GOOD MORNING and congrats Oscar winners: Well, it’s on to the Shrine next year. Gil Cates said he’s concerned about this year’s reviews and numbers before he makes a commitment about wanting to do the Oscars again. But the consensus of opinion from those of us who sat in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and watched the 66th Academy Awards is that he should and that Whoopi Goldberg should be the emcee again. The show was done with as much dispatch as the Oscars could be done , with humor both lighthearted and incisive, not too many in jokes (in as in industry), and — there was nothing to worry about insofar as untoward remarks … Just before the show went on, ABC’s Standards & Practices boss Susan Gutterman went over Whoopi’s speeches … The entrance into the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion this year was even more crowded than usual, and the police were besieging me to urge the audience to enter the theater in time for the show to start. It was touch and go. And one can only worry about what will happen at the Shrine — as you remember, there was an enormous traffic foul-up a few years back that caused many ladies to run barefoot for blocks in order to get into the auditorium in time … You could have guessed that Steven Spielberg and “Schindler’s List” were going to be winners, judging by the constant solid reaction to them with each reference to the movie as the show progressed. However, after “The Piano’s” Holly Hunter won for actress, Anna Paquin for supporting actress and Jane Campion for original screenplay, and when Liam Neeson did not win for actor, the tension mounted in the auditorium as Clint Eastwood arrived to make the best director award … And talking about Clint — Frances Fisher, on Eastwood’s arm, showed me she was wearing a diamond and emerald ring on the proper finger of her left hand. “Are you married?” I asked her. “Not yet,” she smiled.
THE AUDIENCE GOT WITH THE OSCARS from the top of the show, with the Chuck Workman and Bernadette Peters “Putting it Together” number followed by the first arrival of Whoopi backed by the Triumphant March. Whoopi’s references to Heidi Fleiss, Jack Nicholson, Jimmy Caan and the L.A. Times Calendar section being appropriate for the animals backstage, even her suggestion that Mrs. Bobbitt should meet Bob Dole, met with laughs from the industry crowd, who were a little surprised the remarks had gotten by the censor. But maybe they were adlibbed. But they weren’t so shocking as to raise any eyebrows … Tommy Lee Jones was also a telegraphed winner by the audience reaction to clips of his performance. His kind remarks about the non-nominated Harrison Ford –“I thank the man who needs no support”– went a long way with the crowd. And yes, Jones did shave his head for his role as Ty Cobb … When I introduced Deborah Kerr to the fans in the stands, she was as emotional as she was when accepting her honorary award from Glenn Close … One of the biggest hands from the fans in the stands went to Nancy Kerrigan when I introduced her. She said she didn’t know about any future showbiz career, but was thrilled to be in the showbiz milieu. And when I introduced little Anna Paquin and asked her if she planned any more movies, she answered, in her darling little New Zealand voice, “I haven’t given any thought to it yet.”
THE AUDIENCE IN THE PAVILION was entertained and fascinated during the commercials by the movement of the extraordinary geometric set changes, designed by Roy Christopher … You had to be in the audience to fully appreciate the creative ballet by Debbie Allen, with the 16 international dancers to the nominated scores. The audience also enjoyed the change of pace with Keith Carradine’s warm rendition of “With a Wink and a Smile”… Although the ovations to Spielberg were enormous, the standing ovation to Paul Newman was equally well received as Tom Cruise called him “Our Own” Paul Newman, referring to Newman’s Own products. In a show business world of exaggerations and excesses, the modesty of Newman in accepting the honor for his unprecedented contributions was so typical of this gentleman … A surprise standing ovation was the one given to Bruce Springsteen. It’s been a long time since one has been accorded a song and a songwriter …”Dave” screenwriting nominee Gary Ross included among his guests Dee Dee Meyers, President Clinton’s press secretary. Ross, you recall, contributed his writing skills to the Clinton campaign … Tom Hanks’ standing ovation in the theater was equaled by the enthusiasm outside during my fan poll on their favorite actor. He added to it with his touching and powerful speech on his winning the Oscar … So all in all, congrats and on to Oscar 67.
“YOU’LL BE GLAD Tuesday you don’t have to go through this again,” Clint Eastwood, last year’s Oscar winner, told Spielberg …”Schindler’s List’s” Embeth Davidtz, who plays Helen Hirsch, arrived from South Africa and “Murder in the First” with Christian Slater in time to attend the Oscars with the “List” “family”… Billy Crystal was invited to the Rob Reiners’ home for their party, but as noted here earlier, Crystal was a homebody. Earlier Monday, Billy had given Oscar tickets to 13-year-old John West, a leukemia sufferer, here via the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Crystal met with the youngster at his office and gifted him with movie (“City Slickers”) souvenirs … Among those at the Reiners’ party, Jane Fonda and Ted Turner, who now own Castle Rock. Turner’s group met with the Castle Rock’ers on a retreat in Florida last week. Castle Rock’s Alan Horn and his wife earlier weekended with the Turners at their Montana ranch. Turner and Castle Rock are now looking forward to 12-15 movies a year … I talked with Oscar show director Jeff Margolis in the control truck, where he told me it’s the same one that was used in N.Y. for the Grammys. When the earthquake struck Sunday, they were worried they’d lose computerized programming, as did the Grammys during a N.Y. power letdown. But the Oscars were spared Sunday … The toughest secret to keep is the Oscar winners. Price Waterhouse’s Frank Johnson and Dan Lyle had known the final tabulations since last Friday, when the results were placed in an office safe — behind three more safeguards. Despite the duo’s attendance at weekend activities plus Oscar rehearsals at which they note all the entrances and departures of winners, the duo never let slip any hint of things to come. I know — I tried … Sharon Stone winged in Sunday from the Florida location of “The Specialist,” which followed one day after she wound “The Quick and the Dead” and she’s got a query as to her closing day on “Specialist” to start another pic on the following week. She’s back in Florida this morning … The global interest in Oscars increases — Hungarian TV was on hand for the first time, interviewing participants — including yours truly …”Grease” director Randal Kleiser tossed a party for Stockard Channing, who played Rizzo in the movie. Among those there, “Grease” producer Allan Carr, co-stars Didi Conn (“Frenchie”) and Jeff Conaway (“Kenickie”). Carr and Thom Mount are reading “Wait Until Dark” for B’way and will offer limited run deals to — Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson! … Over in Paris at 2 ayem, Michael Bass held an Oscar party.