[Gayle] What a cute little old guy.
[Julie] Yeah, but an old guy with really little kids. That shit ain't right.
[Mary] Can I say that on Ape Culture? well hung? Not that I would know personally. I'm just assuming.
[Julie] If you say well hung, we'll get more traffic.
[Gayle] Were those Dino's kids or grandkids? We couldn't tell.
[Julie] Kids, I think.
[Mary] I bet they get teased at school.
[Julie] And don't bring up Jack's kids...cuz he's not THAT OLD although he is well hung.
[Gayle] YES HE IS OLD.
[Mary] We didn't bring up old Jack's kids...you did.
[Julie] Well, I knew you were thinking about it.
[Mary] You can't think about old men and the children who are sired by them and not think of Jack.
[Julie] Dino is like 80, Jack is 63. At least Jack hasn't ever done an infomercial like Cher.
[Gayle] Yeah, Bob Dole and Jack - the anti grumpy old men.
[Julie] If you had to sleep with that other 3-named star, bony Lara Flynn Boyle, you'd need Viagra too.
[Gayle] He doesn't have to - he can date someone his own age.
[Mary] He should...for Viagra. People would buy that. Why buy shampoo from a woman who wears wigs?
[Julie] I think Danny Devito was trying to be Jack...and failing miserably.
[Gayle] I think Danny was just hungry - not everyone has Jack envy. In fact, most people don't.
[Mary] Isn't Dino a dinosaur on The Flintstones?
[Julie] But there's nobody famous his own age. They shoot old actresses, don't they? Maybe Jack and Cher...she's single.
[Mary] She's too tired to have Jack bite her in the ass. She has Epstein Barr, you know.
[Gayle] what's that?
[Julie] Epstein Barr is a fake disease celebrities get...we call it laziness or ennui.
[Mary] With Jack and Cher not at the Oscars...it was dull.
[Julie] Yes, where were the big stars? where was Liz Taylor?
[Mary] There were just middle-tier stars there. no one who got a standing O.
[Julie] Michael Douglas makes me want to vomit.
[Mary] Kirk looks better than Michael.

Still Wild and Crazy After All These Years

Mary Ladd muses on Steve Martin latest incarnation: Oscar host

It's difficult to swallow Hollywood's eagerness to exploit comedians on Oscar night while disrespecting their acting abilities year after year. It's easy to make people cry. Your boss can do it. Why do we value the sloppy somber dramas over the delicate and magical architecture of comedy? If it's so easy to do, why can't these virtuosos of acting put on an entertaining Academy Awards show by themselves? Because they need comedians to do that, god dammit! Watch thespians tell a joke. It's painful.

I was almost hyper to see Steve Martin on Oscar night. Steve Martin (or Steve Mah'in as I affectionately call him) was a big influence on comedy in my house. His full-frontal stand-up phase in the late 70s caught the attention of my brother, who played his records for the rest of us. My father made us watch The Jerk as an example of a kind of comedy simultaneously dumb and witty, pure irony, for the distinct perfect beat of a Steve Martin delivery, the forceful self-deprecation, merciless as it superimposes foibles of others onto himself, taking ownership of them, almost tripping his own self with them. Dick-Van-Dyke-approaching in his physical comedic grace.

Steve Martin was the biggest. Not just in our house, but in comedy. Selling out Madison Square Garden (check out the album Wild and Crazy Guy, please) - no one was bigger. No one has ever been bigger. He allegedly asked himself: where he could go from there.

Become a heady essayist? A novelist? An edgy playwright? A watered-down movie star?

Steve began his career writing for television. I recently rediscovered him (by surprise) on some old Sonny & Cher episodes. He is unrecognizable in his small walk-on spots until he smiles with shaggy-haired (no trace of gray), beard-wearing lankiness. The shows aren't funny, yet they're but a few years away from the comic sketches that would make him famous (the arrow through the head, the bunny ears, the banjo ditties), which always makes me wonder if he was so Kermit-green. Was he hoarding the comedy?

The majority of Steve Martin movies have been less than something wonderful. He's been Hollywoodized. But his appearances on Saturday Night Live show his unrestrained creativity and bite, demonstrating that his silly bravery is intact--his brilliance, and by that overused word I mean "smart" and "shiny".

Having been denied his comedic monologue for so long made this return so exciting to watch, Martin in his pure element, giving an audience license to engage. His act is insular now. Insider-barbs from someone who has become a cynic. Like George Sanders in All About Eve. Or like George Sanders, himself ("Confessions of a Professional Cad"). This is not so good when you think about Sanders' last act (suicide). Steve Martin, take a break. Show us your inner optimist.

Russell Crowe must have been pining for the lost country during Martin's act. Someone who can't bust a chuckle for Steve Mah'in is no sex symbol to me. There are great wits and then there are bohunk actors who star in Hollywood Epic Re-runs. I'd almost adopt Steve Mah'in as my newest celebrity obsession if I had time for one more. Hey, I've already got the Sonny & Cher episodes.

