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Do's and don'ts for the Oscar candidate

February 18, 2009|Lisa Rosen

Just like Mom, we have all sorts of advice for you, some for awards night, some for next season. Follow these tips, nominees, and remember to thank us when you win -- but not in your speech. -- Lisa Rosen

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THE CAMPAIGN

Almost nobody admits to doing it, but almost everyone on the award circuit benefits from it. No, not Botox. Oscar campaigns. Yes, it's all very shocking, using strategists and consultants to win a merit-based award -- so shocking that the two questioned here wished to remain anonymous. But when the results can influence careers and box office, it might as well be part of the film's budget.

DO

Make the rounds: Get out among the people because everyone's voting for all the categories. An actor can present awards at a number of guild ceremonies, or a cinematographer can go to a party hosted by actors.

Have a reason to be there: It should have some organic connection to the nominee, says one consultant, otherwise it comes across as too blatant. It's time to skip the trendy promotional parties. This is about the movie, so keep your focus.

Have your story ready: One story that's out there right now is the whole "Kate Winslet's never won," which they beat the drum hard for, says the consultant. It's smart too. After all these years, you think, "How is that possible?" Meryl Streep has a similar story. "This person has been nominated 15 times, and hasn't won since 1982."

Act appropriately at other award shows: Those shows are watched by your peers. You want to be a gracious winner and loser. People look at that stuff, says the strategist. It's all about momentum and goodwill.

DON'T

Talk trash: It would seem like a gimme not to bad-mouth other people or movies, says the strategist, but you'd be surprised.

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THE SPEECH

Manners expert and author Letitia Baldrige, Jackie Kennedy's chief of staff in the Kennedy White House; Lizzie Post, author and spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute; and Carole Hemingway, media trainer, agree that the speeches generally leave much to be desired.

DO

Prepare in advance: Don't just go, "I know what I'll say when I get up there," Hemingway says. You won't. Think through what is meaningful to you about the role, the movie, what's in your heart and what's in your mind. If you say something compelling, then the TV audience will want to see the movie too.

Keep it short: The shorter the better. Use some emotion, Baldrige says, look out at the audience and talk in a warm way. And then race offstage. Get it down to 30 seconds, Hemingway says, and hone it.

DON'T

Thank everyone: Agents, managers, publicists . . . thank them all -- the next day. You can send a bouquet and put a note in it, saying, "It's all thanks to you," Baldrige says. You don't have to do it up on the stage at the Academy Awards.

Read a piece of paper: That's so pathetic, Baldrige says. Rehearse it. Go in the bathroom. Look in the mirror, that's your toughest audience. Practice over and over again.

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THE RED CARPET

Fashion stylist George Kotsiopoulos, who will be dressing "Slumdog Millionaire" stars Freida Pinto and Dev Patel for the show, joins in along with Estee Stanley, stylist for nominee Marisa Tomei and presenter Jessica Biel.

DO

Behave graciously: Snubbing reporters is just rude, Post says. Think what you want to communicate, then get it down into clear concise sound bites, and be prepared with it, Hemingway adds.

Check for full coverage: I'll have them get in the sun and I'll take a close-up picture of their two private parts and make sure their gown is not see-through, Stanley says.

Test that you can walk: And be very careful stepping in and out of the limo, Stanley says.

Emphasize your waist: A good picture usually comes from having a clean waistline, so don't put embellishments on it, Kotsiopoulos says. Minimize that section.

Stand up straight: Your mother was right, good posture is key. If you're slouching, you're going to ruin the whole outfit, Kotsiopoulos says.

DON'T

Chew gum: It ruins the whole spectacle, Baldrige says. I don't care if you're dying of an abscessed tooth and the gum is providing medicine. It is absolutely unforgivable.

Try something new: This is not the time to experiment with makeup, Kotsiopoulos says. Stanley adds: If you're a girl who wears your hair down all the time, don't try some weird updo because you think you have to for a dressy black tie event.

Overdo it: If you are wearing a really bold dress or a lot of jewelry (never both), keep the hair ridiculously simple, Kotsiopoulos says. Pick your emphasis.

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