Bill Condon and Laurence Mark will be closely scrutinized for this Sunday's Oscar telecast, but the producers have already exhibited one bit of questionable judgment: Wasting time before the awards having lunch with the Los Angeles Times' resident pompous blowhard, Patrick Goldstein.

Goldstein sounded his latest "Oh no, the Oscar telecast might stink" alarms in his most recent column, while casually mentioning that Condon and Mark had lunch with him the other day.

Really? Like, they didn't have better things to do?

Remember, this is the same guy that couldn't even be bothered to actually sit through the 2008 awards. Or to quote from Goldstein's post-Oscar column last year: "Here's how we watched the Oscars in my household: We TiVo-ed the
broadcast, came back from Little League practice, hopped in bed with
some snacks and zapped through the commercials, the musical numbers and
most of the craft awards, giving our full attention to (Jon) Stewart's
routines, the clip compilations and the big awards and acceptance
speeches, starting with best animated feature. Total elapsed time: one
hour, 45 minutes, tops."

Wow, talk about commitment. And this is supposedly the Times' ace movie columnist. Seriously, he couldn't skip Little League practice (at 5 p.m. on a Sunday, by the way? Wonder when they play the actual games) on Oscar night?

Granted, I might be a little extra sensitive since Goldstein continues to deride studios for spending any money on Oscar campaigning — as if "For your consideration" ads are especially unsavory compared to Hollywood's other ego-stroking activities — at a time when both my newspaper and his are struggling in the face of cutbacks and a dismal economy. Besides, lobbying for awards has been part of a delicate eco-system that actually supports the kind of prestige movies that Goldstein professes to care about. (For another take, see A.O. Scott's New York Times piece.)

Meanwhile, the Times keeps shrinking — a far cry from those days when the paper was so fat that the Sunday edition was reputed to have squashed a small dog, or so the story (likely apocryphal) went. Today's Times would have a hard time mashing a slug.

At any rate, I'll be reviewing Sunday's show, and I'm going into that process with an open mind. As for Goldstein, if he wants the full, unbridled experience, here's a crazy thought: Try watching the whole thing.

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