Tales of Oscar Night: Ellen, Jerry and Marty


An Oscarcast first: the award show host (or in this case hostess) running a vacuum cleaner in the audience. As amusing as it was, DeGenerously speaking, it did take the glamour of the Oscars down a notch or two. ... And if it seemed as if Jerry Seinfeld was maybe auditioning for a future Oscar host gig, fuggedaboudit. He's been asked to do so by the Academy several times but has always said no. However, his time onstage as a presenter Sunday added such zing to the show that one hopes he'll reconsider one of these years. ... Vacuum cleaners aside, the night did deliver one of the all-time great Oscar moments: the sight of Martin Scorsese, at last an Oscar champ, standing onstage with Spielberg, Coppola and Lucas. Talk about a memorial photo op. ... And although Oscar quibbling is a tradition in itself, one certainly can't complain about a show that not only brings an Academy Award to Scorsese and such talented people as Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, Alan Arkin, Jennifer Hudson, Sherry Lansing, Ennio Morricone and the others honored at Oscar's 79th but also offers for any reason Catherine Deneuve. Once again the show's talent coordinator, co-producer Danette Herman, brought together an amazing lineup of presenters. Production designer J. Michael Riva also deserves a huge pat on the back. Rarely has an Oscar show stage looked so impressive. ... One little post-Oscar cautionary tale for you winners: Enjoy your triumph to the fullest, but give a compassionate thought to some gents who celebrated with all their might back on April 14, 1969, when their movie called "Young Americans" was named that year's best documentary feature, with a shiny Oscar put in the hands of producers Robert Cohn and Alex Grasshoff. It was a joyful time for them -- and for the next 24 days. Then, on May 7, it was learned that "Americans" had first been shown in a theater in October 1967, which under Academy rules made the movie ineligible for a 1968 award. Soon after, the fellows had to give back their beautiful, shiny Academy Award statuette; on May 8, the first runner-up in that category, "Journey Into Self," was declared the official winner. It was, to say the least, a bummer for Cohn and Grasshoff but an unexpected and belated windfall for "Journey" producer Bill McGaw. ... Hiding your new Oscar, just in case, won't help if that should happen to any of you Oscared on Sunday. But you can take comfort in the fact that such a kerfuffle has only happened once in the Academy's 79-year past. ... Philip Seymour Hoffman didn't have time to linger in L.A. after being a presenter at the big O festivities. He's already back in Manhattan for tonight's first prevue of "Jack Goes Boating," the new play he's starring in for the Labyrinth Theatre Company at the Public. It opens March 18. ... Prevues also begin this evening at the Al Hirschfeld on "Curtains," the Kander & Ebb murder mystery satire with David Hyde Pierce and Debra Monk, which did a test run in Los Angeles. Its opening night is set for March 22. On Thursday, "Altar Boyz" at the Dodger Stages begins its third year off-Broadway.