Until Sunday, you can pretty much guarantee that every news outlet you turn to (including this one) will be obsessively covering the final stretch of this year’s Oscar race. Unlike years past, Sunday’s telecast is blessed with having an air of unpredictability around it. The rumors have been rampant – Tina Fey will surprise co-host! Inglorious Basterds will upset the Avatar-Hurt Locker stalemate! It might rain!
As unpredictable as this year’s race will be, it has nothing on the infamous 1989 telecast of the 61st Academy Awards. And it’s not because Rain Man won the night’s top honor (even though I do love that movie). In 1989, the Academy asked the flamboyant Allan Carr (who previously produced Grease in 1978) to put together Hollywood’s most celebrated night. Carr’s drive to turn the show into the most grandiose display Hollywood had ever seen resulted in probably the most embarrassingly campy awards show ever broadcast.
In just the first 12 minutes, a young actress dressed as Snow White escorted dancers in full body 5-sided-star costumes down the aisle and to the stage (she was “following the stars to the show”). After startling several actors in the crowd, she sang a duet of Proud Mary with Rob Lowe (no joke) on stage. On top of that, Merv Griffin and ladies with coconuts on top of their heads serenaded dazed actors from the 50’s on stage, who didn’t seem to know they were on TV. The night only went downhill from there.
Robert Holfer epicly retells the disastrous event in this month’s issue of Los Angeles Magazine. Even if next weekend’s telecast is the most boring show in history, it’s safe to say it won’t be remembered as the worst Oscar night in history…unless Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin come onstage with pineapples on their heads. Or duet with Snow White.
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