What's an eight-letter word for a star-studded new documentary? Wordplay, going into wide release this Friday, offers a compelling look at Will Shortz, editor of the New York Times' venerable grid, and the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Along the way, such famous faces as former President Bill Clinton, Daily Show host Jon Stewart, filmmaker
Question: Just read your review of the Oscars and thought it a bit harsh. This is, after all, an awards show, with the main event being the handing out of awards. Certainly the singing performances, funny montages and humorous turns by Jon Stewart, Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell and Steve Carell were attempts to liven up the evening. Some succeeded, some failed. But what would you recommend instead? Although I agree with you that there are many ways to reduce the lengthy event, that won't automatically make it any more interesting. So what will? Or do you concede that the Oscars are just one of those events that viewers and critics alike will always find fault with, no matter what happens or who hosts?
Answer: Gee, a critic being harsh? How did that happen? You're right, though. I've been reviewing Oscar shows since maybe the late '80s, and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've had a mostly positive impression (usually the years with Billy Crystal at the helm). As I
Rob Corddry, a correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, follows in the footsteps of such comedic peers as Conan O'Brien and Saturday Night Live's Amy Poehler when he lends his voice to The N's O'Grady (Fridays at 9:30 pm/ET) this week. Here's what he had to tell us about his animated gig, advising Jon Stewart on the Oscars and more.
TVGuide.com: On O'Grady, who or what are you voicing? A news reporter, perhaps?Rob Corddry: No, actually
While favorites Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) walked away with the top acting honors at Sunday's Oscars, Crash pulled an upset by lassoing the best-picture trophy away from Brokeback Mountain. In the supporting slots, Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener) and the never-fails-to-impress George Clooney (Syriana) grabbed gold. One of the night's other surprises came when rap group Three 6 Mafia's raucous "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" (from Hustle & Flow) merited the Academy Award for best song. (A complete list of winners can be found here.) Me, I couldn't help but be fixated on Keira Knightley's seeming inability to crack a smile for Jon Stewart. Geez, loosen up, girl.
Jon Stewart did his best, but it wasn't good enough. There are limitations in being a clever, self-deprecating master of irony, when what the job of Oscar host truly demands is being a showman. Which Stewart would probably be the first to admit he's not.
His humor, politically barbed but never obnoxious, was possibly a bit too sophisticated for that cavernous room. But what really defeated him, as it has almost every modern-day Oscar host except for Billy Crystal, is the deadly monotony of the Oscar show itself. What a fossiled relic. The Oscar broadcast is a classy but inert dinosaur, and this year's was more forgettable than most.
Stewart gamely tried to deflate the evening's pomposity whenever he could — after a montage on message movies, he quipped, "and none of these issues were ever a problem again" — but still, we had to sit through it all anyway.
Even with a last-minute shocker, as Crash