If I ran the Oscars: Musician Dan Hicks picks ‘Freaks’ and Jerry Lewis

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In this interview series, we ask some famous free-thinkers to recast the Oscars in their own image. Please put your hands together for our next presenter, music iconoclast Dan Hicks.

Dan, which actors and films will get Oscars from academy voters this year?

Colin Firth for best actor; Natalie Portman, best actress; Helena Bonham Carter for supporting actress, and Geoffrey Rush, supporting actor. As for movies, it’s between “The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech.”

So if you were in charge of academy votes, which performers and films would go home with an Oscar?


Most of the entire list in question #1, and Mark Ruffalo in ‘The Kids Are All Right.’

‘The King’s Speech’ is a high contender in my book to sweep -- much more deserving than the ‘Crash’ win of 2004!

Which films and performers from the past do you feel deserved the Oscar but didn’t receive one?

Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ for best film, and Jerry Lewis in ‘The Nutty Professor’ for best actor.

Which award categories would you add? Which need deleting?

I would delete best song and focus entirely on the music and score -- one film that was overlooked in this category was Bernard Herrmann’s music for ‘Taxi Driver.’

Also, let’s add the award for shortest film credits!

What part of the telecast would you remove? And what would you replace it with?

The part where Randy Newman wins an Oscar -- just kidding! Replace it with Peter Coyote reprising his year 2000 backstage commentary as “The Voice of Oscar.”

Which part of the Oscars would you never change?

When the orchestra signals that an acceptance speech should be wrapping up -- and Jack Nicholson sitting in the front row.

The fashion parade on the red carpet seems to have become as important a part of the ceremony as the awards themselves. What dress code rules would you mandate there?

There is no need for dress code rules -- this is America -- a person should be able to wear what he or she wants to the Oscars.

Well said. Who would be your dream host or presenters? Musical performers?

My dream host would be Chris Rock, accompanied by Richard Belzer. And would love to see more stars from bygone eras as presenters.

Who would receive your honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement?

Richard Gere.

Do you have a favorite (good or bad) Oscar moment from the past?

When Bette Davis was presenting the best actor award in 1986 and forgot to include jazz musician Dexter Gordon among the more celebrated nominees.

And lastly, let’s give you an Oscar this year for all your hard work. Let’s hear your acceptance speech.

‘I’ve heard of non-actors receiving Oscars, but this is ridiculous! This is going to look good on my mantle next to my 1958 high school Junior Achievement plaque for best business acumen. Perhaps I should make room for more Oscars -- I think I’ve got the bug! Next time I won’t try so hard, so some other guys will have a chance.’

-- Paul Gaita