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Reactions to the Oscars

March 26, 1994

The purported theme of this year's Oscar ceremony was to recognize professionals behind the scenes. They sought to honor the mostly anonymous artisans and technicians who contribute as much to the making of movies as the high-profile performers. So why were the technical and scientific awards given in an unheralded and untelevised ceremony? PARK BUCKER

San Diego

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Whoever was responsible for hiring Whoopi Goldberg as emcee of the Oscar show should be banished from further involvement. She was smug, crude and deadly unfunny. Couldn't Hollywood present itself to the world with a little more dignity than this?

JOHN FOREMAN

North Hollywood

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Tom Hanks' impassioned, eloquent but ultimately overwrought acceptance speech crossed the line that separates genuine compassion from oppressive and absurd political correctness. It is one thing to recognize the plague that is AIDS and to mourn the toll that it has taken on the entertainment industry. It is quite another to imbue the AIDS-afflicted with a nobility that demands that we recognize them as "angels."

AIDS is a predominantly behavior-related disease. Why am I asked to feel not only compassion but some sort of responsibility for it? I feel sadness when a smoker dies from lung cancer but no responsibility for the choices he or she made. I mourn the waste of a life when a drug abuser dies, but I see no nobility in such a lifestyle and ultimate death.

It is painful to read of how the artistic community has been decimated by the AIDS epidemic, but why the entire nation should feel guilty or somehow responsible for choices by some is beyond me.

SHARON BIGGERS

Huntington Beach

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I rather enjoyed reading your Calendar story regarding the differences between Oscar hosts Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg ("Welcome to Oskarcast 1994," March 21). I was especially amused to discover a reference to a review I wrote a couple of years back in Los Angeles magazine about Crystal's "Mr. Saturday Night" that "Los Angeles magazine's movie writer, apparently unaware of the works of Woody Allen and Jacques Tati, enthused, ' "Mr. Saturday Night" ' represents the best job of a comic directing himself since Chaplin in "City Lights," ' then admitted he plays poker with somebody from the film's production company."

Only a person supremely confident in his artistic taste could make the assumption that a film critic who does not share his enthusiasm for the same filmmakers, in this case Allen and Tati, must simply be ignorant of their work. If your writer had bothered to read my review rather than just the quotation lifted for use in the film's ad, he might have read the justification for my praise of Crystal's work.

As for playing poker with somebody from the film's production company, guess what? It was a joke. That also would have been clear to your writer had he bothered to read the review.

ROD LURIE

Los Angeles Magazine

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