Like anything else, it isn’t until the Golden Globes are gone that you truly appreciate them. The SAGs are kind of a bore in comparison. There are a few reasons for this. First off, it doesn’t try to be as glitzy. It tries to be classy, but not glitzy. It’s less about the glamour of the event and more about the actual work. Imagine that.
The second reason is that the nominees are voted in by their peers. There’s less ass-kissing involved. That means the winners are more legitimate than something as vague as The Foreign Press. My next door neighbor could be a foreign press voter for all I know.
The first “Holy S#!t!” moment of the night just dropped. William Shatner is in the building! Everyone in the Shrine Auditorium had better bow before this god! I am not even kidding here.
Tony Parker is with Eva Longoria. Another reason to dislike the French.
The show begins…
The show just starts and the first thing you throw at us is Randy Quaid? No, no, this is all wrong. They’re trying to make people watch this, right? I kid about Randy Quaid but the truth is he’s a bit of a gem. Anyone who has seen Caddyshack 2 knows what I’m talking about. Quaid gives a little inspirational speech from his dinner seat on how he first took a bus to Hollywood and the place where he was dropped off as a youngster is the same place where he has a Hollywood star now. Wait a god-damn second… Randy Quaid has a star? They’re really throwing those around these days, huh?
There are a few more of these mini-testimonials. I’m already bored out of my mind. The whole thing is just poorly conceived, like they just thought it up five minutes before airtime. I begin flipping the channel. On TBS, the same thing is on. This can’t be… I flip the channel as beads of sweat form around my forehead, wondering if I’m trapped in SAG Award Show hell. But it’s far, far worse than I could have imagined… Women’s College Basketball: North Carolina at Duke (Is it now gauche to make fun of women’s basketball? I’m getting that sense. I’m always late on these things). I flip the channel again and it’s the “700 Club”. Thank God! This is usually good for a couple of laughs. Unfortunately, it’s a telethon and those are usually more of a mixed bag. I flip again and see Kobe Bryant ignore an open Lamar Odom and drive up the lane passed the entire Detroit Pistons team for a hard-fought lay-up. Odom points at Kobe like “Good job”. As Kobe winks at him and runs back on defense, Odom breaks out a wrench hidden beneath his shorts and strikes Kobe in the back of his skull. The crowd goes wild. The benches clear, unsure why. Odom is dragged away by security and the arena cheers are deafening. Bryant is out cold, his left leg twitching. Satisfied, I feel like I have enough energy to continue on with the show. Imagined or not, I flip back to TNT:
Sandra Bullock comes out to present the first Best Cast Ensemble Nominee, Crash. She’s wearing what appears to be a shower curtain but still looks pretty damn good. Few people could pull that off. Charlize, Bert (from Bert and Ernie) and now Bullock.
Eva Longoria is escorted on stage with Sean Hayes, America’s favorite gay, to introduce the Outstanding Female Actor in a Drama. He isn’t even looking at her. That’s fair. Tony Parker still looks like he wants to dribble Hayes’ head all across the stage. Sandra Oh wins again. Fellow nominee Patricia Arquette looks like she just swallowed a cat.
Felicity Huffman and Ted Danson come out for the Best Actor in a Drama award. Danson looks frighteningly close to a suave Frankenstein’s monster. Which pretty much means he can play John Kerry in an ABC special if he wanted to easy.
I’d like to express amused shock at the resurgence of nominee Patrick Dempsey. I have been arguing for years that Can’t Buy Me Love was far, far superior to She’s All That. Note to Freddie Prinze Jr.: there’s hope.
Kiefer Sutherland wins. I have something to admit and I want everyone to remain calm when I say it. Stay in your seats and try to control yourselves. I have never seen an episode of “24“. I have the first season on DVD, though, so be patient with me. Kiefer gives a solid speech. The guy has turned into a real class act, kudos to him.
Peter Graves and Barbara Bain from the “Mission: Impossible” television show crawl their way on stage. Graves can’t read the teleprompter. Neither can Babs. Their eyes don’t work so well. Everyone laughs at them mercilessly. They’re forced to come up with “witty” banter. It gets real awkward. The crowd continues to laugh. Laughing at old people. Let’s make fun of the handicap next!
