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Illustrator Drew Friedman rethinks the Oscars

January 7, 2011 |  4:55 pm


In this interview series, we ask a host of famous free thinkers to recast the Oscars in their own image. To kick things off, please welcome illustrator Drew Friedman (“Drew Friedman's Sideshow Freaks," Blast Books):

Drew, which performers and films will the academy voters pick to win the Oscars this year?

I'm going out on a limb to predict that “The Social Network” will win every single award it's been nominated for. OK, full disclosure: “The Social Network” is the only new film I've seen this year. Being on Facebook 24/7 just doesn't afford me the time to see movies anymore. 

I just can't see “True Grit” getting anything. Frankly, I can't abide the fact that the Coen brothers couldn't give Glen Campbell just a tiny cameo, for old times’ sake. The man could use a break. Anything to get him out of Branson.

And I think Lady Gaga should get an Academy Award in advance of her glorious film career to be.

Very prescient. So let’s say that you were in charge of academy votes. Which performers and films would go home with an Oscar?

Again, “The Social Network” gets my vote for best film. Aside from it being the only film I've seen this year, I always support films with Jewish leading men playing Jews, even if the Jew is Mark Zuckerberg via Jesse Eisenberg. Good for the Jews!

 Personally, I'd like to see Colin Firth win for “The King's Speech,” though not because he necessarily deserves it. I wouldn't know. But my wife has been in love with him since “Pride and Prejudice” and it would make her oh, so happy!

 Which films and performers from the past do you feel deserved the Oscar but didn't receive one? 

I still can't get over the fact that Abe Vigoda never won an Oscar. I just can't. Disgraceful. Actually, as far as I know, he was only in one film, “The Godfather” (as Tessio, who had a cameo in “Godfather II”), before turning to television to bring us Fish on "Barney Miller."  But still... come on! ABE VIGODA. For shame, academy.

Which award categories would you add? Which need deleting?

 An award for “longest Oscar acceptance speech ever” should be added. Greer Garson gave an acceptance speech back in the early '40s that, the last I heard, is still going on. That one is hard to beat, but Michael Moore might be able to pull it off.

 An award should be also added to THANK certain actors for NOT making any more movies. This year’s nominees should include Pauly Shore, Steve Guttenberg, Carrot Top and Burt Reynolds. Unfortunately, Mel Gibson and Cher are not eligible this year.

 Also, Woody Allen should be given a Special Award as an inducement to stop making movies.

 What part of the telecast would you remove? And what would you replace it with?

 The Oscars is just not worth watching if a smiling, Ray Ban-wearing Jack Nicholson isn't parked at front row center. If Jack's not planning on attending this year, a live remote should be recording his every reaction to the ceremony, no matter where he is, or what he's doing, be it a private Oscar party, Nate & Al's, flossing his teeth, or in bed.  

 Which part of the Oscars would you never change?

 There is nothing I look forward to more than the explanation of the academy rules by the Price Waterhouse representative. His/her speech should be extended throughout the show (after the first half hour of explaining the rules to the world, he/she should stand behind the host and continue to recite the rules while others give their acceptance speeches), and then pick it up later at Graydon Carter's Vanity Fair party.

 The fashion parade on the red carpet seems to have become as important a part of the ceremony as the awards themselves. What dress code rules would you mandate there?

 One of the Oscar highlights was, of course, the streaker caught on camera while dapper David Niven was on stage in the "Streak Era" '70s. In tribute to that wonderful moment, everyone on the red carpet should be required to streak, including Joan Rivers and Jack Black.

 Who would be your dream host or presenters? Musical performers? 

My vote is for Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog to host. But seriously...

-- the brilliant actor Craig Bierko, still in the guise of boxer Max Baer from "Cinderella Man";

  -- 92-year-old Sid Melton is also available, but only if the academy will hire a car to pick him up in Van Nuys.

My dream musical performance would have been a duet by Mrs. Miller and Moms Mabley.  Alas… now we're left with Susan Boyle.

No awards ceremony is complete, though, without Glen Campbell singing one of his classic numbers!

Who would receive your honorary Oscars for lifetime achievement?

Jerry Lewis should receive the Lifetime Achievement Award every single year, even after he’s no longer alive to accept it.

Do you have a favorite (good or bad) Oscar moment from the past?

My favorite Oscar moments were when the Best Actor awards were rejected. George C. Scott ushered in the policy for "Patton," but Marlon Brando, of course, elevated it to an art form by sending up a faux Indian "model/actress" (who wound up posing for Playboy) to refuse his "Godfather" statue. Rejecting Oscars with finesse should make a comeback.  If I ever win an Oscar, I'll send Glen Campbell up to reject it on my behalf.

 Well, this plays nicely into our last question. We want to give you the Oscar this year for all your hard work. So let’s hear your acceptance speech.

Via Glen Campbell: “Ladies and gentlemen, because of the disgusting, shabby way Mr. Abe Vigoda has been treated by the academy over these last 40 years, Mr. Drew Friedman regretfully rejects this Academy Award.”  

 “OK, one, two, three: ‘Like a Rhinestone Cowboy…’”

 --Paul Gaita


Photo credit: David Burd.