And so we continue with the shamelessly extroverted post titles.
It’s Oscar day. Ho hum for most of us, nauseatingly exciting for those up for awards. Literally nauseating: I would be puking in a bucket right now if I were nominated. With the helicopters whirling overhead because the Kodak Theater is less than ten blocks away, it’s time for me to muse about the Oscars from the perspective of a bit of satellite debris orbiting Planet Hollywood.
Once upon a career, I had this executive producer in London who looked like a British Oskar Schindler as played by Liam Neeson, which, yes, meant he looked a bit like Liam. He even smoked these little cigars, had a super cut-glass accent, wore blue blazers and jeans, and in general wowed me as being the archetypal dashing playboy Euro-producer. Naturally, I hung on his every word. The fact he wasn’t particularly successful, and like most of the people in our business sat around planning and talking about making films rather than actually making them, made not a tick of difference to me. He looked the part. And in this filmmaker’s mind, I had cast him in the movie of my life as the man who would produce me. Finally.
“James, my boy,” Faux Oskar said to me once (yes, he actually used to call me James My Boy, with a slight wave of his cheroot, which dazzled me), “Anyone who tells you he isn’t in the film business to win an Oscar is lying.” I gulped. It had been a very long time since I had fantasized about winning an Oscar, of giving That Speech in my mind. My mother was more excited about the prospect of my ever winning than I was (“Can I accept it for you, darling? Wouldn’t that be fun to have your mum up there?”) However, if Faux Oskar said it, it must be true. So I became a liar without a lie and let no one know I had no Oscar ambitions.
The real truth is I actually do this film thing because I love it. It’s not work for me the way jobs are for most other people. When I am seized with the passion of a project, it’s better than being high on sex-enhancing drugs in an orgy of gorgeous people, and that feeling lasts for the duration of the gig. Now you have an idea of why we’re all so addicted to it, at the expense of all reason.
A few years later, I was in Los Angeles on a second date with this insanely handsome German guy, the kind who should have “Arrogance” tattooed between his shoulder blades, the kind the real Oskar Schindler risked so much to screw over. This Uber-Douche invited me to an Oscar party in a loft downtown, during which he kept sneaking off to the bathroom and doing coke. The fact he didn’t offer me any was bad enough, but what made it worse is that his already rampant Narcissism Personality Disorder was now a Godzilla in the room. He had become Super Uber-Douche.
It was one of those Oscars that happen to me every few years where people I have known in the past were involved with the ceremony, either dishing out or receiving. I believe Faye Dunaway, with whom I’d had a long history when I was much younger, not all of it pleasant, was one of the presenters. Then Akiva Goldsman, whom I had known pretty well in college, won for Best Adapted Screenplay. I groaned.
Now, the reason I groaned was not because I dislike Akiva particularly, even though he was the final straw that made me to decide to drop out of Wesleyan and move to Paris and become a fashion photographer’s assistant. What happened on that occasion is I was very high on pot sitting in my friend Tom Rockwell’s kitchen at college and feeling paranoid (I was a freshman, Akiva was older, so that was extra paranoid-making), and he was trying to explain phenomenology to this other guy, and I just couldn’t grasp it. Little did I know until I shacked up with a philosophy professor twenty years later that I was by no means alone in not understanding phenomenology.
I decided then and there that a) Wesleyan displeased me aesthetically in general, and b) admissions had made a mistake; I was far too dumb to be there. The hidden third c) was that I desperately wanted to get back to Europe, where I had grown up. America was still in a bit of a troglodyte era, ruled by Reagan; the croissant had yet to be introduced to McDonalds.
So there was Akiva, winning an Oscar for “Beautiful Mind,” fumbling through his speech, during which, in typical Wesleyan fashion, he sucked up to all of Power Hollywood from CAA (a Wesleyan creation) to Steven Spielberg. Like I said, I didn’t groan because I dislike “Keevie,” as we called him back then, but because he was shattering my schadenfreude. Up until that moment, Akiva was known as “Hollywood’s Crapmeister,” the man blamed for killing the first iteration of the Batman franchise. That is no mean feat. If I had been known as Hollywood’s Crapmeister, I would have committed hari kiri, ergo the schadenfreude. But when he won the Oscar, I knew that from that moment, Akiva was screenwriting royalty, my new king, or at the very least a powerful arch-duke with connections to kings. He was no longer a crapmeister, one of the worst writers around, someone whose presumed misery had made me feel better about mine; he would be forever more a “genius.” And so I groaned.
And after I groaned, Uber-Douche turned to me and said, “You vill never vin von of dose.” If he was grinding his teeth because of the coke he hadn’t offered me, I was grinding mine to stop myself from punching him.
Later at a club he announced, “Ok, vee go home now.”
“So go,” I replied. And patted myself on the back for rejecting Apollo.
James, you ask, you are obviously the ultimate Hollywood outsider’s insider. How does one win an Oscar? Easy. Just have insane good fortune, a modicum of talent — filmmaking is not rocket science, believe me, not at all — and a fantastic publicist. That’s what ultimately gets you the award. Err on the side of caution and hire Peggy Siegal. Done. She’s a nightmare, but funny in a way, if you like your gossip hardcore. She will stop at nothing and stoop to everything to reach your goals.
Speaking of hardcore gossip, we reach the explanation for the title of this blog post, a tribute to my friend, Indian fashion designer Malini Ramani. It’s the way she gossips, I can never get enough of listening to her. Across a crowded room at a noisy party, you can hear her breathlessly soaking in the latest dish, and she has this raspy voice that resonates through the sturdiest inebriated atoms. When she hears the first tidbit she always says, in the Delhi upper class nasal singsong, “Shut up!” This is how the speaker knows the story is good. Getting a Shut Up! from Malini is the Michelin one star of quality South Asian gossip. If you are lucky to get a Fuck off! next, you have really made the grade. But it’s said like this: “Fuck! Off!” followed by a sharp intake of breath. Now, if this isn’t just gossip, but a bona fide scandal, you will be rewarded with the third star: “YOU’RE LY-ING!” And “lying” is said just like that, both syllables clearly distinguished and with such force of purpose that the capital letters sway to the right as if gusted by a sharp wind of flabbergastedness.
Of course, you aren’t really lying, it just means that you have dished the goz so superbly, scooped every seasoned saried-and-bejeweled doyen in the room to the punch so expertly that you can only be LY-ING. Given that most of Delhi gossip is pure fabrication generated simply for the sake of adding a little masala to the otherwise overly sweet and dull dolce vita everyone there swims in, being a liar is the Oscar of compliments.
No Killough Rant-Post would be complete without a mention of my (in my opinion) execrable psycho landlady, Susan Blais, whom I shall see in court the week after next, after which I shall give you more details, including the address of this shithole she owns so that you avoid it like the plague (I heard from another tenant that not long ago this place was lousy with fleas and bedbugs for six months until she was forced to fumigate). And of course no Pure Film Creative post would be complete without a pic of Amanda Seyfried’s breasts, so here you are: