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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

March 13, 2006

This year's Oscars, as usual, happened on a Sunday night and I was up at the
cottage. The Red Dot, the local hangout, decided to celebrate with an Oscar
Night Party, requesting everyone to come to watch the event on the big
screen dressed as their favorite movie star.

So I watched the first part of the show surrounded by a faux Ann Margaret,
Michael Jackson, a couple that I think were Oliver and Hardy, a Professor
Higgins from MY FAIR LADY [liberties were taken], and a whole variety of
other faux celebrities of every movie era. It was fun and festive.

From some reason, the Oscars seemed more important this year. Was it that
idiosyncratic films like BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and CRASH were up for Best
Picture? Was it because the nominees for Best Actor and Actress were among
the most likable group in a long time? That they were nominated for really
interesting roles in interesting films? Felicity Huffman was nominated for
playing a transsexual in a film called TRANSMERICA, about a man becoming a
woman crossing the country with her/his hustler son. It has never been more
offbeat than that.

It may be that I was upstate and someone was throwing a party and I was
invited and was spending time with people I liked and with whom I could
laugh. Picking up this week's PEOPLE Magazine, I surrendered to endless
pages of photos of gowns and jewels, tuxes and titillating tales, breathless
accounts of how stars spend the day prepping, followed by equally breathless
accounts of the PAAAAAAARties.

Because the films were idiosyncratic, the awards were interesting; the show
was not. It rather felt like a long commercial for the movie going
experience, a not unsurprising move for an industry - like many another
media - under pressure from the changing technological landscape.

Jon Stewart was fine as the host though not stellar. [Where is Johnny
Carson when you need him?] A few of the speeches were heartfelt and moving.
Thank you, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Reese Witherspoon [once she had
finished thanking everyone].

It was surprising to discover Robert Altman had had a heart transplant and I
loved the introduction of him by Lili Tomlin and Meryl Streep, capturing the
offbeat layering of his films.

Beneath the surface, though, I sensed something was not quite right. It was
as if the ceremony was a balloon that hadn't quite been filled. In the
effort to keep it moving, the producers [shame on you, Gil Gates] kept music
playing during most if not all the acceptance speeches, devaluing the best
moments of the show, the words from the people whose hard work was being
honored and who were trying to speak a bit of their hearts.

George Clooney was, perhaps, most memorable - and most dignified. He
reminded us that in 1939, it was the Academy of Motion Picture Arts &
Sciences that gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar for her role in GONE WITH THE
WIND, at a time when most African-Americans were relegated to the back of
the bus and separate movie theatres, reminding us that being liberal is not
always a bad thing - and can be a harbinger of things that should be and
will be.

That, in fact, is the moment I remember most, Mr. Clooney's speech, the
dignity with which he gave it, which cut through the glitter and the hype,
the handbags and the hyperbole, the gowns and jewels, make up and award
madness, a simple statement, reminding us of the dignity of each of us, even
when not yet recognized by all.

In Memoriam:

Gordon Parks, like Hattie McDaniel, helped push forward the opportunities
for African-Americans by doing brilliant work, giving back and going on
until the day came when he was not just the best African American
photographer but one of the best photographers of all.

Dana Reeve passed away from lung cancer at the achingly young age of 44,
widow of Christopher Reeve, and an example to many of love, dignity,
stalwartness and fortitude. From all accounts, at no point did she surrender
to the terrible things happening around her and to her, rather she simply
continued putting one foot in front of another, doing her best to make
things better for those she loved and the world in which she lived.

In mourning her, one individual in USA Today quoted Edna St. Vincent
Millay's line, "Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world."

Gone, too, is Kirby Puckett, the Minnesota Twin who played every game as if
it was his last, a loss I'm sure felt much more keenly by my brother who
lives in Minnesota than I. Still, he was a man who inspired and is, like
Dana Reeve, gone far too soon from a world in which he was making a