BAYHAM: Oscars Clip Two Wiseguys

How can you tell someone doesn’t watch the Oscars?

Because they’ll tell you all about how they don’t.

And to some degree I can’t blame people having that mindset.

The Academy Awards is the quintessential self-celebration of America’s popular culture elite who preen across a bank of television cameras in designer gowns and opulent jewelry that cost far more than some people’s mode of transportation while lecturing how the great unwashed MAGA masses are their aesthetic and moral inferiors for not caring about the same causes and constituencies they do.

There was a time when Hollywood had a style and glamor that was the envy of the world; it’s what people living in the far distant corners of the planet thought of America.  Now the Oscars have become an advertisement for hypocrisy, vanity, and crass virtue signaling.

If you don’t believe me, just surf on the Instagram accounts of some of the celebrities who attended.

The very purpose of the awards show, a recognition of artistic achievement in film,  has been lost in an avalanche of high-end swag bags and exclusive parties.

And that’s a shame because whatever you feel about show business, movies are truly magical; they convey stories through the use of actors, special effects, brilliantly crafted scripts, music, set designs and construction, editing, costumes, and many other professions and unique skills.

Next time you watch a film make a point of sitting through the credits at the end and count every category of labor and then the workers under each grouping that were utilized to create what you just casually viewed.

And that’s not factoring in uncredited people such as extras who have to do perform the same mundane action repeatedly to populate the background of film scenes, just without lines or higher compensation.

The amount of fingerprints tangentially left on the finished product range in the thousands.

But the essential element in any film is the actor.  For those who disdain the trade as nothing more than made to look beautiful people repeating memorized lines knows nothing about that particular art.

And if I didn’t appreciate the degree of talent one needed to possess as an actor before, I got a quick and memorable education the first time I had dinner with my friend Dee Dee’s thespian husband Paul Sorvino.

For forty five minutes Big Paulie ran through the various roles he played in some of his more notable films while performing the characters’ voices and mannerisms in rapid fire succession.

Watching and listening Sorvino transition between a charlatan evangelical preacher from “Oh God!” to a spot-on Henry Kissinger (whose voice is so difficult to mimic that not even the king of impressionism Rich Little could do it) in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” was a thing of wonder.

A few months after Paulie’s death I was shocked to hear Vincent Pastore, who played the role of Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero, mocking Sorvino’s professionalism as an actor during a Sopranos question and answer session was truly strange and drew immediate rebukes from his Sopranos co-stars Steve Schirripa (Bobby Bacala) and Michael Imperioli (Chrissy Moltisanti).


That a man who once portrayed a “gaba-ghoul” had the stones to speak ill of a renaissance man like Sorvino (who was an accomplished chef, singer,  sculptor, and painter as well) was astounding.

Yet a far greater indignity would come for Sorvino in the recent Academy Awards broadcast during the three minute “In Memoriam” picture flash tribute marking the passing of individuals who made contributions to the movie industry in their own special ways, including the stars in front the camera lens and behind the scenes figures of low public profile yet high esteem within the industry.

Paul Sorvino, one of the stars of the iconic mob film Goodfellas and having appeared in over forty other movies, was left on the proverbial cutting room floor, and relegated to a QR code mass grave that included the likes of Tony Sirico (best known for his Paulie Walnuts role in Sopranos though no stranger to the silver screen having appeared in seven Woody Allen movies including Mighty Aphrodite- which landed Paulie’s daughter Mira an Academy Award), Anne Heche, Tom Sizemore, and a few other actors of notoriety who were inexplicably left on the wrong side of the red rope line.

Sorvino’s widow Dee Dee and daughter Mira vented their disgust at the omission along with a number of entertainment commentators, and rightly so.

The raison d’etre for the Academy Awards broadcast is to celebrate artists in their circle and yet men and women who invested decades of their life dedicated to the profession of entertaining the public at a high level didn’t even have their contributions and memories crammed into a literal “blink and you missed it” phone booth of a tribute section in a program that ran three and a half hours.

Ironically Sorvino’s funeral was conducted at the Hollywood Museum, just across the street from the Dolby Theatre where this year’s Academy Awards show was held.

Why Sorvino and Sirico were deemed unworthy of due recognition in the Memoriam is a matter of conjecture.  Regardless of intent the “clipping” was obnoxious, unprofessional, and underscored how the Oscars have become a celebration of celebrity and not the art and artists.



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