Sony hacking may cast pall over Oscars

By Dan Bloom

Danny Bloom

Danny Bloom

CHIAYI CITY, Taiwan — The Oscars telecast on February 22 is most likely to be a toned-down event from the usual fare in the wake of the massive international hacking of the Sony Picture Entertainment computer system.

Whereas past Oscars presented millions of TV viewers worldwide with ribald jokes and trendy selfies by the likes of actors and comics like such as Billy Crystal and Ellen DeGeneres, the upcoming Oscars show in Hollywood will not be as extravagant and fun as years gone by.

In the Bloom family home in the 1950s and 1960s, we all gathered in the “den” of our one-story home in western Massachusetts and watched the famous actors and actresses of the day come up to the stage to receive their awards and give their acceptance speeches.

Mom and Dad on the sofa in the back of the den, and my brother and sisters sitting on the floor in front of the TV set, we all watched with not only rapt attention but also rapt anticipation. The stage sets were gorgeous, the songs sung live were wonderful to listen to and the jokes came at us one by one all through the three to four hour show.

For me, the most important part of the Oscars every year, then and now, were the acceptance speeches. If there were 50 acceptance speeches, one or two always stood out where the actor or actress threw away their prepared speech and delivered an impromptu, ad-libbed speech with an emotional heft that went above the third floor balcony of the Hollywood hall where the show was being staged. The speeches, the speeches, that is what I always tuned in for, and still do.

And the jokes. If nothing else, the Oscars telecast is a four hour joke-a-thon that gently sheds light on the culture at large across America. Jewish jokes, Italian jokes, African American jokes, feminist jokes, gay jokes, cross-cultural and international jokes. The show was always one long comedy show, linked by the usual award presentations and speeches.

But this coming Oscars show, the entire telecast will be presented and viewed, sad to say, in the tragic shadows of the massive hack attack on SONY. There won’t be as many jokes as in previous years and the presenters will carry grave, serious faces rather than the usual comic turns and pratfalls.

I mean, how does one laugh after one of Hollywood’s major studioes was brought to its knees by an illegal hack from the depths of some rogue computer soldiers?  Sure, Neil Patrick Harris will do his best as host, and the writing team, led by Greg Berlanti as head writer, with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron producing the entire 240-minute shindig.

Yes, the 87th annual Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, February 22, 2015, on ABC-TV and be seen by millions of movie fans across the world. But this upcoming show won’t be the Oscars we are used to.

Instead, in the wake of what happened at SONY at the tail end of 2014, the upcoming telecast will be a somber, quiet affair that does its best to tip-toe around the very sensitive issues that have disrupted the usual Hollywood chatter as never before.

Or will the presenters and the host get right into the fray and speak directly about the hack heard round the world?

The Jewish trio of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and and Dan Sterling that created the ill-fated and controversial SONY comedy ‘The Interview will be watching, too. But will any of them be seated in the audience that night? Stay tuned.

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Copyright 2014 San Diego Jewish World

2 Responses to “Sony hacking may cast pall over Oscars”

  1. Dee says:

    And of course James Franco and Lizzy Caplan who star in The Interview are Jewish too.

  2. Dan Bloom says:

    UPDATE on PALL: Sandy Cohen reporter at Associated Press bureau in Los Angeles with major wire story headlined ”’The Interview’ cancellation casts pall over Hollywood” writes on Dec. 18 same time as this SDJW story went out:

    Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin blasted the studio and the media at large for their reactions to the Sony hack.

    “Today the U.S. succumbed to an unprecedented attack on our most cherished, bedrock principle of free speech by a group of North Korean terrorists who threatened to kill moviegoers in order to stop the release of a movie,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “The wishes of the terrorists were fulfilled in part by easily distracted members of the American press who chose gossip and schadenfreude-fuelled reporting over a story with immeasurable consequences for the public.”

    Of course, the most damaging corporate hacking in American history has implications far beyond Hollywood. Is it okay to joke about it?

    “The Interview is now poised to shatter the world record for ‘spite viewings,”‘ comedian Patton Oswalt wrote on Twitter. He later added: “All joking aside, we just gave a comfy foothold to censorship & it doesn’t get any better from this point on.”

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