LoHud scorecard: Doc rocks, but Ruby Dee and Alan Menken miss out

oscar21.jpgThere were mixed results from last night’s Oscars as far as local representation was concerned.

North Salem resident and New Rochelle native Alan Menken’s Oscar drought continues. Although he received three Best Song nominations for his contributions to “Enchanted,� it’s likely his supporters split votes, allowing for a song from the movie “Once� to win the trophy. Although he hasn’t won an Oscar since 1996, don’t feel too bad for Menken. He’s won eight total.

New Rochelle resident Ruby Dee also lost out on an Academy Award this Sunday. The “American Gangster� actress lost the Best Supporting Actress award to Tilda Swinson, who won for her role in “Michael Clayton.� And not for her dress.

The Lower Hudson Valley wasn’t completely shut out, however, as Croton native Cynthia Wade not only won the Short Subject Documentary Oscar for “Freeheld,� but also was presented the trophy by two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks. In doing so, Wade beat out another LoHud product. “Salim Baba� director Francisco Bello, who graduated in 1998 from Ossining High School.

Academy Awards Hangover: The boringest Oscars show ever?


Aside from Jon Stewart’s monologue and the Jonah Hill/Seth Rogan-Halle Berry/Judi Dench bit, it was kind of like watching “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”—I really wanted to enjoy it, to believe it was worth the hype, but it just seemed to drag and drag. And, of course, it was utterly predictable.

OK, so maybe Marion Cotillard was a surprise, but were any of the others? Maybe I’m a little bitter that Hal Holbrook and Ruby Dee ended up empty-handed (even though I did pick Tilda Swinton), or maybe it’s just that the supposedly “shortened” clip-reels from past ceremonies padded the show with what felt like a half-hour of filler (loved the Jon Stewart tributes to “binoculars and telescopes” and “bad dreams,” though). Bottom line: I’m kinda wishing I’d spent the night watching the latest installment of “The Wire” instead.

A few more random thoughts on the evening:

cynthia-wade.jpg• Go Cynthia Wade! The one true silver-lining moment of the evening for me was when the Croton native (pictured here, on the left) won the award for Best Documentary Short Subject. In case you haven’t seen our RNN Oscar Special yet, Karen DePodwin has an outstanding interview and profile of Wade — in full Oscar-preparation mode. Skip about 1/4 of the way through the full video to watch it.


• Was it just me, or did Denzel Washington look royally pissed off to be presenting Best Picture? And really, can you blame him? The Mount Vernon native got snubbed for not one, but two films (“American Gangster” and “The Great Debaters”). I can’t speak to the latter, but for my money, the former was easily as good as any of the actual Best Pic nominees.

ruby-dee.jpg• Boy, did New Rochelle’s Ruby Dee look shocked after they played the clip of her slapping Denzel in “American Gangster”? As she watched from her seat, the expression on her face seemed to say: “That was me in that movie? Damn, I’m good!”

• Nobody was more uncomfortable in their attire than Diablo Cody. As she walked away from the podium after accepting Best Original Screenplay, with the slit in her dress riding up waaay too high, the only thought running through her head: I knew I shoulda worn underwear.

(All photos: AP)

Oscars, Suburbarazzi-style: Ted and I predict the 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 another preview of one of the topics slated for discussion. Click here to read the first preview.

We at Suburbarazzi like to make predictions, especially when they involve shiny glorified bowling trophies.

Notice, these Oscar picks are predictions, not necessarily our rooting interests. Let it be known that, with few exceptions, we often root for films, actors and crew members with connections to the Lower Hudson Valley (North Salem resident Alan Menken, New Rochelle resident Ruby Dee, et al.). Also, since I’ve shockingly seen none of the films scoring the major nominations, I’m just going to base my predictions on reviews, buzz and my gut feeling.

But hey, do you really think Oscar voters are any different? I swear, dart boards must have been mailed out with the screeners of “Ordinary People” back in 1980, because that’s the only logical reason why “Raging Bull” didn’t win Best Picture that year.

As a teaser, we won’t reveal the Oscar predictions of TV’s Karen DePodwin until she does so herself on Friday night. (By the way, how fun is it to refer to anyone as “TV’s [actual name]?” I say extremely.) But in the meantime, you’ll have to consider the predictions of Mr. Mann and me. Grain of salt not included.

Ted’s predictions:
Best Picture: “Juno�
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis, “There Will Be Blood�
Best Actress: Julie Christie, “Away from Her�
Best Supporting Actor: Hal Holbrook, “Into the Wild�
Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton, “Michael Clayton�
Best Director: Joel and Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men�

Chris’ predictions:
Best Picture: “No Country for Old Men�
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis, “There Will Be Blood�
Best Actress: Ellen Page, “Juno�
Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men�
Best Supporting Actress: Ruby Dee, “American Gangster�
Best Director: Joel and Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men�

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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

Tuesday Twofer — ‘American Gangster’ and ‘Lust Caution’ out on DVD

Two of the best movies of 2007 (starring local celebs) are out on DVD today.

70060009.jpgFor my money, I still say “American Gangster” was as good (and enjoyable) as just about any other Best Picture nominee that isn’t named “Juno.” It’s bizarre that New Rochelle resident Rube Dee is the only person to get nominated from the film, especially considering that Mount Vernon native son Denzel Washington was at the top of his game. Anyway, if you didn’t see it in the video, be sure to add it to your Netflix queue.

70059999.jpgAnd the other movie is “Lust Caution,” directed by Larchmont’s Ang Lee. This too was snubbed by the Academy in the best foreign language category. Bunch of prudes, I say.

Thanks to F.O.S. Amy Vernon for the tip.

