Awards show mania

You can find many people these days who are greatly concerned about the economy; you can find much hand-wringing about the sliding state of the stock market, and you can find loads of folks losing sleep about energy hassles. But you would be extremely hard pressed to find just one American, out of the current pool of approximately 270 million, who would dare to even think that there are not enough awards shows on TV.

Now, I wouldn’t say that these suckers are running rampant on ye olde Boobus of Toobus, but that’s only because I’m more inclined to describe it as running amok. In the first 2 1/2 months of 2001, the multitudes who worship at the rhinestone-encrusted altar of The First Church of Fabulous Stars have had their eyeballs made all rheumy and bloodshot by the following: The Golden Globes, The Grammies, The Espys, The Screen Actors Guild Awards, The Directors Awards, The MTV Awards, The President’s Lifetime Achievement Awards and The People’s Choice Awards. I think there was another one for The Greatest TV Commercials of All Time, which was an extremely greasy piece of work, even for network television.

At this point, one would not be surprised to see The Acceptance Speech Awards, honoring those recipients who made real, nice, short little speeches that included one good zinger at the producer and at least one excellent smart-aleck wisecrack. Also coming soon to a lesser cable outlet near you: The Awards Show Master of Ceremonies Awards Show, honoring the hosts of shows who got through their gigs without inflicting catastrophic damage to their own careers.

Finally, this Sunday night we get to rassle with the Mothership of Awards Shows—Oscar. That means the biggest stars, the longest show and the strangest production numbers. In short, the most bloated old fish on the pier. It’s an annual curiosity: Every year, the producers swear they’ll get the show wrapped up in no more than three hours, and then they refuse to cut Debbie Allen’s 15-minute song-and-dance tribute to Hollywood’s Greatest Monsters. End result: another four-hour, 10-minute slogfest that moves with all the zesty pace of your basic tectonic plate, featuring at least one shot of Jack Nicholson on the nod.

The upside for Oscar being at the tail end of this awards show onslaught is that by the time Julia Roberts and Benicio Del Toro pick up their statuettes on Sunday, they will have their acceptance speeches completely stone-cold honed. This will be about the ninth time that Julia, for example, will be on stage to gush and giggle for her role as Busty Brockovich. That means the chances are very good she’ll be able to take care of her thanking business in a smooth, classy, non-Benigni way, and still leave the podium before the notoriously pushy Oscar Orchestra has to chase her into the shadows by firing up their lush version of “PG&E Poisoned My Mama (Love Theme From Erin Brockovich.)"