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And the award for the most negativity goes to The Times

February 24, 2009|T.J. SIMERS

I was excited, always have been a big movie fan -- the first 30 minutes of "Arthur" as much fun as anyone can have -- and I was curious to see how Hugh Jackman would handle the big event.

I'm a real fan, so I watched pretty much all the pre-event shows leading up to the Academy Awards, and wondered why the reporters had to keep asking such annoying questions.

It was as if every one of them thought they were the show.

When it came time for everything to start, I was a little surprised no one sang the national anthem, but Jackman was leading off, and right away he was a big hit.

He seemed so comfortable in the spotlight, mentioning Meryl Streep's 15 nominations over the years and when talking such numbers, he said, no other conclusion but "steroids."

Now just imagine the practice time involved here for all the singing and dancing, the countdown to airtime, and then putting it all on the line for such a huge audience -- the great ones responding when the pressure is on.

When Jackman went to Anne Hathaway, and she didn't seem to know what was going on, it was brilliant, the clever ruse leading to a clap-out loud moment with Hathaway standing there and giving the Nixon victory salute.

But then I pick up the Los Angeles Times the next morning, and guess what, everyone's a critic.

It was one putdown after another, and this ridiculous headline across a story in the Calendar section: "Hey, Hugh, what was that all about?"

The byline says, "Mary McNamara," and where does she get off writing a title like that?

I don't get it. Why do writers always have to be so negative? Why are they so intent on just tearing things down?

Has Mary McNamara ever worn a top hat, sang and danced in front of millions? Who made her an expert on such things?

Here's Hugh giving it his all, while we have another Times columnist, Patrick Goldstein -- and catch the smirk on this guy's mug in the paper -- beginning his know-it-all column this way: "I guess reinventing the Oscars is harder than it looks."

What kind of cheap shot is that? Let's seem him do better.

I'm just beaming when Sophia Loren and Shirley MacLaine come out onstage with three other winners to address this year's nominees as if they were sitting together in a restaurant.

MacLaine could read the telephone book and I'd pay to be there, and she's telling Hathaway she's going to be a star for a long time, and frankly, it's a little emotional even now.

But what do we get from Miss Negativity, a.k.a. Mary McNamara in The Times? "The mini-mentoring sessions that replaced the standard 'and here are the nominees' for the acting categories must Never Happen Again."

Here we are watching great actors and Mary McNamara has to capitalize Never Happen Again lest no one understand what she's trying to scream. Acting upset isn't that easy, now is it, Miss Negativity?

Next we get Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Ben Kingsley, Anthony Hopkins and Adrien Brody taking the stage, and McNamara is moved only to make some wiseacre remark about Brody. That's like watching Kobe score 61 and writing about Farmar's turnover in the second quarter.

What's wrong with these people? Why must they only harp on what doesn't go well?

Where's the support from the hometown newspaper?

Jackman gives it everything he has, so tired he has to take off pretty much the rest of the show, and yet Goldstein writes: "But you'd have to say that Jackman was a bust."

Some people are just never pleased.

I thought about sending a nasty e-mail to the smirking mug, copies to every top boss around here informing them I was going to cancel my subscription, but that's probably just what the smirking mug wants.

He's probably nothing but a disturber, if you know what I mean, who writes only to get a rise out of people or sell more newspapers.

"I'm beginning to believe that saving the Oscars is a job for Iron Man or Hancock," he writes, and obviously he went into this assignment already knowing he wasn't going to like what he saw.

How about some non-biased reporting from Times columnists?

Even Susan King, who was writing the Times' game story on the Academy Awards, was moved to editorialize.

"There was one moment that audiences wished had more emotion: When Jennifer Aniston and [Angelina] Jolie were just feet from each other," wrote King, and are we to assume King interviewed everyone in the audience in the theater as well as at home to report such a thing?

Where does the negativity stop? Times film critic Betsy Sharkey, writing under the title: "Did they deserve it?" wants to know "why not Melissa Leo? What of Meryl Streep?" after Kate Winslet wins.

Why not? Because Academy members voted for Winslet, which makes you wonder about The Times' film critic if she doesn't even understand the rules.

I'm telling you, all these negative reporters ought to take a closer look at Booth Moore's story in The Times titled: "A Very Fairy Tale Night." Male or female, it's such a pleasure to read someone not angry and who is willing to accentuate the positive.

"Taraji P. Henson, in a rippling cream chiffon Roberto Cavalli column, offset by a red Mary Norton clutch," wrote Booth, "was the evening's best dressed."

Just how hard is it to give someone their due?

--

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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