Winter 2007/2008

The Oscar Ordeal

Sure, it's fun going to the Oscars, but you have to dress for the occasion, and forget about the traffic.


Paul Mazursky

How time has flown. The DGA is getting ready to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its awards. It seems like only yesterday I was there. Just kidding. In any case, before long the Screen Actors Guild will announce their choices and, of course, the grand prize, the Holy Grail of awards, the Oscars will be up for grabs. The show is just around the corner, and that presents a bit of a dilemma for me.

There is nothing more exciting than winning an Oscar and going up to accept the gold statue. Of course, I've never accepted one because I've never won. I've been nominated for best screenplay four times and nominated once for best picture for An Unmarried Woman. Each time I attended the festivities, and each time I came home empty-handed and exhausted from the seemingly endless show. I was also nominated once by the DGA for An Unmarried Woman. I lost that time, too. The bottom line is, no matter how much one smiles and says, "It was an honor just to be nominated" or "It's great just to be here with all these brilliant directors or writers," the truth of the matter is you desperately want to win. Losing stinks.

So here's my problem this year. As a member of the Board of Governors of the Academy I get two free tickets to the Oscars, which means I almost have to go. The show seems longer every time. In fact, I heard a rumor that this year they may give an award for the best craft service. My loving wife has attended all the shows when I was nominated. But she says she won't attend any more awards shows unless I'm up for one. The pressure on me is terrible. So the last few times I've taken one of my daughters or one of my two older granddaughters. Last year I took my 9-year-old granddaughter Molly. She loved it! On the red carpet I introduced Molly to Helen Mirren as "the Queen." Helen was charming and Molly even curtsied. When Helen left Molly asked me, "Who is she the queen of?" That was the highlight of the evening for me. The next seven hours seemed interminable.

The question facing me is, what do I do this year? Last year my tuxedo didn't fit, but I refuse to buy another tux unless I'm nominated. Fat chance. So last year I wore a navy blue Ermenegildo Zegna suit. It barely fit. But I wore it with a black shirt (that hides poundage) and a black tie. It did the job, but when I got home I confessed to my wife that the damn suit was too tight. A week later I wanted to bring the suit to the dry cleaners and have them open it up a few inches, but my wife had given the suit to my gardener. Odd to see him mowing my lawn wearing a Zegna jacket.

The next problem is transportation. Do I spend a thou on a limo for eight hours? Do I beg a friend to drive me and then pick me up? Or do I go in my blue Prius and risk being jeered at by the style police? (Last time, I took the Prius and I must admit I enjoyed the ride.)

Then, do I go to the Governors Ball? That takes place immediately after the show, which means it starts at about 9 p.m. By that time last year, Molly was nodding off so I couldn't really put the kid through another two hours.

Being nominated has its own problems. In the past, when I was a nominee I was seated with the other contenders. That means you are downstairs closer to the stage just in case. It also means you may be seen on the tube nervously waiting to find out if you've won, and then shown with a fake grin on your face pretending to be a good loser. Then there was the moment when I was up for best picture and John Wayne was making the announcement. He meant no harm or ridicule but he called me "Paul Mazurki." The camera caught me with a look of despair and anguish on my face. To make matters even worse, I lost.

So all in all, why bother going to the Oscar show? So many problems. So long an evening. But as the great night approaches, I must confess to a growing curiosity about how Jon Stewart will fare as the host. Will any of my favorites for best picture win? Will I pass up the opportunity to mingle with half a dozen gorgeous creatures on the red carpet? Will Molly stay up late enough to hit the Governors Ball and nosh with Clint Eastwood and Sean Penn? Come on, Paul. Let's face it. You're going or else why did you just buy a new black suit at Brooks Brothers?

Funny Business

First-person columns written by directors about their humorous experiences working in features and television.

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