By Jack Engelhard
First let me say that I do not watch Hollywood award shows strictly for the cleavage. No, I’m in it for the Art — and the Cleavage.
Salma Hayek is the best actor in the world though I have never seen any of her movies. That one eye-candy moment at the Golden Globes was persuasive enough.
For me, the awards season began with the National Book Awards on C-Span, where I learned that there are agents, editors and publishers who actually support writers. This amazed me. One writer after another – the winners – got up and gushed over these people who were so “helpful” and “devoted.” In what universe is this happening?
I imagine that writers less fortunate wanted the names, addresses and phone numbers of these literary helpmates. Since Maxwell Perkins left the scene – where are they?
Most writers are lucky to get a phone call, never mind an award.
Let’s get to the glamour. I watched, off and on (usually without the sound), the most recent three Hollywood award shows; something from the Critics, then the People, then the Foreign Press. This all happened within a span of about five business days, so why, I wondered, would any of the participants, like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, bother to go home and change clothes? Sleep in the limo and stay in those tuxes and gowns until the next round.
I learned that to accept an award, for openers, the winner is expected to trash Bush. This is automatic and guaranteed to gain sustained applause.
Next, to win for best performance by an actor, it is preferable to be dead. Heath Ledger walked off with that trophy, or would have if only he were still with us.
No living actor has a shot when the Oscars come around. (Mickey Rourke disqualified his chances when he outted himself as a conservative – or a no nonsense liberal.)
But it’s not all about the Art – it’s also about Doing Good. At one of these bashes, Richard Gere was honored for his humanitarian works, like that time, in 2006, when he visited Gaza and urged the Palestinians to vote. Mr. Gere told those thousands assembled at a rally, “Hi, I’m Richard Gere. I’m speaking for the entire world.”
We don’t know if it’s the entire world these people resented, or Mr. Gere personally, but they went on a rampage when he uttered those words, jeered him, pelted him with rocks and stones, chased him out of Gaza and made a bonfire of all his movies, starting with “Pretty Woman.” Indeed, though, the people did vote. They voted for Hamas. They voted for terror.
Good lesson that, like Vegas, whatever happens in Hollywood should stay in Hollywood. This is not to say that Mr. Gere is to blame for the chaos in Gaza, that, in fact, he started a war! — but a man exercising his vanity and speaking for the entire world does assume some responsibility. After making “The Ten Commandments” and splitting the Red Sea, Charlton Heston remembered that he was not Moses.
I suggest that actors stick to the script, forget political activism, keep us astonished in the theaters, and allow is to share the pizzazz of these award-show love-fests.
From Salma Kayek, we want to know, “Who are you wearing?”
I’m speaking for the entire world.
About the author: Jack Engelhard’s latest novel, the newsroom thriller “The Bathsheba Deadline,” is now available in paperback. Engelhard wrote the international bestselling novel “Indecent Proposal” that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. He can be reached at his website www.jackengelhard.com.