Yesterday on Twitter, during the celebrity arrivals before the Screen Actors Guild Awards show telecast began, I wrote "There must be better entertainment journalistic questioning other than 'Who did your dress?'" Someone noted that the phrase is "Who are you wearing?" She was correct. Another person, a television blogger, lightly criticized me with these responses: "people who watch red carpet arrivals want to know about fashion" and "just curious: why do you think people tune into red carpet show?" I politely answered, "To see fashions. But notice I didn't mention Red Carpet in my original Tweet. I hear it a lot off the carpet now." She was watching Red Carpet festivities on E! I was watching a live Associated Press stream on the Los Angeles Times website. The on-camera couple was off the Red Carpet but into fashion questions. I believe entertainment reporters should do some homework. Blend some good questions about the performer's work in with "Who are you wearing?" Red Carpet coverage has become a one-hour department store commercial. Did you see Viola Davis on the SAG Awards last night?
Marvelous! She presented the award for Best Actor in a Movie. If I was lucky enough to be in place for pre-show coverage, would I begin time with her by asking "Who are you wearing?" No. Because it's been asked. I'd want my work to stand out the same way she wants hers to. Viola Davis has an Oscar achievement on her resumé. In the entire history of the Academy Awards, only two black women have more than one nomination to their credit. Whoopi Goldberg and Viola Davis were each nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. In the entire Academy Awards history -- which includes Oscar nominated actresses such as Hattie McDaniel, Dorothy Dandridge, Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee, Diahann Carroll, Diana Ross and Angela Bassett. Amy Adams has four nominations. Marisa Tomei has three. I'd ask Viola if there are more opportunities now for minority actresses. I didn't write "black" because it's not just black women. Rita Moreno won Best Supporting Actress for West Side Story. Hollywood didn't stuff her mailbox with good scripts afterwards. She never got another Oscar nomination. The Joy Luck Club (1993) was full of good Asian actresses. Look at Viola Davis in that photo. She should be getting offers to star in biopics about famous singers Dinah Washington or Nina Simone. Ms. Davis presented the award last night to Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln.
One of the other Best Actor nominees was Denzel Washington for Flight.
His Oscar nomination, the sixth for the two-time Oscar winner, makes him currently the black actor with the most Academy Award nominations to his credit. He and Viola Davis starred in the Tony-winning hit Broadway revival of August Wilson's Fences.
Even after that victory, her agent told her she didn't have the right stuff for movies. I'd ask if that ex-agent ever congratulated her and apologized after she won her first or second Academy Award. Also...being an actor is not just Red Carpets. You have to do the work. Is it true that, during her audition for Lincoln, she had to do a long improv session as Mary Todd opposite Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln? Her research must have been extensive considering that she got the part and an Oscar nomination.
Like Vivien Leigh (Gone With The Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire), Sally Field is a non-Southerner who won both her Oscars for playing Southern women (Norma Rae, Places in the Heart). What is there about the character of Southern women that the native-born Californian connects to? She went South again for Forrest Gump and Steel Magnolias. I would've asked both Viola Davis and Sally Field how they felt the day they got their SAG cards and what was the project that got them into the union. The last tweet I got from the TV blogger included this: "...I have no idea why people watch SAG Awards show -- least compelling awards show..."
I didn't tweet back that I watch because I've been a proud SAG member since 1988, thanks to the generous attention of filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles. Also, with great pride, I served on the New York City SAG Board for one year. I didn't watch the Red Carpet SAG Awards telecast on E!, as she did. I stayed with with live stream on the Los Angeles Times. The young woman doing live coverage for the AP spotted Sally Field. That entertainment reporter asked "Who did Sally Field say she was wearing?" She added that Field looked "...very pretty and very age appropriate."