[Julie] Michael Douglas is so SMUG.
[Gayle] Julia's a big star! she's the biggest.
[Julie] Ick...she's FAKE...I don't buy the gosh golly gee crap.
[Mary] Julia works on my last nerve.
[Gayle] Well, have you seen Catherine's jugs since the baby?
[Mary] She had big jugs in Traffic - big jugs o cocaine.
[Julie] Where were Drew and Tom Green?
[Mary] They were sweeping up the ashes of their house.
[Julie] Hey, fire is a comedy killer. As is kidnap jokes.
[Mary] No....the kidnap joke was funny. You have to laugh a little to ease the PAIN.
[Gayle] I enjoyed the kidnap jokes - I wish he really would be kidnapped.
[Mary] ME TOO. I'd do it myself but I couldn't stand him...it would be a very Fargo situation.
[Julie] You are inconsistent, Mary. You wouldn't put "who do you want to stalk today?" on Ape Culture t-shirts.
[Mary] Now stalking....that's not funny.
[Julie] I'm a Russell groupie. In fact, it may be me that's stalking him.
[Mary] Australian brainwashing, plain and simple.
[Gayle] Clear case of it.
[Julie] No, I liked him before I came here...LA Confidential.
[Mary] We will have to deprogram Julie when she gets home.
[Julie] Yeah, stage a 90210-style intervention.
[Mary] I try to remember how good he was in The Insider but it doesn't help. He's smug. I hate smug.
[Julie] Russ had bad hair though...looked like he was trying out for Grease 3.
[Gayle] I liked him in LA Confidential too. But he was so disdainful of Hollywood and America at last year's awards. Clearly, he was just pissed at not winning.
[Julie] He doesn't like the Hollywood bullshit.. he'd rather be with his cows.
[Mary] No one is keeping him from his dern cows.
[Gayle] Bullshit. He loves the Hollywood fame.
[Julie] You guys should have seen him on the Aussie cricket awards. He was charming, witty, and smiling. He likes it better here, hangin' with the blokes.
[Mary] Ed Harris should have won.
[Julie] Ed Harris shouldn't have won. He's too intense. He's humorless.
[Gayle] I like Ed Harris - now there's a good-looking old guy.
[Julie] Ewww! Ed Harris threatened to kidnap Russ.
[Mary] Ed has a well-chiseled look that has preserved well.
[Julie] Vomitotious!
[Gayle] Julz, you of all people have no right to ewww me.
[Julie] Ed can't smile..he and Amy Madigan are too intense.
[Mary] Amy was in Uncle Buck...how intense can she be? During the ceremony I filled in the bubbles on my Entertainment Weekly Oscar score card. It felt so much more interactive that way until things starting going off in the wrong direction, like when Gladiator started winning stuff. I'm so sick of the deference we pay to these used-bargain-basement Hollywood epics. Gladiator was just a rerun of Spartacus (as my mother said. "And Ben Hur," I added. "No. Ben Hur was good"). At that point I started filling my Oscar score card bubbles with winners who would win if I were King of the World. Which, since I'm not, was kind of a pointless and therefore tragic exercise.
[Julie] When I saw Gladiator, I never thought of it as Best Picture. Best Summer Movie. Best Use of the Word Vex. Most Deliciously Gratuitous Shirtless Scenes for Russell Crowe. All of those and more, but not Best Picture. But I can't expect to be happy with all the Academy picks. At least Kate Hudson didn't win-that pleased me.
[Mary] Me too.
[Gayle] Yes! And it was such a surprise!
[Julie] Her performance in Almost Famous recalled the work of Jenny Garth. Jenny overdosed and looked pretty for years on 90210 and never got an Emmy nomination.
[Gayle] All the critics slobber all over her.
[Mary] Goldie Happiness makes me unhappy. Goldie giggle can suck all the energy out of room....does Kate giggle like mom?
[Julie] I didn't want to see tears of joy streaming down Goldie's face. enough tears from Julia, thanks.
[Mary] That whole Chris Robinson circle was surreal...Chris being on best behavior for him mom in law.
[Julie] Although Chris Robinson recalls Kurt Russell in Overboard. The grunge factor.
[Gayle] Chris Robinson is nothing like Kurt Russell. He is UG-lee.
[Mary] But Kurt is fake grunge. Disney grunge.
[Julie] I'm just citing Kurt circa-Overboard, not Kurt in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. Kurt in Breakdown...that was actually a good Dino movie.
[Mary] Even Kurt in Overboard was fake. I didn't buy it.
[Julie] Is Goldie's ditziness fake? Is Julia fake?
[Gayle] Absolutely.
[Julie] Are they always acting?
[Gayle] No, not Julia, I meant Goldie!
[Mary] Same thing.
[Julie] Yeah, not good feminist role models.
[Gayle] No, it's not. Julia glows, she radiates.
[Julie] Someone who made Pretty Woman should never get a best actress Oscar.
