3 Tips for Your Oscar Speech

3 Tips for Your Oscar Speech
The glam and glitz notwithstanding, what viewers of Sunday’s Oscars Awards ceremony will be watching won’t only be who gets anointed with Academy Awards, but how they express their gratitude upon receiving them. This is when the real drama begins for viewers of the annual industry love-fest. In my opinion, this should rank its own award. After all, this is where stars either shine brighter or start their inevitable fade. Continue reading “3 Tips for Your Oscar Speech”

Oscar’s All a’Twitter

Come February of every year, scads of entertainment journalists engage in a ritual peculiar to their beat. They apply for press credentials to cover the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ annual Academy Awards.

An awards ceremony for motion pictures presented on television epitomizes traditional media. If the gold statuette was wrapped in newspaper like a fish, perhaps the event could be even more quaintly 20th century. Despite its antiquarian trappings, this year Oscar is poised at the nexus of traditional and social media.

In addition to the usual questions used to vet journos’ credibility in the online credential application, a new query appears: “Tell us about how we can find you online?blogs, Twitter, Facebook, other social media platforms.”

Social media like Twitter have been a boon for journalists, and not merely for those upgrading their bylines to brand names. (The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism cited the “personal branding” of journalists online as a major trend in its State of the News Media Report for 2009.) Social media tools have also enabled journalists laboring under repressive regimes to bypass censors and transmit reportage to the world, if only at 140 characters at a time.

For some media critics, freedom of the press coupled with free blogging services have resulted in either a free-for-all or a free fall. Consider the so-called citizen journalists, whose training consists of little more than glossing the “Terms of Service” agreement on a video-sharing site and who routinely break stories via social media. In an era when an anonymously posted YouTube video depicting the death of 26-year-old Iranian activist can put those who produced it in the company of New York Times and New Yorker reporters when winning journalism’s prestigious George Polk Award, the redefining of what a journalist is must be under way.

In its own way, the Academy Communications Department, which dispenses Oscar credentials, has contributed to this process. In short, professional journalists are now expected to have a social media presence?just like the amateurs.

ABC, which? broadcast the Oscars this Sunday, has yet to reveal an official policy regarding tweeting at the Oscars, whether that be by journalists, attendees or even nominees (Up in the Air director Jason Reitman seems to be the only nominee with an active Twitter account). Rival network NBC, however, has had to contend with the social media factor head-on as some of its current XXI Olympic Winter Games broadcasts are released on taped delay; it is hopeless to prevent medal results from being tweeted to the world. There is, as yet, no such thing as a tweet-delay, though the Iranians are surely working on one.

The International Olympic Committee speaks to this, in part, with its “IOC Blogging Guidelines for Persons Accredited at the XXI Olympic Winter Games, Vancouver 2010,” a four-page document intended to police the social media habits of accredited attendees.

“It is required that, when Accredited Persons at the Games post any Olympic Content, it be confined solely to their own personal Olympic-related experience,” it states, suggesting that no news is good news, but writing of one’s aspiration to appear on a box of Wheaties is acceptable.

Moreover, “the IOC considers blogging, in accordance with these guidelines, as a legitimate form of personal expression and not as a form of journalism.” Micro-blogging, fittingly, was addressed via tweet on the Olympics’ official Twitter account where athletes were encouraged to share the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat: “Athletes go ahead and tweet, as long as it’s about your personal experience at the games.”

As a live event, the Oscars have little fear of its winners being revealed prior to some celebrity saying, “The envelope, please.” At worst, entertainment journalists will offer a deluge of online snark, which they will later recapitulate online, in print and wherever else news goes to die. If Oscar winners tweeted their acceptance speech ? la “You like me, you really like me. #Oscar,” that might warrant a re-tweet or two. But, alas, no.

Sonoma’s Oscar Awards

Roll out the red carpet, get on your designer duds and pause, pivot and pose for the paparazzi – Oscar is back.

As in years past, preceding the big to-do on Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences separately celebrated scientific and technical achievements in the film industry with its so-called Sci-Tech awards. This, of course, was conducted in another (cheaper) ceremony a few weeks ago and honored the part of the biz most likely to have sprung from the AV Club. Yeah, missed that one too but glad to know the high school social caste system persists.

For those not attending the actual Oscars, our local Sonoma International Film Festival annually hosts an Oscar party sure to be every bit as glamorous as its inspiration (this year it will be hosted at Estate, visit SonomaFilmFest.org for details), which, given the surprisingly high number of Oscars gracing local mantels is tantamount to the real deal and you don’t have to play cruise director on someone’s ego-trip for an invite. However, there’s no local shindig for achievements that fall outside the purview of the Hollywood popularity contest. Nor are there Oscar categories reflective of the Sonoma experience itself – not the “wine, cheese and retirees” scene often identified with the area, but the daily grind of Sonoma living that gets the terroir under one’s nails.

Consider these local achievements not coming to a theater near you:

The award for “Best Set Direction Evoking a General Sense of Dilapidation and Corporate Absenteeism” goes to (drum roll) McDonald’s on Sonoma Highway. Local lore suggests that an arch meant to span the highway as a “gateway” to the Springs was kyboshed by the state highway system, though pedestrians can pass through a smaller, “consolation arch” on the highway’s eastbound side. It’s ironic that a sign with a pair of Golden Arches and a gaping hole kicked through them currently greet travelers to the west side. Congrats, Mickey D’s! Be sure to reference how you ruin both “waistlines and sightlines” in your acceptance speech (there, I just spared you a c-note to Bruce Vilanch).

The nominees in the category of “Best Obligatory Right Turn” included, – facing south – “First Street West to Napa Street” and – facing north – “First Street West to Napa Street.”

This was the first time that a single street has enjoyed two nominations for right turns traveling in opposite directions. Another nominee, “Verano to Fifth Street West” was disqualified when it was discovered that it was actually a left turn from Fifth West to Verano and technically a bend rather than a turn. The statue went to “First Street West to West Spain,” which accepted the honor with the pithy “Two wrongs don’t make a left, but three rights do.”

The award for “Best Special Effect on a Manhole Cover” went to Sonoma Court Shops, which is studded with several such bronze-hued medallions, each of which are generically branded save for one that mysteriously reads “Santa Rosa Transit.” Surely, no one would venture to a transit mall 20 miles away and man-handle a manhole cover from its native habitat and transplant it to sparsely traveled Sonoma walkway where it would go unnoticed for years. This is clearly the work of a special effects wizard who effectively retouched the once-bland manhole cover to appear as if it were displaced from some far off land. Bravo! The magic of movies lives not only in our hearts, but under our feet.