When living far from my home in New York City, as I have been these past months working on the Sarasota Film Festival, the internet is an invaluable tool in staying close to my old routines; I can still listen to my favorite radio stations via an iTunes stream (WNYC during the days, WFMU at night), I read the film listings at BAM and The Film Forum with a wistful eye, and I get to have my daily New York Times delivered straight to my laptop.
The NY Times is a paper of endless fascination for me. It is the perfect tool to contextualize your life and economic reality in New York City. Often, just when I am feeling good about myself and the quality of life I have been able to create by amassing piles of debt and doing some hard work, there’s the Old Grey Lady on hand to bitchslap me back to reality. Have a nice dinner last night? Well, you weren’t at the opening of Del Posto. Getting situated in your apartment? Your neighborhood is so 2005. One year, there was a special article in the Style section in early December which answered a nagging question that was plaguing me at the time; What’s in in servant wear this holiday season? (Answer: White gloves, still!) And to think, I let my servants wear casual clothes. Well, we do Christmas in the Hamptons.*
That's right, even FDR promoted domestic servitude, so I should probably shut my guilt ridden white liberal mouth and just sit back and enjoy!
Leave it to the Times and that ever so personally relevant Style section to bring me back down to earth about this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Just when I was feeling good about all of the socially relevant, issue oriented 'little' films among this year's nominees, here comes good' ol Allison Hope Weiner to remind me what the show is really about. I was expecting a primer on how to host an Oscar party the right way (Answer: Paint your servants Gold, still!), but I instead got tremendously helpful advice on how to attend the Academy Award events. This might be the most disgusting article I have ever read.
Highlights from Ms. Weiner’s tremendous piece of reportage:
“Here, as a service to the socially befuddled, is a guide to Hollywood merrymaking during Oscar week...
Socially befuddled? Check. This article is clearly written for a guy like me. Moving on...
"IF YOU'RE SOMEONE'S DATE, DON'T EXPECT TO BE INTRODUCED. No one cares about spouses, relatives and arm candy at Hollywood parties. You could be a Nobel laureate, but if you're a plus-one during Oscar week, no one will want to meet you. And your significant other probably won't introduce you. Don't take it personally. ‘Nobody even bothers to find out the name of someone's guest, who most likely could be interesting in their own right,’ said Melanie Greene, a talent manager, whose clients include Paul Bettany and David Duchovny.”
“IF YOU HAVEN'T WORKED ON ONE OF THE NOMINATED FILMS, CONSIDER STAYING HOME. Being at an Oscar party without a nomination is like bleeding in an ocean surrounded by sharks. The safest course is to stay out of the water. ‘The cool etiquette is don't go if it's not your year,’ said Cathy Schulman, a producer of ‘Crash,’ a best-picture nominee. ‘If you want to feel irrelevant in this town, go to a party where you're not what it's all about. It really doesn't matter to anyone how much else you've achieved in your career. Around Oscar time it's about being part of those nominated films.’”
I hadn’t yet gouged out my eyeballs when I came across this delicious piece of sage wisdom:
“GIVE YOUR ENTOURAGE THE NIGHT OFF. Yes, traveling with an entourage is a standard way of flaunting power in Hollywood, and thanks to a certain HBO series they have a kitschy hipness. But this is not the weekend to roll up to Barry and Diane's with a dozen friends from your hometown.”
The lowest blow came next.
"Hollywood insiders know better than to expect their host to be waiting on the other side of the velvet rope to greet them. When Ronald Harwood, who won an Oscar for his screenplay for 'The Pianist' in 2003 arrived at the Vanity Fair party that year, he was annoyed to find no representatives of the magazine to greet him and his wife. 'We walked around the party for quite a while and never once encountered anyone from Vanity Fair or anyone else that we knew,' he remembered. 'We finally decided to call for our motorcar, which had just succeeded in finding a parking place. We later found out that everyone we knew was in the V.I.P. room.' "
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to verify that your eyes did not deceive you; the above quote actually did come from the man who wrote the screenplay for The Pianist, the story of a jewish artist who perilously rides out the Holocaust by hiding from the Nazis. Unfortunately, he was unable to hide in the V.I.P. room of the fucking Vanity Fair party.
And finally some advice we can all use…
“AND IF YOU DON'T GET ANY INVITATIONS AT ALL ... For those who live and work in Hollywood and yet for some reason do not show up on any invitation lists, take heart. There is always next year. ‘If you're not invited to A-list parties, it's a tough night to get through,’ Mr. Tisch said. ‘I'd recommend three Xanax, a great bottle of cabernet and looking for a new publicist.’ “
Oh, ha-ha-ha. Touché, Mr. Tisch.
Seriously, do I really work in the same business, even at its most tangential, as these people? Is this bullshit really the nature of the beast? After I call my entourage and give them the night off, I am going to take three Xanax and hang myself from Barry and Diane's shower curtain rod. Don't take it personally, whatever your name is. It really IS a tough night to get through.
*I not only have neither servants nor a house in the Hamptons, but I don’t believe that Christmas is a verb.