Author Archives: Stacy Jenel Smith

About Stacy Jenel Smith

Started by acclaimed columnist Marilyn Beck in the 1960s, Beck/Smith Hollywood Exclusive is the longest-running syndicated Hollywood column today. Since Beck's death in 2014, it has been written by her long-time writing partner, Stacy Jenel Smith

It’s Oscar Time! Test Your Academy Awards Knowledge

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

The wait is almost over for Hollywood’s biggest night of the year! With the 88th Academy Awards coming up this Sunday, Feb. 28, it’s time to test your Oscar expertise. Here’s our Oscar quiz, with a little gossip, a little trivia and a few blushworthy moments mixed in:
1. In this year of the OscarsSoWhite Twitter hashtag controversy, African-American Chris Rock will host the show again after 11 years. He’s the third African-American star to take on hosting chores. Name the first two.
A. Sidney Poitier and Richard Pryor
B. Whoopi Goldberg and Denzel Washington
C. Richard Pryor and Whoopi Goldberg

The answer is C: Pryor co-hosted the show in 1977 and 1983, and Goldberg was the first African-American woman — and woman in general — to host the Oscars without a co-host, doing so four times between 1994 and 2002.
2. “Room” nominee Brie Larson’s first language was:
A. Norwegian
B. French
C. Danish

The answer is B: French. The 26-year-old, born Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers, is French Canadian from her father’s side.

3. Will this finally, at long last, be Leonardo DiCaprio’s year? Nominated this year for “The Revenant,” how many times has he previously been up for Oscar honors?
A. 3
B. 5
C. 2
The answer is B: DiCaprio has been nominated five times but has never won. Perhaps this sixth nom will be the charm.

4. Which Oscar winner missed a co-star’s acceptance speech at the 2011 Awards because he was at the bar and got locked out of the theater?
A. Melissa Leo
B. Colin Firth
C. Christian Bale

The answer is C: Christian Bale missed out on his on-screen mom, Melissa Leo’s Oscar moment for “The Fighter.”

5. This best actor Oscar winner’s acceptance speech, thanking his high school drama teacher, a gay man, is said to have been the inspiration for Kevin Kline’s “In and Out” movie.
A. Richard Dreyfuss for “The Goodbye Girl”
B. Tom Hanks for “Philadelphia”
C. Russell Crowe for “Gladiator”

B. Tom Hanks

6. A two-time Oscar nominee for “The Help” and “Doubt,” this actress is also the first African-American to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
A. Cicely Tyson
B. Octavia Spencer
C. Viola Davis

The answer is C: Viola Davis of “How to Get Away With Murder.”

7. Hal Holbrook and Ruby Dee were nominees with a special distinction in the 80th Oscars. What did they have in common?
A. They were the last two nominees born before the first Academy Awards.
B. They were also nominated for an Emmy that year.
C. They both did voiceovers for Sears financial services.

The answer is A: They were born before the first Oscars in 1929.

8. The story goes that she won an Oscar and he was jealous, which led to their breakup.
A. Sandra Bullock and Jesse James
B. Sally Field and Burt Reynolds
C. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise

The answer is B: Sally Field and Burt Reynolds. Bullock learned that her husband was having an affair just days after her Oscar win. Kidman won her trophy after her marriage to Cruise had ended.
9. Which one of these portrayals did not involve partial nudity?
A. Gwyneth Paltrow, “Shakespeare in Love”
B. Catherine Zeta-Jones, “Chicago”
C. Kathy Bates, “About Schmidt”

The answer is B: Catherine Zeta-Jones.

10. After he dumped her on national TV, she showed up on the Oscars red carpet looking especially stunning.
A. Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow
B. Billy Bob Thornton, Laura Dern
C. Matt Damon, Minnie Driver

The answer is C: Matt Damon dumped Minnie Driver.

 

 

#OscarSoWhite Forces Close Look at Diversification Efforts

Idris ElbaSo the #OscarSoWhite hashtag is back for the second year in a row, with no African American, Asian or Latino actors up for acting honors, and “Revenant” director Gonzalez Inarritu the only non-Caucasian nominee in the major behind-the-cameras categories.

Oscar-worthy films and performances by non-white talents were snubbed — Idris Elba (above) for “Beasts of No Nation,” to name one. And there were particularly nasty stings, such as Sylvester Stallone getting a nomination for “Creed” — while the young black director who made the film work, Ryan Coogler, was ignored, as was lead actor Michael B. Jordan.

And yet … the Academy Awards show has diversity aplenty, with Chris Rock back as host, Reginald Hudlin as one of its producers, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences led by an African American woman, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, its president.

Boone Isaacs has been working hard to diversify the Academy membership since being installed in her job in 2013. She put an end to the membership cap that had effectively kept the Academy old, white and male. She launched mentorship programs, and last year started an initiative called A2020 that included a five-year plan to focus on industry hiring practices.

It’s a shame none of this effort is showing up where it counts most: on the world stage with Oscar nominations.

You have to know that the nominations announcements stung. Boone Isaacs admitted to Deadline’s Pete Hammond that she is disappointed — although she was quick to acknowledge the quality of the films that did get nominated.

She also pointed out, “We have got to speed it up” when it comes to diversifying the Academy. Yup. Oscar voters as of 2013 were 94 percent white, 76 percent male — with an average age of 63. Since then, the Academy has reached out and invited 593 industry members to join in an effort to diversify its membership. Even if each and every invitee accepted and each one was a minority or female, the impact would be comparatively small within the 5,783 body.

Academy Members, it appears, want it both ways. They’d like to appear forward-thinking and desirous of diversity, so they elected a black woman president. But that spirit is obviously lacking when it comes to the nitty gritty of casting votes or making changes that go beneath the surface.

While it’s easy to point fingers at the Academy, the problem goes deeper. For all its professed liberalism, the film industry itself remains an old boys’ club — as study after study shows. White men directed 82.4 percent of the 347 feature films released in 2013 and 2014, according to one released by the Directors Guild of America. Non-white men directed 11.2 percent, white women directed 5.1 percent and non-white women directed 1.3 percent.

The DGA has also made moves to diversify under the leadership of its president, Paris Barclay, who is also African American.

How much difference has it made? How much difference have Academy efforts made? In the last two Oscar years, change appears to have stopped.

So the Academy parallels the mainstream film industry — while both become ever-more out of step with the culture around them.