Audra McDonald is the new Ruby Dee

Over the course of the next month, as we build up to the Oscars, we’re going to try to uncover every conceivable thing to write about New Rocheller Ruby Dee, who’s up for Best Supporting Actress. Today, courtesy of Friend of Suburbarazzi Amy Vernon, we’ve got something for you to add to the DVR queue.

On the night after the Academy Awards, ABC is airing an update of the classic “A Raisin in the Sun,” produced by Sean “Puffy” Combs. The original 1961 film starred Dee (bottom left) opposite Sidney Poitier (a former Pleasantville resident), and while this one doesn’t actually feature either, it does have SUNY Purchase Performing Arts Center regular Audra McDonald (bottom right) reprising Dee’s role, this time opposite Combs.

Be sure to check it out: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25 (8:00-11:00 p.m., ET)


(Dee: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill; McDonald: photo by Michael Wilson)

Suburbarazzi Week in Review on RNN: Ruby’s win, Trump’s Scottish links, and the B-52’s return

Flash Video:

This week’s Quiz:

On one recent episode of an NYC-based TV dramedy, the characters debate heading up to Westchester to dine at the famous “Blue Hill at Stone Barns,� only to conclude it’s “too far.� Which show featured this storyline?

A. Lipstick Jungle
B. Cashmere Mafia
C. Dirty, Sexy, Money
D. 30 Rock

The answer is at the end of the clip and after the break.

Continue reading

Ruby Dee’s SAG Awards stunner

Nothing was more surprising — and gratifying — than New Rochelle resident Ruby Dee’s win for Best Support Actress at the SAG awards last night. I so wish I’d taped to transcribed her speech, but the win caught me as off guard as it did Cate Blanchett and just about everyone else in the audience.

rubydee.jpgIn retrospect, maybe it shouldn’t have. Despite Dee’s role in “American Gangster” consisting of only a handful of screen time, it seemed clear that last night’s ceremony was all about recognizing and rewarding the sentimental favorites — “The Sopranos” sweeping Actor, Actress, and Cast; Julie Christi winning for Best Actress; the half hour spent on celebrating Charles Durning.

That said, Dee’s speech was totally captivating. From the opening (Will she remember Russell Crowe’s name?) to the ending (during which she rambled happily about audiobooks and memoirs and other projects), it was a little less coherent than my aunt’s speech at her 100th birthday, but every bit as moving. Especially the nod to her husband Ossie Davis, who died in 2005. “I accept it also for my husband Ossie, because he’s working on things up there.â€?

If anyone has video of the speech, or knows where it’s posted online, please give us a holler.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

And now let us praise Best Supporting Actress/Actor nominees


The list of 2008 Oscar nominees was announced this morning and, at first, I was fearing the worst: A giant goose egg for the Lower Hudson Valley. Scarsdale’s Aaron Sorkin was shut out of the Best Adapted Screenplay category, Larchmont resident Ang Lee and his film “Lust Caution” didn’t make the Best Foreign Language film crop, and Mount Vernon hometown hero Denzel Washington wasn’t there in any way, shape, or form.

But then a ray of sunshine. Two, in fact.

Continue reading

People of the Year — 4. Donald Trump

itw_people3.jpgYeah, we hear you groaning. But forget about that whole trumped-up bitch fest with Rosie O’Donnell for a sec. That may have made tabloid headlines, but this year the Bedford homeowner (or rather, mansion-owner) also made plenty of legitimate news here in Westchester. In addition to opening the doors to Trump Plaza in New Rochelle, beginning work on Trump Parc in Stamford, and campaigning to get the U.S. Open played at one of his Trump National golf courses (either Briarcliff Manor or Bedminster, New Jersey), he also erected some hard-to-miss road signs announcing Donald J. Trump State Park on the Taconic. Donating 436 acres for a park in Northern Westchester: generous. Congratulating oneself by branding your name all over the county: not exactly, to use his word, “classy.� (What’s next? Trump-onic Parkway? Trumpchester?) Some other unclassy moves: The Apprentice got its worst ratings in six seasons; his eponymous, SkyMall-esque magazine sent its backers into financial meltdown; and The Daily News reported that, to boost anemic book sales, he paid people to buy his new self-help tome, Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life.

Prediction for 2008: Trump currently has four—count ’em, four!—TV shows in production: Fox’s Lady or a Tramp, MTV’s Pageant Place, a syndicated Judge Judy/Dr. Phil-type daytime show (with Trump mediating financial disputes), and The Apprentice: Celebrity Edition for NBC. Just try to top that, Rosie!

Adapted from “People of the Year,� InTown Westchester, December 2007

(Illustration by Ismael Roldon)

EXCLUSIVE: Fred Norris rocks Eastchester

king-norris02.jpgFred Norris’ band, King Norris, rocked Mickey Spillane’s bar in Eastchester on Saturday night.

Howard Stern’s sound effects guru and King Norris’ guitar player was kind and conversational with fans and told jokes between songs, referencing new power couple Robin Quivers and Jim Florentine; frequent caller and New Rochelle resident Irish John, who was in the audience; and Jackie “The Jokeman” Martling.

The set list drew from classic, punk and current rock legends, including Lenny Kravitz, Jet, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Ramones and Green Day.

In the week ahead, I’ll post some quotes from my exclusive interviews with Norris, conducted before and after his sets. In the meantime, hooray for Fred!

(Photo by Chris Serico/The Journal News)

Suburbarazzi Week in Review on RNN: Talk show travails, ‘SNL’ regales and Halloween tales


This week’s quiz: Former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre is moving to L.A., but where are his houses in the Lower Hudson Valley?

A. Harrison and Mahopac
B. Hartsdale and Mamaroneck
C. Haverstraw and Mount Kisco

The answer is at the end of the video or after the break.

Continue reading