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ALO Insider: The Oscars

Leonardo DeCaprio

The Oscars take an awards ceremony and elevates it to a level that all other events can only dream of; at least on television. More people watch television than go to movies, especially now with movie prices nearing twenty dollars. The levels of fashion, the A-listers, and the venue all combine to deliver nearly a billion sets of eyeballs to the ABC telecast of the show. Here we go backstage and show you the life of a reporter behind the scenes.

The 88th Academy Awards telecast was a unique experience from the get-go because of the entire diversity / #OscasSoWhite issue that plagued the usual positive vibe that the promise of a golden, 8.5 pound, 24K statuette will usually deliver. The tone started on the unusually muted tone of the red carpet and continued all night. The diversity issued was imbued throughout the evening and into the press room.

Chris RockAll of the reporters that were in attendance were literally on the edge of our seats. We simply didn’t know where the issue was going to take us. Oscars telecast host, Chris Rock, made no public statement after the controversy broke out and stayed silent all the way through to curtains up on the telecast. The controversy heightened on the speculation he was going to address it, gloss over it, or maybe make a serious statement and move on. Turns out, he hit the ground running and it was a full throttle assault on the controversy…

  • “Man, I counted at least 15 black people on that montage. I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards.”

  • “This is the wildest, craziest Oscars to ever host, because we’ve got all this controversy. No, no black nominees, you know, and people are like ‘Chris, you should boycott. Chris, you should quit. You should quit.’ How come there’s only unemployed people that tell you to quit something, you know? No one with a job ever tells you to quit.”

  • “It’s the 88th Academy Awards. It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no black nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times. O.K.?”

  • “…in the 50s, in the 60s … we had real things to protest at the time, you know? We had real things to protest; you know, we’re too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer. You know, when your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.”

…and on he went, a 14-minute monologue and every word had to do with diversity.

There was a very tangible impact from the controversy that spread to the media room. Backstage, there were more African-American reporters in the press corps than we had ever seen. Most were from outlets we had never heard of, or had ever attended an Academy Awards.

From the minute the issue became a controversy, the Academy was very self-conscious and that was evident from what we saw last night. They bent over backwards to admit there was a problem. They took blame for it, saying collectively, “Yes, there is a problem and we plan to do something about it. We are going to change things.”

Indeed, President of the Academy Board of Governors, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, said, “…there’s a brand new world coming…”  alluding to their four-year plan to double the minorities in the voting members contingency and the Board of Governors.

Eddie Redmayne and Cheryl Boone Isaacs
Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne, and Academy President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, on the red carpet.

The telecast took shots at themselves during the telecast. Some of the nominated films for Best Picture were altered via CGI to insert black actors into the films’ lead roles. In the media room, there were laughs, but after a while their was a backlash and complaints that the Academy was too over the top, where it was actually making fun of the controversy. Ah, sometimes there is no winning.

: Kerry Washington and Henry Cavill
Kerry Washington and Henry Cavill backstage.


As soon as we exhaled, the moans started coming about the political pontifications of the show:

  • Best Costume Design winner Jenny Beavan championed for environmental water issues during her acceptance speech. "I've been thinking about this a lot, but actually it could be horribly prophetic, Mad Max, if we're not kinder to each other, and if we don't stop polluting our atmosphere, so you know, it could happen.”

  • Adam McKay, winner for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Big Short at the took the opportunity to warn voters of candidates who take money from questionable places, including "weirdo billionaires," during his acceptance speech. His movie, a financial dramedy that warns against big banks and corrupt financial systems. McKay continued, "Most of all, if you don’t want big money to control government, don’t vote for candidates that take money from big banks, oil or weirdo billionaires: Stop!"

  • Even Leonardo DiCaprio jumped on his soapbox to discuss global warming.

Backstage McKay was asked if  he had someone in mind during his speech and he replied, “No, I was speaking about both parties.” He elaborated in detail about the big corporations, the banks and the problems with America to the point where the press covering it tuned out to the point where they were murmuring about their wishes that people would go back to just thanking their agents and their families.

(Let’s face it, reporters are complainers at heart.)

One of the fun skits of the night turned out to be the Girl Scout fundraising. Rock spun a nice storyline where his daughters are always finishing second to another parent’s troop. To make up for that, he asked to millionaires in the audience to pony up and help the girls sell more cookies. And sell they did, to the tune of $65,000 plus raised.

Girl Scouts

But backstage there were more under-the-breath whispers asking, “where’s Hispanic Girl Scouts, or the Asian troop? We have the African-American girl scouts out there, so where are rest of the ethnic groups.” In effect from there, it was a collective griping session about what kind of diversity was need. The claws were out on the press corps looking for anything to poke holes into the efforts of healing. So in case you missed it, there is no winning in the press room.

Sam Smith's grossly inaccurate Oscars acceptance speech (for Best Original Song) produced a profanity-laced tirade that was directed loudly and inward towards himself as the press corps called him out. Many scurried to the buffet served by Wolfgang Puck.

