Only When I Laugh (1981)
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Born in Fulham, Merton, 57, made his standup debut at London's Comedy Store in 1982. He has been a regular on Radio 4's Just A Minute since 1989, and on Have I Got News For You since 1990. His new autobiography is called Only When I Laugh.
What is your greatest fear?
Heights: I am not very comfortable being six foot two.
The history of The Academy Awards is littered with strange and inexplicable happenings: Revealed shortcomings, spontaneous pushups, "The winner is Paul Newman," Sandahl Bergman's interpretive dance to "Eye Of The Tiger" (admittedly, one of the highlights of my life).
And of course ... Snow White rolling on the river.
But aside from the odd ceremony moments, and the fashion drama on the red carpet, it's the Oscar errors in judgment that we remember the most.
A few weeks ago we discussed the Oscar nomination Sins Of Omission, so let's now take a look at the performers who actually won, and how The Academy still blew it.
The 2005 nominees for Best Actor were:
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote
Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain
David Strathairn in Good Night and Good Luck
Terrence Howard in Hustle & Flow
Joaquin Phoenix in Walk The Line
And The Oscar Went
It's the most important morning of the year. Hollywood is temporarily jolted from its stupor for a ten-minute rollercoaster of natural highs and shattered dreams. Nothing but ... shattered dreams.
It's those shattered dreams that immediately become the focus after the Oscar nominations are announced. With only five slots per category, deserving actors are excluded, and that's when the fun begins, as the discussion about the "snubs" commences.
That was especially true this year, as a flurry of serious contenders were nowhere to be found. Charlize Theron, Tilda Swinton, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Albert Brooks were the names most bandied about, along with Andy Serkis (and they should really either nominate him, or give him a special Oscar for his unique contributions to film.)
Of course, Oscar has a history of overlooking interesting and memorable performances. Let's take a look at a few notable Oscar omissions.
As this government is rapidly finding out, you mess with the NHS at your peril. As British as fish and chips, television producers have long been wise to exploiting the special place this institution holds in the affections of the nation. Was this perhaps why when ITV brought us Harley Street (2008), a series set among the high flyers of private medicine, the British public gave it the thumbs down. Doomed to fail precisely because it could not exploit the goodwill we extend to the NHS and the good doctors, nurses and surgeons who work within its ranks. To generations of the viewing public brought up on Casualty, practising medicine for profit was simply anathema.
Television was very quick to
Partly because Academy Award madness is almost upon us, partly because like all former PhD students I love a good reading list, and partly out of sheer nerdiness, I have compiled an arbitrary list of the top 10 Oscar-related books. This has involved the incidental pleasure of hanging out in the Humanities One reading room of the British Library, and also in the library of the excellent and under-appreciated Cinema Museum in Kennington, south London.
1) Robert Osborne – 80 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards (2009)
A hefty, celebratory, coffee-table slab of a book, packed with stats and pictures like a book about sport. Very much the approved, authorised version.
2) Mason Wiley and Damien Bona – Inside Oscar: The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards (1977)
Notionally "unofficial" but in
We were somewhere near Lookout Mountain, on the outskirts of La, when Werner Herzog's trousers exploded. It was a small explosion, admittedly, as if a firecracker had gone off in his pocket. But it was an explosion none the less and in an area where unexpected bangs are to be treated with suspicion, if not outright alarm. Herzog had been shot – that much was clear – and was even now bleeding quietly into his boxer shorts as a tiny plume of
Tonight, BBC One unveils its big new circus-based sitcom Big Top, starring, among others, Tony Robinson and John Thomson. I think it could actually make history – as the first sitcom ever that makes its situation seem markedly less funny than it actually is in real life.
Prison isn't generally known for its hilarity, so it was easy for Porridge to be funnier than the situation it was based on. Being a member of the French resistance during the second world war wasn't especially jolly either, so it wasn't hard for 'Allo 'Allo! to out-funny that. A basement bar surrounded by habitual alcoholics who all suffer from varying levels of self-loathing? Depressing. And yet Cheers is one of the most-loved sitcoms ever. But here's the problem
Cinema Retro columnist David Savage takes a look at Hollywood's most dubious career achievement.
Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls: the film that inspired Whoopi Goldberg to say she hadn't seen this many poles abused since WWII.
In the run-up to this year’s Razzie nominations, to be announced Wednesday, January 21st for 2008’s “honorees” for the worst achievements in moviemaking, the longlist buzz is already getting press. If it’s any indication, 2008 must have been a stink-bomb banner year for movies as it’s rare for the press to report on the worst movies of the year just-passed, before the nominations are even announced.
Among the films emerging as leading contenders for 2008’s gold-plated raspberry statuette -- always bestowed on the eve of the “other” gold-plated statuette ceremony -- are: The Love Guru, Mike Myers’ laughless Bollywood debacle; Speed Racer, Disaster Movie,
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