Oscars, Suburbarazzi-style: Local nominees and recent winners

oscar2.jpgThis Friday at 7:30 p.m. EST, Ted Mann and I will join TV reporter Karen DePodwin for a live RNN segment about Sunday’s Academy Awards. I’ll be wearing my tux for only the third time since my senior year in college, so the comedic value of that alone might be worth the tune-in. Here’s a preview of one of the topics slated for discussion.

Stars with a connection to the Lower Hudson Valley have done very well for themselves at the Oscars over the years, and 2008 is no exception.

Eight-time Oscar-winner Alan Menken, a New Rochelle native and North Salem resident, has been nominated three times for his songs from the Disney movie “Enchanted.” He took home his first two trophies for Best Song and Best Score for “The Little Mermaid,â€? and his most recent ones were in the same categories for songs from “Pocahontas.â€? In total, he’s been nominated for a whopping 18 Oscars, but hasn’t won one since 1996.

First-time nominee and sentimental favorite Ruby Dee, a New Rochelle resident, is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her part in “American Gangster,” starring Mount Vernon native Denzel Washington and former Nyack dweller Russell Crowe — both of whom are Oscar-winners themselves.

LoHud also has at least two representatives in the Best Documentary/Short Subject category, including Ossining High School alumnus Francisco Bello (for “Salim Baba”) and former Croton-on-Hudson resident Cynthia Wade (for “Freeheld”).

After the break, check out a list of some other prominent current and former residents of the Lower Hudson Valley who have won or have been nominated for an Oscar in the last 30 years. Continue reading

The Book of Daniels: Dan Futterman stars as slain WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl

AP Photo/Paramount Vantage/Peter Mountain

Just in time for the opening of “A Mighty Heart” today, my Journal News colleague, Kevin Canfield, scored an interview with its star. No, I’m not talking about former Sneden’s Landing resident Angelina Jolie. The other star. Mamaroneck’s own Dan Futterman.

In the film, Futterman plays Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered while investigating terrorists in Pakistan in 2002. While I tried chatting Futterman up about the role a few months ago, when he was in Westchester for the annual Pelham Picture House Gala, I didn’t get more than a minute to talk (nothing makes you feel smaller than getting the soundbite treatment from Dan Futterman).

Anyway, Canfield got plenty more time. Oh, the benefits of being an actual, bona fide film critic. A few highlights from his article are after the break.

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Partying with Pelham’s Picture House posse

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With tickets ranging $250 to $1,000 — and tables up to $25,000! — Saturday’s Picture House “Cinema Soiree” was a little too rich for my blood. But that didn’t stop me from mooching some hors d’oeuvres and drinks at the pre-dinner media hour … and then sheepishly accosting as many celebrities as I could talk to.

A slew of photos, my two-second takes on the evening’s honorees (including, from left to right above, Dan Futterman, Glenn Close, Leslie Holleran, and Bennett Miller), and the scoop on the Picture House’s new fall film series, headed by Peter Travers, are all after the break.

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Where oh where have you gone, Ang Lee?

tjndc5-5baqxskpxpca73wq6bw_layout.jpgAfter leading Westchester’s Oscar onslaught last year, nabbing the best director statue for “Brokeback,” Larchmont resident Ang Lee went MIA for the rest of 2006.

And so, after finding out that the county scored a big goose egg in the this year’s Academy Award nominations, I needed find out what exactly he’s been up to. Running for the PTA? Working on The Hulk 2? Lobbying for stem cell research on behalf of his wife, Jane Lin, a genetics researcher at the New York Medical College?

Turns out I needed to look to the media of the Far East for answers. And thanks to the Himalayan Times, I can now tell you that Ang is hard at work on a Chinese-language thriller called “Lust, Caution,” an espionage tale set in WWII Shanghai. It was just one of many articles giddily reporting that Lee cast Anupam Kher, a Bollywood superstar (who you might remember as the father in “Bend it Like Beckham”), in one of the lead roles. In another article on Zee News, Kher relays that “Lee has put up a massive Hollywood-style set, the kind we used to see in the films of Cecil de Mille, etc. The technicians, including the cameraman, are the same as ‘Brokeback Mountain.'”

Interestingly, another of last year’s Oscar nominees, Dan Futterman, may also hit it big in 2007 with a movie filmed in Asia (India this time). He’s got the leading role opposite Angelina Jolie in the Daniel Pearl biopic, “A Mighty Heart,” and, coincidentally, Futterman’s also from Larchmont. We may have stuck out this year, but oh, we’re so going to dominate the ’08 Oscars!

“Oscar Winner Ang Lee signs Anupam Kher” [Himalayan Times]

“Ang Lee’s humility was disarming” [Zee News]

(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

A Mighty Heart, and Mightier Bodyguards

Angelina JolieIt’s one thing for Angelina Jolie’s bodyguards to go roughing up college students in Mumbai. Quite another for them to start manhandling parents on the way to pick up their children at the Muslim Anjuman-e-Islam school.

To add insult to injury, the head of the school’s PTA told the AP, “Jolie’s bodyguard called one parent, ‘You bloody Indian.'” We don’t care whether or not you grew up in Sneden’s Landing, Angelina, there’s no excuse for going all George Allen on us. You don’t hear Larchmont’s Dan Futterman or his bodyguards or anyone else in the cast of “A Mighty Heart” playing the race card (wait, Futterman doesn’t have bodyguards, does he?). Nor is it acceptable to hit an AP photographer and threaten him with a gun.

After Jolies’s three bodyguards were arrested by the Mumbai police, she defended them to People Mag, saying, “It is not surprising that the press involved failed to mention their share of the responsibility in the chaos.”

And ya know, she’s got a good point about the media. Those AP types always makes me want to beat us children and parents at school, call them names, and then go sell some baby pictures to People.

“Angelina Jolie speaks out about bodyguard arrests” [People]

“Scuffle at Jolie film shoot” [USA Today/AP]

Futter-Who? Where’s Angelina?

Angelina Jolie and Dan FuttermanRemember Dan Futterman? After getting nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar for last year’s “Capote,” you’d think the Larchmont native and his Mamaroneck pal Bennett Miller would have already graduated to Matt-and-Ben status.

Well, the good news is that Futterman, who was stuck playing supporting roles on “Will & Grace” before writing “Capote,” has been getting some primo projects. Chief among them is the role of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter murdered by terrorists in Pakistan.

Alas, his costar in the film, “A Mighty Heart,” is Sneden’s Landing native Angelina Jolie, cast as Mariane Pearl. Thus, poor Futterman is hardly the main attraction in Mumbai. An AP story reports that Jolie and Futterman were swarmed with fans while filming a scene on a commuter train, and bodyguards “held back young students yelling Jolie’s name.” Somehow, even if she’s sporting brownface and what appears to be a wig from the Lisa Bonet line, Mrs. Pitt is still easier to spot than the “Judging Amy” star.

So, kids, what have we learned today? If you’re going to pen a Oscar-caliber screenplay, remember to actually star in it.

“Angelina Jolie gets on full Mumbai train” [AP]

“Jolie and Pitt, with ‘Heart'” [USA Today]