Oscars: Hal Janney and More Inside References Explained
The Hollywood Reporter breaks down the shout-outs and jokes that may have left viewers scratching their heads.
Beyond wondering whether their favorite movie or nominee didn't win, Oscars viewers, especially those who don't work in or closely follow the entertainment industry, may have had a few other queries after Sunday night's awards show.
For instance, who is Carmine Caridi, the only Film Academy member to be expelled before Harvey Weinstein was voted out? Who was the "Hal" that Allison Janney dedicated her Oscar to? Why did best original screenplay winner Jordan Peele thank Brian Roberts? And will box-office blockbuster Black Panther be nominated for any awards next year?
Read on to find out the stories behind six esoteric references from Sunday night's Oscars.
During his monologue, Kimmel mentioned that the Motion Picture Academy expelled Harvey Weinstein last fall, making him only the second person ever kicked out of the prestigious group. The first, in 2004, as Kimmel pointed out, was "character actor" Carmine Caridi, who Kimmel said, was "kicked out for sharing screeners."
"Carmine Caridi got the same punishment as Harvey Weinstein for giving his neighbor a copy of Seabiscuit on VHS," the host joked.
Indeed, the actor best known for small parts in the last two Godfather films did lend out screeners sent by distributors to Academy voters for Oscar consideration. Caridi, who became a member of the Academy in 1982, got in trouble, though, when his screeners ended up online, an act he traced back to Russell Sprague, a Chicago resident who Caridi was introduced to by Godfather III restaurateur Nicky Blair and with whom Caridi had shared screeners for years.
Early in 2004, Caridi recalled to The Hollywood Reporter last year, "a guy from the Academy called and says, 'Carmine, did somebody steal your screeners? Because they found them on the internet.' Then I called Sprague and said, 'Hey! What did you do? I'm in trouble here.' 'Well, don't use names, Carmine …' 'What do you mean, don't use names? I'm not gonna go to f—ing jail for you!'"
Caridi was brought in by the FBI, but they offered him immunity in return for naming Sprague. But the Academy's board of governors, on Feb. 3, 2004, voted unanimously to expel Caridi.
"They wrote me a letter: 'You're finished,'" Caridi told THR. He was also sued by Columbia Pictures (which released Oscar nominees Big Fish and Something's Gotta Give in 2003) and Warner Bros. (which released Oscar nominee The Last Samurai and two-time winner Mystic River) and ordered him to pay the maximum penalty under federal law: $300,000, plus attorneys fees, to each studio.
Sprague pleaded guilty to one count of copyright infringement and was allowed to return to Chicago but got busted for piracy again and, while awaiting trial, was found dead in his jail cell of an apparent heart attack.
"Who the hell knew he was gonna put 'em on the internet?" Caridi told THR last year. "I had no idea. I was duped."
Still, he said, "I don't blame the Academy. I did violate their law."
"To the people of Parkland, we say Ase"
Common included a rap at the beginning of his and Andra Day's performance of the Oscar-nominated song "Stand Up for Something," which Common wrote with nine-time-nominee Diane Warren.
He rapped in part, "Tell the NRA they in God's way, and to the people of Parkland we say Ase." While much of Common's message was clear to those who've been following the heightened gun-control debate after the recent shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, his use of the word "Ase" to make the rhyme may have tripped up some listeners.
Luckily, followers of Common's Twitter account got an explanation the next day via a retweet from Wisconsin DNC representative Khary Penebaker.
Penebaker wrote, in a message Common retweeted, "Ase is a West African philosophical concept through which the Yoruba of Nigeria conceive the power to make things happen and produce change."
The Associated Press described Ase as "a West African philosophy that means to make things happen and produce change."
After starting her best supporting actress acceptance speech with a joke that she didn't need to thank anybody, since "I did it all by myself," Allison Janney ended her remarks, which included a number of "thank you"s, by saying, "This is for Hal. You're always in my heart."
Hal was Janney's brother, who committed suicide at the age of 49 in 2011 after battling addiction.
Janney, who plays a recovering addict on CBS' Mom, has spoken about her brother's struggle as influencing her decision to take on the role of Bonnie Plunkett.
"I was around the world of recovery a lot, trying to get my brother to want to recover," she told CBS News in 2016. "He didn't. He lost his battle with addiction and other things. And I felt like this was important for me to take a part like this and be a part of a show that showed people in recovery, and also showed that there was hope."
