Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Change of Plans

Up early today. We were looking forward to going to Elizabeth’s to look after grandchildren while she went for her (possibly) penultimate check-up with her doctor. For once, the weather forecast was correct and there was a healthy snowfall on the ground and snow coming down, soft and fluffy, but relentless. It looked pretty and it wasn’t really enough to keep us from venturing out, but Jeff’s company had told everyone to take work home, so our services were not needed. There will be plenty we can do to help in a few weeks.

There’s something luxurious about “found” time: the time you didn’t expect to have. I started with an extra cup of coffee as I dealt with the newspaper. It was somewhat disheartening to read this article. If Detroit doesn’t get its 2005-06 and 2006-07 audits filed in a couple of days, the city stands to lose $52,000,000 in state revenue sharing. Apparently city officials figure they will have the earlier audit(14 months late) done in a day or two, but the 2006-07 audit hasn’t been started yet. A councilwoman said "This is a matter of grave concern to me. It could have a dramatic impact on our ability to deliver services." Duh.

So I turned to something more fluffy and learned that the preliminary ratings for the 80th annual Academy Awards telecast are 14% lower than the least-watched ceremony ever. I am not surprised. TV executives will deconstruct the events. Who should host next year? Were the jokes too political? What film clips should we use? But they miss the point.

Time was people flocked to the movies and became enamored of “stars” for their acting ability or their looks. Then the Oscars were a huge bonus. It was a rare opportunity to see your favorites, what they had chosen to wear and whom they came with to the ceremony. Did they smile and look friendly? Did they applaud each other?

It is all so different now. Tabloids and E! Online and Entertainment Tonight and You-Tube and People Magazine and even the mainstream newspapers write stories and show photos of romances and addictions, babies and rehab, infidelity and Hollywood haute couture. You know what the stars are (and aren’t) wearing every day and if you wonder about their fashion sense, you need go no further than those witty, vitriolic women at go fug yourself. I watched a couple of Red Carpet shows and heard the same dresses being labeled both the best and the worst. One tatty-looking Brit-sounding man with a blue satin rag instead of a tie (or shirt) was gobsmacked that the most spectacular woman a on the Red Carpet was a model, Heidi Klum, and not an actress. Hadn’t he noticed that none of the people entering the theatre was required to perform a Shakespearean monolog? Rather they minced and posed and made a moue for the camera. What’s that got to do with film?

Once inside the theater we had, as John Stewart promised, a bunch of people giving each other awards. I think I might actually enjoy a segment explaining what a sound mixer is, what he does, what he is attempting to achieve. But I do not enjoy seeing a bunch of sound mixers bound on the stage and start thanking a lot of people I have never heard of. I doubt the “stars” do either.

The recent crippling writers’ strike was caused in part by an industry refusing to acknowledge that times have changed. New technologies and delivery methods require new compensation procedures.

And maybe someone needs to re-think the whole Oscar business.

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