Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bruce Vilanch Dishes Dirt on Fire Island

Summer isn't the easiest time to blog. Everyone is always asking you to come have frozen margaritas or white wine or attend a beer blast (okay, so summer is just an excuse to booze it up). But, one of the reasons it's harder for me to write more on this blog during the summer is because in addition to my job during the week, I have a weekend job out on Fire Island.

Bruce onstage at Fire Island
It's great spending every weekend on the beach and at the pool (maybe a cocktail here or there, right?). But, I'm also working. Every Saturday night I work at the Icon Series in which a little bit of Hollywood and Broadway comes to the shores of this beach community. Last year Liza and Alan Cumming performed 2 shows (and did a repeat performance at Town Hall this past March). This past week Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award show writer (and former Hollywood Square) Bruce Vilanch came out to share some stories about his work over the years. He's been around for so long, he even worked with George Burns (although, he was quick to note, at the start of his career and much later in George's) and written for everyone from ABBA to (Pia) Zadora.

There were antidotes about Bea Arthur in the Star Wars Christmas Special (and a man in an alien costume affectionately known as "cuntface"). A misunderstanding on a talk show that led to the headline: "Vilanch Has Largest Penis in Hollywood...Says Lady Gaga". But I think everyone wants to hear about the backstage Oscar stories.

Me, Bruce, and my friend Nick. Just a regular weekend...
In 1994, Dolly Parton performed an Oscar nominated song from the film Beethoven 2nd. (Guys, I would just like to take this moment to point out that Beethoven 2nd has more Oscar nominations than Marilyn Monroe, Edward G. Robinson, and Donald Sutherland combined.) The producer thought it would be a fun idea for the 2 dogs from the film to come out on stage. The dogs thought otherwise. During the broadcast, one of them proceeded to take a dump on stage during the number. They tried to cut away to just a head and shoulders shot of Dolly, but her dress was so tight that you could see...well, both Partons very well. They quickly cut to just a headshot, but the smell was so bad that it brought tears to Dolly's eyes.

After all that, the next award to be presented was the Honorary Oscar to 6-time nominee (and never winner) Deborah Kerr. (Remember when those were actually shown during the ceremony!) Bruce said she had flown all the way from Switzerland and she wanted that damn Oscar. He and another man were to walk her backstage behind the curtain that would rise to reveal her center stage. As they walked across the stage, Kerr began to smell something and looked at Bruce ("like Miss Anna scolding a naughty child of Siam") and asked, "what exactly was on this stage the night before? A petting zoo?!" (For those of you interested, here's the clip of Dolly and the upstaging dog shit)

Bruce also said that the Honorary Oscar is referred to among the show's participants as The Kiss of Death. Once you accept it–you die! He says that they ask Doris Day every year and she always turns it down. He says, "The day you hear that Doris Day will be presented with the Honorary Oscar, just know she knows something we don't".

It's such a coincidence that he brought up Doris Day and the Honorary Oscar as just last Tuesday, my fellow contributors and I just did a poll of 10 Women That Deserve the Honorary Oscar over at Nathaniel R's The Film Experience and Doris Day made our Top 10! Maybe we're eager to give more than stars are willing to receive. I never got around to posting it last week, but here is my own personal ballot:

1. Catherine Denevue
2. Doris Day
3. Angela Landsbury
4. Marni Nixon
5. Maureen O'Hara
6. Liv Ullmann
7. Gena Rowlands
9. Kim Novak
10.Mia Farrow

8 out of my chosen 10 made the final cut–not bad. Although, someone mentioned Debbie Reynolds and that would have been such a good addition. Let's just hope that when one of these ladies is finally honored, the stage doesn't smell like dog shit!

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