Award shows have become such snoozers that organizers resort to funny and often controversial hosts to keep things lively.Award shows have become such snoozers that organizers resort to funny and often controversial hosts to keep things lively.
The Grammys called on Queen Latifah, who, by most accounts, brought down the house, while the Academy Awards rolled the dice with Chris Rock. He managed to ruffle feathers even prior to the event. But that's just what the Academy wanted: publicity and controversy. Star-struck audiences can get their fix of glamour and high-life from a ton of different sources these days, and don't have to rely on the tedious Oscars anymore to "get their celebrity on."
But if the kudos shows themselves are declining in popularity, the benefits for a nominated picture are still considerable. Increased box-office grosses or a second theatrical run usually result. Even the locations where a nominated movie is filmed can get a shot in the arm. Witness the central California wine country that served as the setting for Sideways, my favorite Best Picture candidate. Publicity from the picture's nomination has helped double, triple, even quadruple business at some of the vineyards and restaurants mentioned or seen in the film. Even the winemaker who was poorly critiqued in the film, Andrew Murray, knows that there's no such thing as bad publicity. He's also on the bandwagon. "As mentioned in Sideways," posters and ads for his scorned syrah will undoubtedly trumpet. Murray is smartly banking that no one will remember the negative reference. Or care. Not in this information-heavy, knowledge-light society.
Pinot noir is the wine of choice of the film's lead character, so naturally everyone is asking for that. "It's the new merlot," wine snobs tell me. (I think wine snobs in general should be doused with beer and kicked in the ass, but I must admit this pinot noir is pretty tasty stuff.)
The Sideways upward spiral has me wondering how the movie I'm working on will impact the spa resort grand hotel where we're shooting. The film depicts the hotel as a veritable Shangri La, but we're actually using other locations, too, and making them look like they're part of the hotel. If this film is a hit, folks may come here looking for backdrops that are miles away. Countries away, in fact.
The hotel manager, like the vineyard owner, doesn't mind. He's gushing over the potential publicity. "Once they're here, they're here," he says. "I will tell them, 'Why are you looking for real life in a movie?'"
Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer