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Sunday, March 23, 2003


Frivolous Accolades Special Fold-Out Section

Baghdad is on fire. Our troops are under sniper fire on the advancing desert front. Helicopters are crashing to the scorched sand.

And then they go and roll up the red carpet at the Oscars.

Five of tonight's Oscar nominees and I commandeered a booth in a darkly-lit corner of legendary Musso and Frank's restaurant, just a couple of Hollywood Boulevard blocks up from Oscar's Kodak Theater, and talked awards turkey privately. We didn't need the tacky red carpet spectacle, just a couple of bottles of Maker's Mark and a plate of fried calamari with a healthy garnish of those lemon wedges in their mesh lemon-wedge protectors. Nobody needed a wayward sour blast puckering a pristine, ivory eyeball when Oscar might come calling in mere hours.

As can be expected, some proverbial fur flew, blows were exchanged, and the sit-down resulted in conciliatory tears and hugs. Well, except for Nominee X, who wound up urinating all over our table and stalking out of the restaurant in unbridled pique. But these are stressful times in Tinseltown. Allowances are made.

In the interest of not sensationalizing this pre-ceremony event between some old friends in the wake of these most somber world affairs, the nominees' names have been excised from this report.

"Isn't it great how ________ is getting some recognition?" asked Nominee #1, a director. "I've always admired her work from afar." He was wearing one of those Groucho Marx disguises, trying to hide and yet flaunting his presence to those who might want to turn him in for the small matter of an outstanding warrant for his arrest, confident there were no rats in Musso's.

"I want to scratch that skanky bitch's fucking eyeballs out with an oyster fork. Just because she gets a cellphone commercial and somehow backs into a nomination, it's like she's queen of the world. She was unbearable on the set," said Nominee #2, an actress. "And she lies about her age. You like 'em really young. She's not for you." #2 scooped a handful of the calamari into her mouth.

"Leave some for the rest of us, would you?" asked Nominee #3, another actress. "I know you're trying to put on some pounds for the sequel to your diary movie, but save it for the post-show buffet."

"Sorry," said #2. "But you know I'll do whatever for a role. Go up three dress sizes, learn an accent, deal with McConaughey's gropes. Not all of us can just slap on a rubber nose and be worshipped, you know."

"Touché," said #3.

"I love it when the claws come out," said Nominee #4, an actor, jabbing a bony elbow into my ribs. "This shit's going straight into my spank file. I'd go take care of it right now, but I don't want my tux pants tenting out on me." He continued as I tried to listen to #3 dish about her ex-husband, an anecdote involving a certain pop-singer, some rope, and a bunch of bananas. But #4 revels in amusing himself. "I mean, I could really use a twin right about now, you dig? I could be bending ______ over the sink in the employee bathroom right now, and the twin could go and sit in that fucking horrid ceremony. Been there, done that, got the naked gold guy. You dig?"

"I dig," I said, leaning in a little closer to #2, who I think was vibing me during #4's onanistic tirade, probably thinking that we were talking about how hot she is. Yeah, she was eating now, but I think she'd just got off a role as the lead mop handle in the live-action "Bedknobs and Broomsticks." There's something about taking a shag with a size -2 that makes me feel like I'm playing Pick Up Sticks.

"Miramax leaked that DreamWorks was whisper-campaigning that the piano in "The Pianist" had keys made from the bones of victims of Dachau," said #1. "I should have threatened to leak that myself in exchange for final cut. The three-and-a-half hour version is even more majestic."

"That's funny because I felt a little off about even coming here tonight. But H____y W____stein told me that if I didn't show up and support our movie, he would use my bones for piano keys. It's interesting to see the genesis of creativity, isn't it?" asked #2.

We all nodded, except for Nominee #5, a writer. He just stared at an autographed picture of Errol Flynn, arms crossed, not listening to anyone. He'd told me earlier that all of this was bullshit. He just wanted to sit and listen to the bullshit so that he could write about being above the bullshit but at the same time being guilty of the bullshit for Vanity Fair. But he copped to being "extra psyched" about the $70,000 gift bag he was getting at the ceremony.

I felt a kick under the table. #2 was staring right through me as she popped a crunchy ring into her mouth, rolling it around with her tongue before biting it.

"I think it's time to go," she said. "You wanna help me get into my dress?"

"Sure," I said. She got up from the table and walked towards me.

#4 stood up and intercepted her as she crossed over.

"I'll zip you up," he whispered to #2, just loud enough for all of us to hear. "Then I'll fill you up."

She looked coyly over the tip of her nose at him, then took his hand. They disappeared through the kitchen door.

"I think that about says it all," said #3. "See you at the theater." She and #1 threw some bills on the table and filed out of the restaurant.

#5 rolled his eyes. "Tough luck. That guy picked off so much p from me on the set. It's such bullshit."

I nodded and figured out my part of the tab. #4 had, predictably, stiffed us.

"Such bullshit," I said.

About this site

This is the internet home of Mark Lisanti, a Los Angeles writer sometimes known as Bunsen. He is the founding editor of Defamer, a weblog about Hollywood, where he now serves in the nebulous capacity of "editor-at-large."
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