If you found the time, the food in the press room is Beverly Hills chic; and that’s an understatement. On the menu: spring rolls, assorted sandwiches with artisan bread and pretzel rolls, pesto bow-tie pasta, shrimp cocktail, rigatoni, with marinara sauce, beef and chicken empanadas, grilled chicken skewers rolled in sesame seeds, beff skewers, assorted meats including peperoni, capicola, mortadella, and salami, cheeses, assorted nuts, dried fruits, and a dessert table with four different cakes, cookies, and fresh fruit.


There was Oscar-shaped salmon with caviar at the Governor’s Ball


Go inside the press room with ALO and see what the big winners said after their wins…

Matthew McConaughey

Brie Larson, Room
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Thank you. Thank you first to the Academy. I want to start big because the thing that I love about moviemaking is how many people it takes to make it, so I want to start first with the Telluride Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival, who gave us a chance, who gave us a platform first. I’d like to thank A24 for taking this movie into their hands and sharing it with the world. I’d like to thank our director, Lenny Abrahamson, who is absolutely incredible. Emma Donoghue, who created this world. Jacob Tremblay, my partner through this in every way possible. My real partner, Alex Greenwald, I love you the whole thing.

To my parents, my agent, my manager, Chris Fioto, Anne Woodward, Lindsay Galin, the rest of my team, my friends, my family. Thank you to everyone who participated in “Room.” Thank you to all of you who saw it. Thank you to the fans. Thank you to the moviegoers. Thank you for going to the theater and seeing our films. I appreciate it. Thank you.


Cate Blanchett

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

I have to congratulate the other incredible nominees this year for their unbelievable performances. “The Revenant” was a product of the tireless efforts of an unbelievable cast and crew I got to work alongside. First off to my brother in this endeavor, Mr. Tom Hardy. Tom, your fierce talent on-screen can only be surpassed by your friendship off-screen. To Mr. Alejandro Iñárritu, as the history of cinema unfolds, you have forged your way into history these past two years. What an unbelievable talent you are. Thank you to you and Chivo for creating a transcendent cinematic experience for all of us. Thank you to everybody at Fox and New Regency, in particular Arnon Milchan. You were the champion of this endeavor. My entire team.  I have to thank everyone from the very onset of my career. Mr. Caton-Jones for casting me in my first film. Mr. Scorsese for teaching me so much about the cinematic art form. To Mr. Rick Yorn, thank you for helping me navigate my way through this industry. And to my parents, none of this would be possible without you. And to my friends, I love you dearly, you know who you are.

And lastly, I just want to say this: Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world, a world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people who will be most affected by this, for our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you so very much.


Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

I’ve always just adored stories, hearing them, seeing them, being in them, so for me to have the chance to work with, I think, one of the greatest storytellers of our time, Steven Spielberg, it’s just been such an honor. And unlike some of the leaders we’re being presented with these days, he leads with such love that he’s surrounded by masters in every craft on his film, every craft, not the least, Mr. Tom Hanks. People, I’m so pleased that our film has been nominated so many times, and as a face of the film, I meet many people in the streets and it’s lovely to have them, they’re always saying to me, “would it help?” and all that stuff. And I think, if you ever wondered about acting with Tom Hanks, would it help. The answer’s clearly yes.

I want to just say thank you to my fellow nominees. I don’t know how they separate my acting from your glorious acting in these wonderful films that you’re in, which everyone must see. I don’t know how they separated the five of us from all the other supporting actors who are making films at the moment. It’s a wonderful time to be an actor and I’m proud to be part of it. Thank you.

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Wow. Thank you so much, the Academy, for this incredible recognition. I share this with our fabulous crew and cast, and I want to thank, I want to thank Gail and Anne and Nina and Working Title and Focus and Tom. Where are you? My director. Thank you so much for your support and belief in me. And Eddie, there you are. Thank you for being the best acting partner. I couldn’t have done it without you. You raised my game. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my dream team which is Theresa, Angharad, Charles, Laura. I want to thank my friends [unintelligible] and my mom and dad. Thank you for giving me the belief that anything can happen, even though I would never have believed this. Thank you.


Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant

Thank you to the Academy. I can’t believe this is happening. I—it’s amazing to receive this award tonight. But it’s much more beautiful for me to share it with all the talented and crazy cast and colleagues and crew members along the continent that made this film possible. To all and each of you, I thank you from my heart. Leo, you are “The Revenant.” Thank you for, give every soul, your soul, your art, your life. Tom Hardy, all the Native American cast, all the English American cast, thank you very much for your trust, for your talent. I want to thank Chivo. Thank you for bringing the light to this journey. And I want to thank too, to Arnon Milchan. Thank you for your unconditional support. My producers, Mary Parent, Steve Golin, all the people in Fox and New Regency. I, I, very lucky to be here tonight, okay, but unfortunately, many others haven’t had the same luck. There is a line in the film that says, Glass to his mixed-race son, “They don’t listen to you, they just see the color of your skin.” So what a great opportunity to our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and, you know, this tribal thinking, and make sure for once and forever that the color of the skin become as irrelevant as the length of our hair. This is for my father. Thank you very much.



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