Graves and Bain are apparently here to do more than make us laugh, they’re here to present Best Ensemble for a TV Series. The first thing that strikes me is that G.W. Baily is still acting! He’s on that show “The Closer“. Where have I been? How could I have missed this? Everyone who is anyone is familiar with Baily’s watershed Lt. Harris from Police Academy. You can break down people into two basic categories: You’re either a Lt. Mauser guy (who took over asshole duties from Baily’s Harris in Police Academy 2 and 3), or a Lt. Harris guy and I am definitely a Lt. Harris guy. I just think Mahoney bounced off of him a little better. The good thing about Mauser was that he always had the loveable goofball Lt. Proctor as his flunky. But when that intense demand for Police Academy 4 came around, the producers came up with a brilliant masterstroke: team up Lt. Harris with Proctor. The result, as you well know, was comedic history.
Chris Cooper comes out for the Supporting Actress in Film nominees. One of my very favorite things to do is listen to who gets the most cheers and “Whoo!”s when their names are announced. I’ve been doing this since middle school. Parents always know how popular their kid is at school by the amount of “Whoo!”s their child gets. Out of the nominees, Rachel Weisz was clearly the winner on the Audience Cheer Barometer. This should mean she gets it. And she does! Coincidence? I think not. I couldn’t be happier. I’ve already expressed my adoration for The Constant Gardener. Bravo.
Behold! Shatner! This is so fitting. Captain Kirk comes out to do a segment on the trials of commercial acting. Those Priceline commercials sure look labored so I guess he’s got a point. There’s a poor bastard being interviewed about how he had to wear a grape outfit (like from Fruit of The Looms or something). Another guy being interviewed tells how difficult it is to respond to the following piece of direction, “Tom, I need you to be a bit more… yellow.”
Naveen Andrews and Patricia Arquette come out for the Female Actor in a Comedy Series Award. Arquette talks a little like she’s a robot. Andrews speaks like he’s a Brit. Wait, he is a Brit. Does that mean she’s a robot???
Huffman nearly breaks the Audience Cheer Barometer when her name is announced. And wouldn’t you know it, she wins! There are two things I’ve learned in my life while watching TV now. First, Germans love David Hasselhoff. Two: The Audience Cheer Barometer is infallible. Huffman gets on stage nailing the nervous acceptance speech she’d been perfecting the last few days. Dude, I didn’t know she was married to William H. Macy! Good for him, nice to know he’s getting laid.
Best Actor in a Comedy Series is next. Sean Hayes, bravely playing a completely non-stereotypical gay man is nominated. Just what kind of direction is the guy getting? “Sean, give me more flaming! More flames! No, that’s not enough!” He gets hella-cheers. And Hayes wins for “Will & Grace“. He thanks Ang Lee for taking a chance on him. That’s cute. In his speech, Hayes also talks about the risks of playing a gay character, slyly mocking Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger. It’s actually pretty funny. Where’s that sort of writing on “Will & Grace”?
I sit back and envy my homeboy Laremy. He’s doing a running diary. A few clever lines, time-stamped and he’s out. I’m stuck here for a little while longer and my stuff isn’t even any better than his. It’s quality, not quantity people.
Ellen Pompeo and Jeremy Piven come out for Best Ensemble in a Comedy. I say “Boston Legal” should win just for giving William Shatner work. “Desperate Housewives” wins. Some kid from the show speaks on behalf of the cast. He’s like 14 or something. Bad move. The thank you speech ends on an uncomfortable note. I can’t even explain it. I don’t want to either.
The President of SAG, Alan Rosenberg, makes it on stage to salute this year’s noms. I don’t get it. I’ve never heard of him. Dude, you’re the President of the Guild and you can’t even get yourself a role? He should be fired for poor leadership.
The cameraman cuts to the ravishing Ellen Pompeo for the 82nd time tonight. The world doesn’t complain, and I sure as hell don’t either.
Dakota Fanning comes out holding a Shirley Temple doll. The resemblance is disarming. I didn’t even know Shirley Temple was still alive! Fanning does a great job as a presenter. She’s actually better than almost everyone else that has preceded her. Thinking about it is starting to scare me.
They show clips of Shirley Temple films. It suddenly occurs to me Temple is the anti-Olsen Twin. She had an empire just like they did, but I doubt either of them will be Ambassador to Czechoslovakia! Eat that Olsen Twins!!! Jamie Lee Curtis comes out to introduce Shirley Temple (her real name is Shirley Temple-Black, but who is she kidding?). Curtis gives a really nice intro and Temple comes, barely, on stage. The ovation is huge. The Audience Cheer Barometer might not work after this one. Temple’s speech is short and sweet. A true American Icon.
Catherine Keener and Philip Seymour Hoffman come on stage to present Capote as nominee for Best Cast Ensemble. I got nothing here. I just remembered I won a DVD from my buddy Les in a heads-up game of poker (when we run out of cash, me and my friends bet on each other’s DVDs. It’s not sick if it doesn’t hurt anyone else). I won the 25th Hour but left it at his place. Have to remember to pick that one up, quick. My friends are shady. “What? I thought you took it?”
