Oscar night low on star power

Hugh Jackman hard to resist as host

“IT’S A grand and glorious feeling. But I’ll be wearing the same size hat tomorrow,” said Clark Gable after winning an Oscar back in 1939.

Hmmm, maybe that’s what was missing from the Academy Awards on Sunday night — A galaxy of r-e-a-l-l-y big stars. Many of the still living and most celebrated were missing — Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Annette Bening, Mel Gibson, Denzel Washington, Cher, Bette Midler, Susan Sarandon, Cate Blanchett, Warren Beatty, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, Sean Connery, Jessica Lange, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Clint Eastwood — these are just a few of the truly famous off the top of my head. (And, of course, still no Lifetime Achievement for the biggest earner, most under-rated film star of the ’50s — Doris Day!)

But I did like having five famous presenters who had won the Oscar do the acting awards. That was interesting. And it gave us something to think about, trying to remember what role each had won for in the past. (And how they looked, of course.)

It is impossible to resist Hugh Jackman but his very informal off-hand nature may have thrown things off a bit in the beginning. It was a little too silly and awkward. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the white tie and tails number choreographed by Baz Luhrmann starring Jackman and Beyonce.

Also, I think 1) They should begin at 7 p.m. no matter what time it is in California; 2) Technical award people and everybody else should be warned on pain of death not to recite lists of names nobody ever heard of. This is a big moment; can’t you think of something creative and interesting to say?; and 3) Bring back the full screen simple presentation when showing us the dearly departed. It was terrible all that technical montage stuff that appeared as if they were intent on showing you how small they could make the pictures. At times I couldn’t even tell who the person was who had gone on to that great movie theater in the sky.

And, oh yes, the camera work was generally atrocious. During the “dear departed” sequence they kept cutting away to show you Queen Latifah’s dress. And when Sean Penn is going to be embraced by his five famous peers after he wins, they cut away and show you a mass shot of the theater again.

Many insiders had been wondering if Kate Winslet would include the movie producer extraordinare, Harvey Weinstein, in her thanks when she accepted her Oscar. She didn’t, although the Oscar expert, Harvey, worked tirelessly to help secure the win for Kate in his film “The Reader.” I’m not surprised. On more than one occasion recently, Kate has made it quite clear that she is “not Harvey’s creature!”

COMING TO New York — none other than Bryan Cranston on March 1-6 for the second season of his amazing show “Breaking Bad,” to be seen March 8. I just can’t wait to meet this unassuming actor who is so great as a guy dying of lung cancer, who starts a career as a methamphetamine maker to provide for his family. Does it sound crazy? It does and is one of the most insane, funniest, most heart-riddled and tender shows AMC — home of the fabulous, cynical, “Mad Men” — has ever dreamed up. It makes one wonder, watching this and other shows like HBO’s “Big Love” and “Entourage” and Showtime’s “United States of Tara,” why the four major networks can’t produce something half as good as these mature, unusual series. (No, they are too busy hanging onto the reality TV coattail.) Bryan Cranston makes the unlikeliest criminal I’ve ever seen, but he’s such a good actor you buy his every wacky move. He directed the season premiere of “Breaking Bad” and you are going to hear more about him in the future.

WHAT WILL happen in the feature sequel to “Sex and the City?” Of course, Carrie and Mr. Big will probably separate and divorce and there might even be children involved. They say Sarah Jessica Parker is already worried that this big successful franchise (the original made almost $400 million worldwide) won’t work in an economic downturn. She told Tim Walker: “There is a lot that we have to think about because times are very different.” All in all, she doesn’t want to be downbeat and feels people may still be in the mood for a romp, even with Recession looming. Screwball comedy anyone?

ESTELLE PARSONS is only 81 years old and the toast of Broadway. Her star-turn as the pill-popping matriarch Violet Weston in the hit play “August: Osage County” has been lauded. Now the feisty octogenarian is re-uniting with Arthur Penn, the man who directed her Oscar-winning performance in the classic 1967 movie, “Bonnie and Clyde.” He’ll be presenting Parsons with a “Woman of Achievement” award at the Women’s Project Gala on March 3. Could her co-stars Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway and Gene Hackman also turn up? That’d be nice.

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