Thursday 14 December 2017

Colbert ups cringe factor at Wilde Irish Oscar night


Honoree Stephen Colbert poses at the Oscar Wilde Awards at director J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot production company in Santa Monica, California (REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian)
Honoree Stephen Colbert poses at the Oscar Wilde Awards at director J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot production company in Santa Monica, California (REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian)

Orla Healy

Someone might want to do something about our image in LA which - if speeches delivered by actress Carrie Fisher and political satirist Stephen Colbert last week are anything to go by - might benefit from a dust-off.

The high-profile duo, honoured at the US-Ireland Alliance's 10th annual Oscar Wilde Awards in Santa Monica on Thursday night, were undoubtedly trying their best to be charming in accepting their awards. But their words, playful as they may have been, weren't exactly the stuff Failte Ireland campaigns are made of.

"The Irish are known for many things: the potato famine, drinking, avoidance of birth control, drinking songs," said Fisher in what Variety later described as an example of "Irish trivia". Colbert, who recently signed off from Comedy Central in preparation for the taking over David Letterman's late-night seat, went one - or two - better.

"It's so fitting to be here to accept this award because when one thinks of Ireland, you think LA, where the grass is brown, the sheep have implants and the people starve on purpose. The potato famine was the original Atkins diet," began the 50-year-old, whose ancestors hail from Tyrone and Roscommon, before adding, "Too soon?"

And he didn't stop there. "The US-Ireland Alliance was formed in 1998, and since then, the euro has been introduced, we have Rovers on Mars, we have brought righteous justice to Osama bin Laden and anyone who says the US-Ireland had nothing to do with those things, I will fight you! And no, I will not fight you because I'm Irish, that is racist! I will fight you because I am drunk. And no, I am not drunk because I am Irish, that is racist!"

Mercifully, Colbert cut the cringe-factor when accepting his award. "There is no other award being given out in Los Angeles this week named after an Oscar, I would want more than this," he said graciously, mischievously adding, "I'm gratified to finally be recognised for all I have done for the Irish people. I'm not sure what any of that is, but now that I have the award, I know I can stop." Yes, please.

And the Oscar goes to...

Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), JK Simmons (Whiplash), and Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) are set to pick up Oscar statuettes tonight - if the unruly mix of US bookies, movie critics and industry pundits monitoring the action turn out to be right.

Not so clear: which movie will win for Best Picture and Best Director, the categories generating the most chatter over the last few days as a surge of support appeared to push Clint Eastwood's war drama American Sniper into play against top contenders Birdman and Boyhood.

Eastwood and Bradley Cooper, however, aren't the only bold-faced names willing a major upset. First-time Academy Awards host, Neil Patrick Harris, says he's praying someone, make that anyone, does something totally mad. "That's why you want to watch the Oscars," Harris told reporters last week. "We hope for things to happen... The crazier the better. Nothing would make me happier than something as random as say Kanye West deciding to participate in the show in some way..."

What's not going to happen, according to Hollywood's psychic Thomas Jon, is a repeat of Jennifer Lawrence's meme-worthy double face-plant, an unlikely occurrence he correctly forecast before each event. "I don't see any falls this year, but one woman in red can't really walk well in her chosen dress," predicts the medium, who also foresees Julianne Moore (in Tom Ford) and Eddie Redmayne (in silver!) ruling the red carpet.

Jon's most fun prophecy ("I see a famous male presenter with dark hair up on stage and tripping because he's intoxicated") spawned speculation that John Travolta might pull a repeat of his faux pas last year (when he mangled Idina Menzel's name into "Adele Dazeem"). But reports, perhaps oiled by his powerful pr machine, claim the shamed Pulp Fiction star (whose cluelessness earned him a verb "to Travoltify" and an adjective "Travoltified,") is determined to redeem himself during his presenting duties tonight. Still, Neil Patrick Harris and his team can hope.

As Time magazine is reporting, "the producers are aware that the mere anticipation as to what he might say (or mis-speak) will make some viewers tune in".

Sunday Independent

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