The Contenders

Still the same old story, the fight for turf and glory

Nothing brings out the unique nature of Hollywood’s trademark blending of the sublime and absurd more than the Oscar race. What started modestly 70 years ago at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel has turned into a global media event. The coverage accorded what is ostensibly an evening of honors for film work is closer in scope and spirit to team reporting a Middle East border skirmish.

While the satellites circle the City of Angels relaying images of Armani gowns and Zegna tuxes back to the folks in Istanbul, the local showbiz addicts fix themselves on minutiae while the kudos bookies fill their tip sheets with Oscar trivia. Perhaps those of us at the Bible of Showbiz should stay above the fray and remain fixed only on the facts, but we’d be missing the fun and frenzy of the horse race of the year. Hence the focus of this year’s Daily Variety anniversary issue: “The Contenders.”

Since the halls of Daily Variety are filled with the same conversations devoted to Oscar prognosticating, handicapping and debating as most office hallways, we figured we might as well share the results of those shouting matches with our readership. We’ve also used the contentiousness of the Oscar battles as a launchpad to discuss the latest scraps over contested ground in the fields of finance, agentry, television, music, high tech, et al. Just as the Oscar race theoretically celebrates the best, while also revealing the beast that is Hollywood, “The Contenders” touts the enormous accomplishments of the past year and simultaneously uncovers the heat of the chase and the thrill of the hunt for showbiz primacy.

In the town where, as Woody Allen famously observed, “It’s about dogs not returning other dogs’ phone calls,” this is our year-end phone call announcing who’s on first and who’s trying like hell to take their parking space.

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