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Part II of my search for the Oscar continues:
One of the greatest things about being nominated is the Academy luncheon. It’s usually 2 weeks before the ceremonies themselves. The first time I went was 18 years ago and I loved it! I got to sit next to Karl Malden and Michael Douglas and his then wife. They were very friendly and I got to meet all the other nominees.
Even though I was in France this time, for Cremont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, I was able to book a flight from my arrival airport in NY to L.A. The luncheon was at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. As I passed by the large bank of photographers Frank Pierson, president of the Academy, announced who I was and all of a sudden they had to change film.
Inside I got to join the other animation nominees: Chris Landreth of “Ryan”, Sejong Park of “Birthday Boy”, Mike Gabriel of “Lorenzo”, Tom Miller and Jeff Fowler of “Gopher Broke”. I also got to meet Brad Bird, a fellow Oregonian, I discovered.
Deb Levin, my date for the brunch, and I sat at our table. We had a press person, an Academy governor, and the writer for “The Motorcycle Diaries” and the sound editor for “Ray”, but we were missing 2 more guests. It turned out that Clint Eastwood and his lovely wife Dina arrived late. They were very friendly and charming and I even got a photo with Clint (although we were not supposed to take photos).
But this, of course, was just a warm up for the main event. I flew back out to LA a week before the Oscars to take advantage of Oscar week. It was pouring rain when I drove my PT Cruiser to the premiere of “The Animation Show” at the NuArt Cinema, and I just missed a 5-car collision by 2 feet (not a good way to start off Oscar week). The NuArt was packed for the show, even though it was torrential outside. I sold a bunch of merchandise and PES and I did a Q&A moderated by Amid Amidi. “The animation Show” is a great show, be sure to bring friends when it comes to your town.
And it just went uphill from there. Every day Ron Diamond, of Acme Filmworks had organized a visit to one of the big animation studios (a screening and a luncheon) for all the nominated animators.
Even though there was no real swag (goodie bags) for my category, there was this thing called the “Oscar suites”, which was a floor in the Beverly Hilton devoted to the shops who wanted to promote their merchandise “get it on the red carpet”, as they say. So if you’re a nominee (like I am) then it’s “carte blanche” time. Biljana Labovic, who was my escort (she also did the production of “Guard Dog”) was treated like a princess, as these merchants thrust shoes, dresses, purses, glasses, jewelry at her, hoping she’d wear it “on the red carpet”.
We got a great hotel “The Magic Castle” only 2 blocks from the Kodak theatre, so it seemed ridiculous to hire a limousine, and we decided to arrive in style: with a pedicab, except that in L.A. there are no pedicabs . They don’t even know what a pedicab is, they think it’s a kinky variation on a pedophile. I was lucky to contact Maxwell Austin of Bike Cab Pedicabs (619-232-4700) in San Diego, who’s a big fan, to bring his pedicab up to L.A. for our big arrival.
The night before the big event we went to the Chocolate Fosca party. Marilyn Zornado and Libby Simon organized this wonderful event, to keep alive the animated spirit of Mike Gribble of “Spike and Mike” fame. It was hosted by Paul Demayer and had the crème de la crème of independent animation: Bill and Sue Kroyer, Irene Koltarz, Paul Vester, Jerry Beck, Bob Balser, Susan Pitt, Maureen Furniss and Maureen Sellwood, Ron Diamond, Joanna Priestly, Paul Harrod, Joan Gratz, Craig Barthill, Joan Andrews, Bob Kurtz, Leah Segury and many more.
So, it’s Sunday the big day. Maxwell arrives from San Diego with the pedicab. I’m dressed in my Banana Republic suit (see photos of me getting fitted for my suit), and Biljana in her glamorous dress from Sara Feinberg and $44,000 diamond necklace from Jonathon Arndt. I’m trying to memorize my acceptance speech. We hop in the cab and the cops let us through all the barricades, cause we got the limo badge. As we approach the red carpet, the throngs of fans are waving to us, taking pictures nd asking who the hell we are. I believe it’s the first time a pedicab has arrived at the Oscars.
We enter the red carpet at the same moment as the Pixar crew, John, Nancy and Brad they, of course, are grabbed by the media, we are ignored to saunter down the red carpet and savor the moment with other nobodies.
Once inside, we found our seats and find we’re close to all the big stars, Dustin Hoffman, Andew Lloyd Weber, Johnny Depp, Spike Lee, Morgan Freeman, etc.
This year they tried something different and gave some of the minor awards in the audience to speed things up. Laura Linney announces the animated short award, and my mind races “Oh no, I’ve forgotten my speech!” And the winner is “Ryan” by Chris Landreth! He gives a great speech and frankly, he deserves to win. It’s remarkable film and Chris did a great job. The last time I was nominated was 18 years ago for “your Face” and I lost to Frederic Back, a CANADIAN. And this year I lose again to a Canuck. I wish GeorgeBush would invade Canada, so next time I have a real shot at an Oscar!
We go up to the governor’s ball, great food and wine. Shrek II people join us at our table, along with other animated short nominees. I cruise around and talk to Paul Giamatti about doing a V.O. for my next film. Chat with Richard Linklater and Ed Begley Jr.
Then Biljana and I rush off to the Vanity Fair party a tough ticket to get, but I actually did illustrations for them when they started out, so I guess they remembered me. The backup of limos was too long, so I parked the PT Cruiser by the side off the road, and we walked to entrance. They almost had more photographers there than at the Oscars!
Upon entering, I bumped into Dennis Hopper with Oliver Stone on one side and Natalie Portman in front of me, and the whole party was like that. Donald Trump over here, Paris and Nikki Hilton over there, Tom Cruise, Mike Myers, George Lucas, Pam Anderson. I was stunned and couldn’t talk. Only after a few drinks did I get the courage to talk to Scarlett Johansson and get this photowith Biljana. Also making an appearance were Edd "Kookie" Byrnes and the great Jane Russell. I also chatted with David Carradine about how he should have been nominated for “Kill Bill”. The party started emptying out around 2:30am and we had early flight the next day, so we returned to the hotel.
But I had one more visit to make - I’d been invited up to Pixar to show “Guard Dog” to their staff. It was a lot of fun and I got to hang out with my old buddies Joe Ranft, Ralph Eggleston and Brad Bird. And they had a big champagne party to welcome the gold statues to Emeryville. That night ASIFA SF threw wonderful party for me hosted by “Carl’s fine film” and Karl Cohen, with food and music by Nik and Nancy Phelps.
’m now back in NY and I must tell you that the life of an Oscar nominee can be very destructive. You get used to people fawning over you and all the terrific parties. You got to keep saying to yourself this is all a fantasy, it’s not reality, don’t take it seriously.
This selection from “Sloppy Seconds” cartoons is a full page I did for Gallery magazine called “Football’s forgotten Hall of Fame”. It was for the Super Bowl issue and it’s just a whole bunch of wacky ideas that have a football theme. You can see, some of these ideas featured in my new animated feature “Hair High”. Watch for it.