The beautiful Ziyi Zhang introduces Best Male Supporting Actor. Paul Giamatti wins. Couldn’t happen to a better guy. Loved him in Cinderella Man. In his speech, Giamatti says “It’s a hell of a thing” no less than 567 times. His speech is one of the best of the night. Here’s a gem: “The best thing about acting is hanging around the Kraft Service table with other actors… and donuts… and as you can see, I eat a lot of them… I’d like to thank my fellow actors for just shooting the shit [with me]. They’re weird, interesting people, actors, and I’m proud to be among them.” Good stuff.
Samuel L. Jackson introduces the obligatory Dead People Segment. Damnit. The music and the shots of the actors… it gets me every time. Let’s all hope Gilligan is smoking a doobie up there with Scotty from “Star Trek“. On a side note, I’d like to point out that the Jolly Green Giant is dead. Finally, something I wouldn’t have ever known if I hadn’t tuned in.
Kerry Washington and Jamie Foxx come out. Foxx fumbles through his intro and makes them repeat the intro music as he and Washington take a few steps back and walk back up to the mike. But Foxx screws it up again and the music has to be queued again… wait a second…
And nothing happens? Suddenly, the show cuts to David Strathairn who is out to introduce Good Night, and Good Luck for Best Cast Ensemble. What happened to Foxx and Washington? What planet am I on right now? Somebody needs to fill me in on this one…
Amy Adams and Benjamin Bratt introduce Best Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries. Bratt has that wary “I used to date Julia Roberts and now am on a TV show with Dennis Hopper” look on his face. S. Epatha Merkerson wins for “Lackawanna Blues” again. She tears up in her acceptance speech and then delivers a whopper, “And I have to say thank you to my divorce lawyer!” The crowd breaks out in laughter. Epatha Merkerson then proceeds to laugh like Cobra Commander did on “G.I. Joe”. Everyone’s laughter turns into gross shock. People begin shifting in their seats.
William H. Macy and Angela Bassett come on stage for Best Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries. Paul Newman wins for “Empire Falls” but he’s hiding under a table somewhere again. Macy says he’s keeping it in the meantime. He may mean it.
The show is really starting to slow down and it was already on a turtle’s pace. Thankfully, the SAGs are a shorter show than the Oscars or Globes. But that doesn’t tear me away from my clicker. Over at MSNBC there is breaking news that 70 Canadian miners are trapped in by a fire. Canada, stop trying to be America. Enough already (It’s now being reported that they are all safe). Hockey is ours now!! Muaghhahaha!
Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal pimp Brokeback Mountain for Best Cast Ensemble. Ledger is laughing like a fool through the entire intro. Somebody check that man’s pockets!
Female Actor in a Leading Role is introduced by Pierce Brosnan. Reese Witherspoon wins for Walk The Line. It’s now inevitable, Reese is taking the gold this year. Forget what I said in my column about Huffman gaining steam… this is it. Can’t say I have a big problem with that. Reese gives a sweet, if very long, acceptance speech. Either her chin is growing by the second or I need to eat something sweet fast.
Hilary Swank is out to name the Best Male Actor in a Leading Role. David Strathairn gets the loudest cheers of the night. The Barometer is infallible! But Philip Seymour Hoffman is heavily favored… what could this mean? Hoffman wins for Capote! Wow, if I can’t trust the Audience Cheer Barometer, what can I trust? I don’t know what to do with myself. I may have to walk the earth or something. But wait a minute, Hoffman gives a special shot-out to Strathairn… ah, I begin to reason, it all makes sense now. Hoffman understands he had to give a small sacrifice to the Audience Cheer Barometer gods.
My right eye is starting to twitch.
Morgan Freeman mercifully on stage to put everyone out of their misery. He is like an angel sent from Heaven. He announces the Best Cast Ensemble winner… It’s Crash. Who didn’t see this coming? Anyway, bless you Morgan Freeman!
So that’s it. What did we learn? Well, we learned Giamatti and Clooney have an interesting race ahead of them. We learned Reese seems to have locked it up. Hoffman locked it up after his Golden Globe win. We learned Strathairn’s peers love him but won’t vote for him. We learned Weisz looks to be a clear favorite. We learned the great G.W. Baily is around and kickin’. We learned the Jolly Green Giant ain’t. More importantly, we learned that once again the Golden Globes provide something the SAG awards never could: better material.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? is now on TBS. There is a God!