The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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Secret Oscar footage: Plant or leak?

February 20, 2009 |  3:28 pm

Everywhere I looked today it felt like April Fool's Day. First, my paper had a great story from Chris Lee about Scott Weiss, a loopy party crasher who actually sneaked into last year's Academy Awards. Even though the awards were, as Lee put it, crawling with high-priced security guards, federal agents, FBI and bomb squad specialists, Weiss managed to use a forged all-access badge to slip in undetected.

The Web was also full of posts about an is-it-real-or-isn't-it-real crime-scene photo of Rihanna that may have been leaked by an LAPD staffer, prompting the police department to launch an investigation into how the photo of the battered songstress fell into the hands of TMZ and other celeb websites. And now the Web is full of posts about a supposed video of Hugh Jackman rehearsing his act for Sunday's Oscar telecast.

Nikki Finke, for example, has put up a post claiming the footage was taken by a personal assistant and will cause the stodgy Motion Picture Academy to "freak," adding in an updated post "quick, someone revive Sid Ganis." I guess she didn't bother to actually watch the video, which is not the work of an amateur. In fact, to the contrary, it looks like a terrifically clever attempt by someone on the inside to create a little Internet buzz for the Oscars with faux bootleg video footage. As any advertising exec could tell, the clip is professionally shot and edited to "appear" unauthorized. In fact, its message is pretty obvious: Hey, fans, we're putting on a cool show, so don't forget to watch. No one needs to revive Sid Ganis. I bet he's ecstatic that the academy has finally done something remotely hip.

It's surely not by chance that the video has Jackman himself delivering the pitch, saying not-so-casually: "We want to have that feeling that, 'This is live, anything can happen... Yes, ladies and gentlemen, change has finally come." I mean, that's good dialogue. Hugh delivers it well, but whoever wrote it should be backstage, writing some good "ad libs" for everyone Sunday night.

Here, watch for yourself: