Our Not So Golden Globe

Each year the Hollywood Foreign Press ushers in a star-studded season honoring excellence in film and TV with the Golden Globe Awards.

It’s a televised party in Beverly Hills where celebs and film/TV makers drink, eat and try to make merry in the very tight quarters of an overstuffed hotel ballroom.

Think your rich Aunt Mildred’s chance for the over-the-top second wedding she never had or the bar mitzvah reception for the son of some tech giant classmate of yours who bought Apple stock early and married late that you only managed to get on the list for because you ran into him at the airport while trying to hide the fact you were flying coach.

and as a bonus – this guy harasses you on the way in!

Of course, that doesn’t quite do it justice.

The Golden Globes are often the most entertaining of all old show biz awards shows because for some god forsaken reason they consistently get almost every major star in the industry to show up and give or get one of those quite surprisingly small mini-replicas of our great golden earth.

Although, I am glad that they got rid of that ugly marble podium

Though even that was tricky this year because nothing about our earth or the product produced during this time period seems to represent anything particularly golden, at least not in the traditional sense.

No, in real life we citizens of the world are holding our collective breaths about the possibility of real global warfare between the United States and Iran.  Or we are obsessing yet doing very little about climate change as this weekend we watched large swaths of the real Australian sky burn an ominous blood red thanks to over 146 (and counting) environmentally induced brush fires.

Don’t worry, I’ll recycle the empties

Neither the evening nor few of the nominated and/or winning films provided much release from those catastrophic doldrums either.  For instance, I very much enjoyed Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in…Hollywood and its meticulous recreation of a 1969 Los Angeles.   But its win as best comedy/musical, director, screenplay and supporting actor still can’t help but remind us all of one of the most grisly crimes of our 20th century, the Tate-LaBianca murders; that is even as it tries to rewrite that history to give its victims (and us) our much more well-deserved (well, preferred) Hollywood ending.

Are you sure this didn’t clinch it?

The best drama and director award for Sam Mendes’ 1917 forced us to look back in terrifying detail at a fictionalized version of fact-based events in and around the battlefields of WWI.   While extremely well made, this also doesn’t so much as provide hope for humanity but hold a magnifying glass up to ALL the battlefields of our past and, inevitably, remind us of all those likely to come in our future.

On the television side, a miniseries win for yet another recreation of the catastrophic – the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl – brilliantly reminded even the most casual of viewers that another nuclear winter could even today be just one ignored safety regulation away. Not to mention that the recognition of Succession as best TV drama brought home every cynically snowflake propaganda worry we all ever had about Fox News and the Murdoch family through its fictional, though albeit much more entertainingly awful doppelgängers, the Roys.

He did! He did!

There were some small breaths of encouragement. Taron Edgerton and Renee Zellweger won best acting awards for personifying the real-life, stage and singing facsimiles of Elton John and Judy Garland as they rose to fame, slid into addiction and, well at least in one case, managed to survive.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and her Fleabag season 2 gave some glamour and sympathy for those of us consistently making the wrong yet most human of choices even if it didn’t give us our full Hollywood happy Tarantino finale.  But perhaps that’s a clue to its popularity.  It doesn’t sugar coat our mistakes yet still shines some teeny tiny minuscule glint of light into all of our hopelessly aberrant collective futures.

Added bonus: Hot Priest!

Such was not the case with Globes’ host Ricky Gervais for most of the evening.  His shtick about being the worst possible choice to lead the festivities proved incredibly prescient given the world events of the preceding week and the jokes he chose to perform.

He opened by touting the Globes’ decision to this year serve an all-vegetarian menu but then chided its members for being, ahem, vegetables.  He attempted a timely jab at director Martin Scorsese for recently stating superhero movies were not cinema but more like amusement park rides he had no interest in and then cracked at the irony of the director’s statement because Scorsese was too short to actually meet the height requirement to ride in one. (Note: Har, Har?)

Me, during the opening monologue

Joaquin Phoenix, who won a Globe for playing the nihilistic title role in Joker, did try to be real and modest and world-aware.  Yet he managed to end his speech by saying it wasn’t enough to simply urge the Globes’ worldwide audience to “vote” their issues at the ballot box or voice concern about Australian climate change the way that others who came before him onstage had done. No, what he proclaimed from the podium was that what each one of the affluent in that room should do was to pledge to stop flying private jets to Palm Springs!  

Do not come for my Palm Springs trips!

Well, you gotta start somewhere, right?  And no, I am not paraphrasing.

Yes, of course, there were lovely moments.  Michelle Williams’ win for playing Broadway legend Gwen Verdon in Fosse/Verdon urging women to use their voices and votes to make the reality of the country better reflect its 51% female population.  Kate McKinnon’s tearful tribute to Ellen DeGeneres as the role model of what could be possible for her young lesbian self.  Tom Hanks on the true wonder of being a working actor who is nothing more than a small part of a larger team who must deliver in that moment to make each shot or the scene any good at all.

