"If you've tuned in for intelligent conversation and life-altering interviews, you're in the wrong place." So confessed Joan Rivers at the outset of E! Entertainment Television's Academy Awards pre-show, which she co-hosted, as usual, with the poster child for nepotism at any level, daughter Melissa.
Just prior to that, ahem, "revelation," Joan infamous for the numbingly inane banter and flubbed facts omnipresent in her red carpet reviews offered an "apology" for the less-than-Pulitzer-caliber reporting which has long elicited barbs from critics. That was followed up with Melissa's own act of contrition: She said she was sorry "in advance" for her mom's offensive behavior.
And, to be sure, both Riverses worked hard to fill that celebrity-free first half hour with blue humor. After Joan mangled what surely would have been a world-class joke about irritable bowel syndrome, Melissa (forever milking motherhood) groaned about having to change both her son's and mother's diapers. Joan then coupled a Brian Dennehy fart joke (can you hear the fourth-grade viewers giggling?) with advice to starlets to "grab a Chap-Stik and start kissing ass." (Later, in a proud moment, Joan literally did just that with her own boss, network CEO Mindy Herman, perhaps to make up for an earlier quip that "E stands for enema.") Toss in Joan's grossly xenophobic comment that "It's wonderful to see so many Asians here," and you have must-see-it-to-believe-it TV.
But in all seriousness, listen closely namely, to E! contributor/award show expert Tom O'Neil and there were interesting Oscars tidbits to be had. A la Goldie Hawn/Kate Hudson, John and Tony Huston were the only father and son to have been nominated. This year, $60 million was spent on campaigning for the golden boy. And 40 percent of those who have won in lead categories did so for portrayals of real people.
Then there were the sound bites. Traffic's Benicio Del Toro, boosted by weeks of Oscar buzz, reported that his phone has been "ringing like a bat out of hell," while Geoffrey Rush, buck-naked for a good part of Quills, said, "I like to play characters that are a bit extreme." Judi Dench, rising above Joan's baited query about playing such a dowdy dame in Chocolat, replied, "I simply thank goodness for another great part." Oh, and The Cell's Jennifer Lopez shared this much about her new romance with video dancer Cris: "It's nice." Scoop!
In the end, it appeared that Joan's aforementioned apology perhaps was heartfelt, since both she and Melissa proved to be more prepped than usual for their star talk. Aside from suggesting that Gladiator producer Douglas Wick's wife (also a producer by trade) had a hand in the Oscar-nominated epic (she didn't), complimenting the (oops deceased!) designer whose label created Julie Walters's gown, and inadvertently letting Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones know that she had not seen Traffic, Joan was nearly gaffe-free.
But really, how long can that last?