In this interview series, we ask some famous free-thinkers to recast the Oscars in their own image. Welcome, please, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award winner Oscar Nuñez of "The Office."
Q: Oscar, who's going to win the Oscar this year?
A: I think (and hope) that Jeff Bridges, Christoph Waltz, Mo'Nique and Sandra Bullock all win. And I think "Avatar" will win, of course. Mr. Cameron revolutionized filmmaking; he turned the entire industry on its head, leveled the playing field, then burned it to the ground. He ushered in a new era in filmmaking, and he did it all by using really, really, really expensive cameras.
Q: OK, but if you were in charge of the academy votes, who would you like to see take home the awards?
A: I'd like to see Quentin Tarantino and Jason Reitman get Oscars. Also, the baby in "Hangover." His performance was spot-on and completely improvised because he couldn't read. Not because he was a baby, but because he's dyslexic. He also came in at the last minute to replace Elijah Wood, who, it turns out, was allergic to talcum powder and developed a very angry and debilitating rash.
Q: Which films and performers from the past do you think deserved the Oscar but didn't receive one?
A: Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton and Richard Harris should have gotten Oscars [O'Toole won an honorary Oscar in 2003]. Some people who won were movie stars but not great actors. John Wayne comes to mind. Very popular, great guy. But there's this movie where he plays the part of Genghis Khan ["The Conqueror"]. I saw it a long time ago. He makes Keanu Reeves look like Laurence Olivier.
Q: Which categories would you add? Which need deleting?
A: Add best male, Cuban-born American citizen and actor over 35, 5 feet 8 or less.
Add best baked goods.
Add best holding a coffee in a to-go cup as if it really has coffee in it.
Add best out-of-breath performance.
Delete some of the pomp and circumstance of the event. Not all, just some. We will employ a standard academy uniform. All male nominees are to wear gray slacks, white button-down shirts, a gray tie and black shoes. All female nominees are to wear the same as the males but with Peter Pan collars. This will cut down on the red carpet time and "playa hatin'. "
Q: What part of the telecast would you remove? And what would you replace it with?
A: Remove the constriction of the podium and a host. Eliminate entrances and exits. Have all performers of all categories on stage at once. The awards are to drop en masse from the rafters, after which we take a page from our neighbors to the south: Pinata Rules. This ensures an entertaining, unpredictable show. I defy anyone to predict the outcome. My guess: Mel Gibson: 17 Oscars. Meryl Streep: zero.
Q: Which part of the Oscars would you never change?
A: The swimsuit competition.
Q: Who would be your dream host or presenters? How about musical performers?
A: Steve Carell and Tina Fey. Musical guest: Joe Lieberman.
Q: Who would receive your honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement?
A: My friend Denis O'Hare. I try to see movies without him in them, and it's impossible. Also, Jessica Lange.
Q: Do you have a favorite Oscar moment from the past?
A: Steve Martin as host. Billy Crystal's entrance on horseback, where he dismounts and then sets the car alarm on his horse via remote. Tom Hanks' acceptance speech for "Philadelphia."
Q: And lastly, let's give you an Oscar for all your hard work this year. How does your acceptance speech go?
A: "I'd like to thank God . . . just kidding. Dear sweet master of chaos, horned shadowed beast, my lord Satan. Your humble servant . . . "
Then they cut the mike, and an angry mob rushes the stage to carry me aloft. I flail about and scream, "Free speech!"
But the mob will have none of it. They run me out of town, tar and feather me, string me up, pull me down, shampoo, rinse and repeat. Then they leave me to rot in an open, unmarked grave.
Good night! God bless us, everyone! And please drive safely.