For the last 10 years, Pond has been given access to planning, rehearsals and the actual Night of Nights for an annual article in Premiere magazine. The big bolt from the blue here is that, by and large, the old clich is true: The camera doesnt lie.
Steve Martin is calm, centered and no trouble. Russell Crowe is willfully unpleasant. Steven Seagal is an oaf. Can't stop the music Pond seems to be of two minds about his task.
On the one hand, he observes the people from a deadpan distance, with a cumulative effect thats subtly ironic; on the other, he makes sure to keep one foot near the luminous campfire of celebrity. He wants to be both of Hollywood and above it. This leads to exchanges such as Steven Spielberg asking producer Joe Roth if thered be any material in last years show on The Passion of the Christ.
Billy [Crystal] might do a couple of jokes, Roth replied.
But not much. Thats good, said Spielberg. What is really being sold here is access -- Ponds being close enough to overhear the exchange, which is of no actual content, let alone news value.
Likewise, he approvingly quotes several people as saying that the bad reception occasioned by Alan Carrs legendarily awful Oscar broadcast of helped kill him. So we are to believe that Carr sailed through the reception of Cant Stop the Music starring the Village People, but was psychologically leveled by a three-hour TV show that didnt work?
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Certainly she was loaded, Don Was tells Pond, but I wouldnt want to do urinalysis on a number of people involved in the show. It is, as they say in comedy, a tough room.
When David Letterman was marinating in appropriate self-loathing after his disastrous hosting gig, producer Gilbert Cates told him, See you sometime, somewhere. An ancillary effect of Ponds book is the sense you develop for how transitory many careers are, as household names.
Oscar winners of a decade ago have gone Whatever happened to Anna Paquin? Louis Gossett Jr.? Marlee Matlin?
And how long until we can ask the same question about Hilary Swank? She actually showed up late one night wearing nightgown and slippers. Then there was the time she wanted to rehearse even after a camera operator had taken a spill in the orchestra pit and was awaiting the paramedics. Can't we do this? For a classier star turn, there was Kevin Spacey, helping a dazed Julia Roberts backstage following her Oscar win.
When the out-of-breath Roberts requested champagne, a show staffer pointed to the water cooler. Only champagne will do. You have to understand," insisted Spacey, who knows firsthand what it's like to win.
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By Onondaga County Public Library.