Everybody loves Hanks

Still, at the end of the evening one couldn’t help but think that our en masse feelings about the Globes/Globe, both in the ballroom and for those watching at home, were best captured by Mr. Gervais’ in his not very encouraging but thankfully closing line of the night to us:

Get drunk, take your drugs, f-k off.

This being a Hollywood production, needless to say that very last phrase was bleeped.

Complete list of the 2020 Golden Globe Winners

Sam Smith ft. Renee Zellwegger – “Get Happy” 

My Night with Miss Universe

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-12-20-03-pm

I spent the night with Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, twenty years ago. Relax, nothing happened. I’m gay and she’s straight. And truth be known, it was just the evening, other people were around. Still, that means I know her better than 99.9% of you out there.

It was at a very small party to watch the Golden Globes at a friend’s house in Los Angeles. She came with her then good friend, the actress Maria Conchita Alonso. There were no more than 10 people.

Here’s what I remember:

— We teased her that we were disappointed she didn’t bring her crown. She laughed and endured various crown and scepter jokes throughout the evening by people who assumed they were the first to tell them to her.   Sometimes she even laughed. Now that’s what I call a good sport, not a nightmare.

and gurl, that is SOME serious headgear

and gurl, that is SOME serious headgear

— Food was served and she wasn’t an eating machine, as Mr. Trump has told you. In fact, there was plenty left for everyone and even leftovers. Though there usually is when we Jews and gays attend and host dinner parties. We like to overdo. Not to perpetuate any more stereotypes here. (Note: I can say this because I’m gay AND Jewish).

Our queen knows

Our queen knows

— She wasn’t fat or even overweight, not that it matters.   In fact, what I very distinctly recall thinking was how refreshing it was that she didn’t seem anorexic or look like a lollipop. Midway through her reign, she looked radiant and healthy. Little did I know that she did (or would have) an eating disorder some years later caused by the unseemly pressures put on her to look like something other than her gorgeous self.   And yes, she was gorgeous. Stunning, in fact. And not merely in a worshipful, gay guy way. (Yeah, I know that’s what some of you are thinking). Still, I wish there was a straight guy there who could confirm this. But it’s true.

— She was very sweet and very young. We tend to forget when we see beautiful young women in person and off the TV or movie screen that they are not sophisticated, larger than life glamour gals but no more than versions of your younger sister or tomboy best friend from high school or college. She seemed so genuine and trusting, I thought. Though her English wasn’t great it was enough to get by and understand. Yet I worried about what it must be like for her to navigate the many letches of this business. My now husband told me he thought she could probably take care of herself. Little did we both know back then that she could, but that it would take time and she would pay a price for it.

We'll see who has the last laugh #getemgirl

We’ll see who has the last laugh #getemgirl

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to come from the middle of Venezuela, with English as your second language, and as a teenager (she won the Miss Universe contest at the age of nineteen) have to deal with the likes of the 50 year-old version of Donald Trump. Past being prologue, that must have been the real nightmare.

I have not seen Alicia in 20 years except on television, like you. She appears more mature and worldly but the essence of the gal I’ve recently remembered appears the same – polite, lovely, respectful and intelligent. The fact that she would not repeat the racial slurs she said she heard Mr. Trump utter all those decades ago in a recent interview is exactly in keeping with what I remember – a person who didn’t unnecessarily want to hurt others if she didn’t have to.

... and we'll leave that to the New Yorker #snicker

… plus what could she say that would be better than this? #snicker

On the other hand, I’m not (at all) surprised Mr. Trump has tried to smear her for coming forward nor am I shocked that the only sex tape that anyone can find as it relates to the issue of Donald vs. Alicia is a soft core Playboy video where Mr. Trump pours champagne from a bottle over a bunny logo. Classy, right? Not that I’d fault her or anyone performing consensual sex on camera. It’s the leering adult male gaze at young women more than half your age surrounding you and some New York limousines as you pour booze over an image of an animal made to look like a young woman that is the sleazy part that gets me.

Did you really think I would post a pic of Drumpf in a Playboy video? #JonHamm4Ever #myeyesarenotbleeding

Did you really think I would post a pic of Drumpf in a Playboy video? #JonHamm4Ever #myeyesarenotbleeding

In the Oscar-winning movie Little Miss Sunshine seven year old Olive, an aspiring pageant contestant and charismatic innocent, is shamed by her father early on for eating ice cream. Later, Olive asks Miss America if she eats ice cream and she very definitively says yes.   When Olive takes this as confirmation that her appearance is actually pageant-level okay, it worries the male members of her family, particularly at the end of the film when Olive is about to perform in front of the judges and audience because each is afraid their beloved Olive with be laughed off the stage in humiliation. At that point Olive’s Mom finally steps up and very wisely admonishes them to, let Olive be Olive. She might get hurt but at the end of the day the truth will win out if you’re being honest about who you are.

Let Olive be Olive

Let Olive be Olive

Alicia Machado has always known this and tried to live this way, from what I’ve seen up close and recently onscreen. That’s more than I cay say for Donald Trump, someone I’ve seen a lot of recently onscreen but admittedly have never spent an up-close evening with – and hopefully will never have to.