|American Beauty snagged eight Oscar nominations in 2000, but was it Kevin Spacey's tour of retirement homes that locked up 5 of the statues, including one for him for Best Actor?|
This is the start of Be Kind To Pensioners Month in Hollywood, although it’s better known as foreplay for the Academy Awards.
Are you a Miss Daisy in the L.A. area, requiring someone to drive you to the Piggly Wiggly for your skim milk and radishes? Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese will be happy to personally wheel you there, or to send over a chauffeured limo.
Do you require Jennifer Hudson to visit your bridge club or sewing bee at the Sunnydale Retirement Home, to sing one of her hit songs from Dreamgirls? I’m telling you that she’s going.
And hey, the love is infectious. Everybody gets to share, as long as they know Oscar.
Are you booking talent for talk shows, anything from Leno to Larry’s Cable Connection? Everyone from Alan Arkin to Mark Wahlberg will be happy to oblige. No need to pay for airfare or hotel and regular tap water in the green room will do. Just put them on the air, please.
All this is because ballots for the 79th Academy Awards have now been mailed to the 5,830 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
They must be returned by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20 to official accountants Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, in order to be counted in time for Oscar night on Feb. 25. This means that nominees have to be on their best behaviour for the next few weeks, because the voters are mulling over their choices. It’s especially important this year with all the tight races.
Nominees can’t throw tantrums or telephones and they have to be willing to talk with and smile at even the most annoying of press hacks. The smart hopefuls are Oscar whisperers. They stroke for votes.
Visits to old folks’ homes is a tried-and-true method for getting votes out of the many elderly Academy members who may not have the time or inclination to plough through dozens of DVD screeners. Seniors are likely to remember the nice young man or woman who dropped by their home to sing a song, tell a joke or play a round of shuffleboard. They’re also less likely to ascribe cynical motivations to it, the way media jackals are apt to do.
The gambit is very successful. Just ask two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, who did a tour of retirement homes enroute to his second Oscar in 2000, the year of the American Beauty sweep. He described it as giving back something to the people who had come before him.
I call it smart campaigning. But I’m a media jackal. Clint and Marty! Can you send that Caddy around for Miss Daisy now?