[Mary] Too much golly and giggling all the way around. At least Bob Dylan was surprisingly coherent. My God, is he becoming a charming old geezer? Erin was a feminist...in some sense....I don't think Julia makes me believe she IS the character.
[Julie] Judy Dench is a good role model.
[Mary] I love that Dame.
[Gayle] Why do good role models have to be old or ugly?
[Mary] I love her show As Time Goes By.
[Julie] She was the best thing in Chocolat. As Time Goes By rocks! is that on in the US now?
[Gayle] Hello, did you miss hottie Johnny Depp?
[Mary] I thought the mayor was good in a cartoon way and the set was good.
[Julie] Johnny only had like 20 mins of screen time..I felt gypped. I thought that movie was anti-Catholic in a very boring, retread sorta way.
[Mary] It was, but pro-chocolate.
[Julie] Like Water for Chocolate covered the same chocolate territory and was better.
[Mary] Traffic was the best movie, lets face it.
[Julie] Absolutely.
[Mary] Difficult subject, potentially boring, complex plot...all held together seamlessly.
[Julie] Although Almost Famous was close in my view, but not even nominated.
[Gayle] Not to change the topic, but did either of you buy Angelina Jolie's get-up? as if the pure white can erase the fact that she french-kissed her brother last year. I agree - Traffic was best.
[Mary] Angelina is unpredictable...was hoping she'd come with Billy Bob so they could PDA for the crowd.
[Julie] My party crowd was divided -- I liked the white pant suit but others felt pants were inappropriate.
[Mary] Pants are very Katharine Hepburn...I like it.
[Gayle] I liked the pants - much better than any worn by Whoopie or Diane Keaton ever. Just don't like her.
[Julie] Next topic - Benicio: hot or weird?
[Mary] Hhhhhhhoooot. It was a hard call between Willem Defoe and Del Toro...two gritty hotties. I spent a few minutes scribbling out Mary Del Toro, Mary Defoe and I just couldn't make up my mind. Lovers gap or haggard sexy accent. This is bigger than me.
[Gayle] Benicio is hot - he's the Hispanic Brad Pitt. Same smile, same baggy eyes.
[Mary] He's the Hispanic Antonio Banderas.
[Julie] I agree, definitely hot. But more hot in Traffic than in real life. Why was he there ahhhhhlone?
[Gayle] I think more hot in real life. Too fat in Traffic.
[Julie] Maybe Benicio is queer? He had some old ugly guy next to him.
[Gayle] No, not possible.
[Mary] I was wondering if Willem Defoe was...he sat next to a guy. It's talking like this that makes men sit two seats apart in movie theaters.
[Julie] I've seen Willem on the street twice in NYC...both times he was alone.
[Gayle] And ugly?
[Julie] Yes, very ugly...as ugly as Ed Harris.
[Mary] So...that means he's gay? or Greta Garbo?
[Julie] Anthony Hopkins did well...he's claaaasss.
[Mary] Anthony is the classiest.
[Gayle] Agreed.
[Julie] We should discuss Steve Martin. I liked him.
[Mary] He is a comic god as mortal comics go.
[Julie] He's smart and funny.
[Gayle] He was good. He made me belly laugh. I liked him better than Billy.
[Julie] That line about "because we have sex with so many people"...classic.
[Gayle] Yes! Ben Stiller and Mike Myers were great adds.
[Mary] Ben Stiller was on Babba Wawwa before the show. As was John Travolta and Faith Hill.
[Gayle] I didn't see it - was it good?
[Mary] I think these annoying interviews put me in a bad mood. Ben wasn't that great...but his parents were on it and they were good.
[Julie] Oh, I hate Ben Stiller.
[Gayle] You what? I love him!
[Julie] Can't believe Marcia Brady married him.
[Mary] I'm not too fond of Scientology or Kelly Preston...and John is fat again.
[Julie] Why wasn't John Travolta nominated for Battleship Earth (Scientology: The Movie). I think Ed Harris and Amy Madigan are Scientologists.
[Mary] Faith couldn't stop gushing about what a great lover her husband/country singer Tim McGraw is.
[Gayle] Is he well hung?
[Mary] Not compared to King Kong, I don't think so! She talked about how they try to do it with the kids in sight...but without the kids seeing them. I was like: too much information!
[Julie] Yuck..country stars shouldn't have sex. Look what happened to Tammy Wynette.
[Gayle] D-i-v-o-r-c-e
[Julie] We don't get Barbara Walters here. It's sad.
[Gayle] Does Australia have anything?
[Julie] Australia has Russell!! And his cows.
[Gayle] And they can keep him.
[Julie] Australia has Geoffrey Rush who should have won. Quills rocked.
[Mary] Olivia Newton John and Air Supply and Peter Allen.
[Gayle] OK, Air Supply redeems your little island.
[Mary] I liked Steven Soderbergh's speech. He thanked all of us little starving artist people.
[Julie] Yeah, I was glad he won. At least some props for Traffic.
[Mary] Steven Soderbergh would like to personally thank us for "creating" this crappy review.
[Julie] Somehow I doubt that.

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