A Pointess Exhibition
Where Was Everybody?
by John Crosby
The big question during the telecast fo the Academy award nominations Saturday night was: Where was everybody? Time and again one of the myriad of emcees at this august occasion would place an actor in nomination and then say:"He isn't here." There were hundreds of people there, but in general the nominees weren't. Conceivably they'd all gone to the movies.
The 90-minute telecast was certainly the most elaborately pointless exibition that has come along in a long time. There were 18 cameras scattered around Ciro's, Romanoff's, the Coconut Grove and the N.B.C. studios, all trying and very seldom succeeding in finding something to look at. Five directors, five associate directors, three associate producers and 12 stage managers combined their talents to put this great nothing on the air and they proved, if such proof is needed, that television is a great communications medium - provided you have something to communicate.
Jack Webb, the "Dragnet" man, was sort of head emcee at the main communications center in Burbank, and he did a masterful job at pretending that something of great and unique importance was taking place before our eyes. Helping him out at all the restaurants where the nominations weren't, were Irene Dunne and Louella Parsons at the Coconut Grove, Donna Reed and Sheila Graham at Ciro's, Humphrey Bogart and a girl named Ann Higginbetham at Romanoff's and Greer Garson at N.B.C.
You must admit that's an impressive roster of people to introduce a lot of people who weren't there. Actually, Bogart rather violated the general rule about nominees making themselves absent. He, too, is a nominee, and, if he weren't also an emcee, he probably would have taken to the hills, too. Bogie, as a matter of fact, seemed vastly amused by the whole operation.
Not that there weren't a few people on hand. Along with movie stars and pictures, the Academy awards honors innumerable sound men and cameramen and other technicians. There were there in droves and they lined up obediently like halfbacks, blinking in the unaccustomed limelight and wondering what to do with their hands.
When they ran out of nominees, there were film clips from past and present Academy award films and some of these were pretty wonderful. It was fun watching Fred Astairs and Ginger Rogers dance "the Continental" again. It was stimulating watching superb performances by Marlon Brandon from "On The Waterfront" and by Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and William Holden from "Country Girl." It made you think that movies were the logical place to be on Saturday night, especially last Saturday night.
You mustn't for a moment think I didn't enjoy it, though. Watching Louella Parsons trying to read the names of some absent nominees as if the names have been printed in Sanskrit was one of the great comedy performances of our time. I don't suppose she's eligible for an Academy award, so I hereby give her a Crosby award which entitles her to one free drink on me at Romanoff's.
(Daily Boston Globe, February 17, 1955)