LETTER FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
oscar, baby! For almost 90 years, there’s been no more exciting time in LA than the season leading up to that big Industry day when the world celebrates the best of the best in moviedom.
During the first Academy Awards, way back in May of 1929, the affair was a simple one, as befits the small town that Hollywood once was. In those days, everyone knew everybody, and the “family-style” banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel was an intimate gathering. In fact, our first Best Actress winner, Janet Gaynor, remarked years later that had she known how significant her award would one day become, she would have been a bit more appreciative that evening. How times change.
These days, the Oscars are just the culmination of half a year of glittering foreplay: Film festivals from Toronto to Cannes to Timbuktu (well, not quite)… SAG Awards, BAFTA, the giddy-fun Golden Globes!… They all fuel a $$-and glamour-soaked engine that drives a worldwide phenomenon enjoyed today not just on big screens across small-town America, but on every phone screen and iPad from Uruguay to Ulaanbaatar. How clever were those original pioneers, Mayer, DeMille, Warner, et al., to have envisioned such a zeitgeist gone viral?
But forget the business. What the public loves—then and now—are the stars. With all due respect to the bread-and-beurre nobility who people European mags like Hola!, the Grand Duke of Liechtenstein and the Queen of England can’t compete with good ol’ American “aristos” like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. For nigh a century, Hollywood royalty from Gloria Swanson (she married a French marquis to make the point) to Angelina Jolie (aka the former Princess de Pitt) have commanded the world stage. It’s LA-LA land’s gift to the world order and our city’s true crowning achievement. Bravo.
I must take some small credit for helping fuel the madness. Celebrity culture, from my earliest magazine days, has been my livelihood. I’ve reported on stars from Paulette Goddard (Mrs. Charlie Chaplin, Burgess Meredith, and Erich Maria Remarque, in that order!) and Michelle Pfeiffer (never forget hanging with her one surreal, sunny day in Malibu) to Yale classmate Jodie Foster, second cousin Richard Gere, and Brit/It fun gal Kate Beckinsale, our cover star last year, who bonded with me over our love of Jane Austen and, well, nicotine. Oscar for Kate B. one day? You bet.
As exciting as Tinseltown is today, I’m famously a fan of old Hollywood. I have a collection of 200-plus classic movies in my library, and, way back when, coauthored The Variety History of Show Business. How I would have loved to have been a gadfly on the wall of those very first Oscars back in ’29, watching queen Mary Pickford schmooze Paramount king Adolph Zukor; princess-in-waiting Joan Crawford, Pickford’s soon-to-be daughter-in-law, kick up a Charleston with Buddy Rogers (Pickford’s next husband, in fact); and silent film prince John Gilbert squeaking away in his not-so-talkie-ready voice with court jester/“jazz singer” Al Jolson.
Which reminds me. During a luncheon at the Peninsula hotel last year, Ms. Beckinsale and I chatted about starting a series of classic movie nights up at Soho House in West Hollywood. We were drinking, of course—me Scotch, she tea.
Gotta circle back on that. Could it be in the stars? Well, it’s Hollywood… Why not?
And the winner is... from left: Jump-starting awards season madness with presenter Mark Wahlberg at the Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards; doing the rad carpet with artist/ bad boy Zachary Crane at the Golden Globes; getting down and dharma with hip hop mogul/guru Russell Simmons at his new WeHo boutique/yoga studio, Tantris.