Monday, June 17, 2024

Oscars: Why Spielberg Couldn’t Give Best Picture Award, Oppenheimer Gang Is The Bomb at Universal Gala


Here’s one thing the media misses on these Oscars parties. At Vanity Fair, every picture is on the red carpet, on the same little circle. Then the celebs disperse to other parties. It’s one of the best PR hoaxes in town.

The real winners — the Oppenheimer people — plus no less than Steven Spielberg actually made a beeline from the Oscars to the Universal Pictures gala at Soho House. (The Barbie folks went to the Warners party. The Killers of the Flower Moon gang went to the Apple thing. And so on.)

At Soho House, jubilation was in the air for the 7 Oscar wins. Best Actor Cillian Murphy and Director Chris Nolan were knee deep in congratulations, while nominee Emily Blunt and husband John Krasinski were surrounded by fans and friends like Charlize Theron and Ludacris. Oscar winning cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, Oscar in hand, arrived at the top of the steep Soho House stairs to thunderous applause from the guests.

I asked Spielberg — the biggest name in Hollywood — why he didn’t give out the Best Picture award? Al Pacino made a mess of it, as we all know.

“There’s a rule,” Spielberg said. “You can’t give the award to your own picture. I was the producer on Maestro. So if it had won…”

After talking to Krasinski about his upcoming movie, “If,” I moseyed on over to talk to “Holdovers” director Alexander Payne. He held court on the opposite side of the room, far away from the meathead security guards who roped off Nolan at the request of publicists. (Da’Vine Joy Randolph wandered around with her own team.)

Payne said he didn’t realize how popular Randolph would be when he was shooting the film. He told me, “It wasn’t until I started showing to a few people that we got that reaction. Then I saw it!”

Payne told me his next project is to meet with his frequent collaborator Jim Taylor about writing a sequel to their original hit, “Election.” It would star Reese Witherspoon as a grown up Tracy Flick, and Witherspoon would produce it. My own guess is that Tracy Flick would now be a Marjorie Taylor Greene type, although there was a sequel novel to the original, by author Tom Perrotta, so they have that work from.

As for Spielberg, 2024 will be a rare year when he has nothing in production. He said, “We’re in the discovery phase, trying to figure out what’s next.” I asked him about “Ready Player Two,” but he confirmed he would just be producing that one.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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