Growing up in a show-business family, Oscar night for my sisters and me was the equivalent of the Harvard- Yale game. While my prep school friends’ parents talked about Princeton men and the Ivy Club, my Mother would say “he was at Warner’s”, or refer to a house in Los Angeles by a movie star’s name (as in “the Douglas Fairbanks” house)  even though the star hadn’t lived there in 30 years. Having been an actress with a contract at Fox (just Fox, never Twentieth Century Fox) in the late forties, Mother knew plenty about movie star glamour, and Oscar night was a good way to get a taste of it, though she remained one of the most beautiful women around herself, until well into her sixties.


Many of the nominees were people my parents knew. Then, in 1972, a movie my father produced, Cabaret, was nominated for best picture. He was a theatre producer, quite successful, and had won many Tonys for shows like Guys and Dolls that he and his partner Cy Feuer had done over the years. This was their first foray into filmmaking, as it was for their old friend Bob Fosse, the director.

I was thrilled. This, of course, made watching the Oscars even more fun than usual. Cy Feuer had been the producer who was on the set more, even though it was a Feuer and Martin Production, so he went to the ceremony. It made no difference to me since I had seen from the Tonys that my Dad was strangely shy in these situations, so when they won he always let Feuer do all the talking anyway (something that never happened in private!).


Anyway, the evening started off well, when Joel Grey picked up the Oscar for best supporting actor. As the night wore on, Cabaret got more and more awards, and every time the camera would pan to the “Cabaret” section, we could see Cy and Posy sitting among all the stars, Posy excitedly poking Cy in the ribs. When they pulled in Best Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Director, it looked like it was going to be a clean sweep.

Then “Cabaret” ran into a brick wall called “The Godfather.” Though in the end we won 8 awards, “Godfather” picked up Best Picture (and Best Actor for Brando). I think history has proven that the Academy got it right. It’s hard to compare such different movies to each other, and while Cabaret remains one of the best movie musicals ever made and has many brilliant elements, the Godfather is astonishing, more than the sum of its parts.

I guess that’s what makes the Oscars fun. Often they seem predictable and there’s no question they have grown a bit formulaic and “commercialized” since the old days, but it’s still a horse race. And there’s still the element of glamour, competition, and, thank goodness, real talent alive and well in Hollywood.

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