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THE OSCARS | COMMENTARY

Joan Rivers: Gadfly or Fly in the Soup?

After a close-up look at the E! 'reporter,' these guys wonder: Why does anyone stop to talk to her?

March 26, 2001|KEVIN BEAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Maybe The Times shouldn't have asked us, Kevin and Bean, from the morning show at KROQ-FM, to write an article about the red carpet arrivals at the Academy Awards. Because we work in radio and nobody sees us, we get to wear shorts pretty much every day of the year. We'll take shorts, T-shirts and tennis shoes any day. Tuxedos are just male torture devices.

Fashion is a world we don't know very much about and don't like very much, and the red carpet arrivals are not about the movies, just the fashion. And there is one person to blame for that. One person has single-handedly focused the world's attention on the gowns and the designers. That one person is the devil herself, Joan Rivers. That's right, Joan Rivers is the devil. Beelzebub. She is the Dark One.

Now, because of Joan Rivers, and the inexplicable success of her Oscar pre-show on E! Entertainment Television, every TV station feels the need to hire a "fashion critic" to cover the Oscars. Even the Los Angeles Times asked a writer to cover what the celebrities were wearing.

Here is all we'd like to say about fashion. Did you see that Jennifer Lopez was wearing a see-through top? Did you see that? It was a see-through top. You could see through it. And that's really all we really noticed.

It has been quipped that "Hollywood is high school with money" and the Oscars are a "grown-up prom night." Well, Joan is the outcast at the dance who isn't popular, is a lot older than most of the students and whose boyfriend would do anything to get away from her.

Why does anybody stop to talk to her? She doesn't say much about fashion at all! While the celebrities are standing in front of her, she gushes about how good they look and then asks them the question she's made famous, "Who are you wearing?" It's only after the award show that she and her daughter Melissa then slam people for not wearing what they consider fashionable.

Joan prides herself in not knowing the names of some of the actors she interviews each year. Sometimes she can't even remember the names of the movies. Sunday night she introduced Michelle Yeoh as "Yee-oh" from the film "Crouching Tiger, Eating Dragon." But at least afterward she mused how nice it was to see "so many Asians here tonight." Guess they don't allow them in the Hamptons.

Let's face it: Movie stars get pampered a lot, and if you're nominated for an Oscar, you get kissed up to big-time in the months leading up to the ceremony. But is the red carpet the place to ask the lovely, recently widowed Oscar winner Dame Judi Dench if she is having any trouble getting work because of her advanced age? Again, why does anybody stop to talk to Joan Rivers?

Far be it from us to tell others what is classy and what is tacky. But Joan Rivers tries desperately to be funny and ends up being the very definition of tacky. She uses fashion as an excuse to get on TV and then pretends that she's still a comedian. We're pretty sure she was reading the TelePrompTer when she said, "E! stands not only for entertainment, but also for enema." She wrote that one? She sat down, and from nothing, crafted that beauty? She's probably still laughing about it. And we're quite sure she's still howling about how funny it was when she joked about one of the celebrities farting on the red carpet.

We love a good fart joke as much as the next person, probably more, but when you are at this event, you realize that it really is a classy affair. The celebrities love to dress up and attend this awards show. And everyone who loves movies loves to watch and root for their favorite star or film. But there's a fly in this soup. And in this case, the fly has had almost as much plastic surgery as Michael Jackson. Maybe more. It's time. Joan has got to go. We understand why E! puts her on, because we, of all people, understand ratings. But wouldn't it be great if everyone started ignoring her? If the celebrities just walked past her on the red carpet? And it would be especially nice if everyone stopped watching her.

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