She also told HuffPost Live that same year, "I lost my brother to addiction and other things. It was terrible, and I think that's why when this show came into my lap and I saw it was about people in recovery and addiction, I was like, 'I'm doing it. I just want to do it. I just want to do it for him,'" she said. "I love it when people come up to me and say, 'I've been in recovery for four years or 25 years, and I thank God this show is on TV.'"
"Black Panther has been so successful at the box office, they're already saying it's the favorite to not get nominated for anything next year."
Kimmel made a number of references to Black Panther throughout the evening. Despite only hitting theaters three weeks earlier and thus not being eligible for any awards this year, Marvel's box-office smash and worldwide phenomenon was the talk of the evening, with stars Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira and Daniel Kaluuya (also a nominee for best actor for his role in Get Out) on hand. The movie also continued to dominate the box office Oscars weekend, grossing $66.3 million at domestic theaters, bringing its worldwide total to more than $930 million as of Wednesday, March 7.
The film, which also has received critical acclaim, boasting a 97 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, has already sparked Oscar buzz. Will the film get nominated? Time will tell, but superhero films have had a mixed track record at the Oscars. Despite critical acclaim and a 92 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, Wonder Woman wasn't nominated for a single Oscar this year, even though the film got a number of shout-outs during the ceremony and star Gal Gadot served as a presenter. The same fate befell Deadpool, which last year failed to earn an Oscar nomination despite being nominated for Golden Globe, Directors Guild, Producers Guild and Writers Guild awards. And The Dark Knight was memorably left out of the best picture nominees in 2009, an omission that was followed by the Academy deciding to expand the field of best picture nominees from five films to 10.
Still, Logan did earn a best adapted screenplay nomination this year, and the critically maligned Suicide Squad actually won an Oscar in 2017, for makeup and hairstyling.
While Kimmel also joked that, "of the nine best picture nominees, only two of them made more than $100 million [at the domestic box office]," suggesting a correlation between meager box-office returns and Oscar nominations.
But making more than $1 billion at the box office, which 32 films have done and Black Panther is on track to do, doesn't necessarily mean that a film won't be nominated for Oscars. The 10 highest-grossing films at the worldwide box office reflect a mixed awards track record. The highest-grossing film of all-time worldwide is Avatar, which won three Oscars from nine nominations, including a best picture nod. Eleven-time Oscar winner, and 14-time nominee Titanic is in second place. From there on, things get messy. Frozen is the only other film in the money-making group to win an Oscar (it received two). Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Avengers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and Star Wars: The Last Jedi were all nominated, some for multiple awards. Meanwhile, other top grossers Jurassic World, Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron were not.
Best original screenplay winner Jordan Peele may have left viewers not up on the leadership of movie studio parent companies scratching their heads when he thanked Brian Roberts at the end of his acceptance speech.
Roberts is the CEO of Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, which includes the Universal movie studio, which distributed Get Out. While it's common for winners to thank studio executives, which Peele also did, few go all the way up the flagpole to thank the head of the studio's parent company. A quick search of the Oscars' acceptance speech database reveals that no one thanked former Sony CEOs Howard Stringer or current boss Kaz Hirai, Viacom mogul Sumner Redstone or 21st Century Fox and former News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch. Time Warner boss Jeff Bewkes was only thanked by name in 2001, by documentary short subject winner Tracy Seretean, but at the time he was still CEO of HBO. Similarly, no one ever thanked Jeff Immelt, the CEO of NBCUniversal's former owner GE. Disney CEO Bob Iger, however, did get a thank you last year from the team behind Zootopia as they accepted their best animated feature Oscar.
Roberts was in attendance at this year's Oscars, so it's possible Peele saw him in the audience as he was concluding his remarks and decided to include him.
"Speed, Gravity and Crash: Three main reasons not to get in a plane with Harrison Ford."
Kimmel used this as a punchline as he rattled off the film credits of presenter Sandra Bullock. And indeed actor and pilot Ford has had at least two dangerous incidents, including a plane crash, in recent years. In March of 2015, he was severely injured when he made an emergency crash landing at Penmar Golf Course in Venice, California. The National Transportation Safety Board later said a problem with a carburetor part led to engine failure and the crash. The NTSB also found that an improperly installed shoulder harness likely contributed to the severity of Ford's injuries.
In February of last year, Ford accidentally landed on a taxiway near a full passenger plane at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. He was told to land his single-engine plane on the runway but he instead landed on a parallel taxiway next to an American Airlines flight waiting to take off. In a phone call with an air-traffic controller after the incident, released later, Ford said he "got distracted by the airliner" and was concerned about "big turbulence" from another plane that was landing.