Always Mind Your Manners at the Oscars Podium

Linda Dozoretz is a publicist whose writing credits range from celebrity apologies, excuses and explanations to "thank you" and "I don't mind losing" speeches.

Veteran hollywood publicist Warren Cowan doesn't have a lot in common with my parents, but all recognized the importance of saying "thank you." My parents said it was common courtesy. With Cowan, it was just good business. He knows the consequences of forgetting to say thanks, and he made sure all publicists who worked for him, including me, realized it.

Before every awards show, Cowan reviewed Hollywood's two most important rules: 1. Clients should not be photographed holding drinks, and 2. Make sure everyone who matters is thanked. He shared scary stories about show business disasters that occurred when someone forgot to thank a costar, producer, director, writer, relative or others while being honored.

And so we arrive at Oscar Sunday. The Academy Awards is the standard for the most eloquent, well-written and rehearsed remarks from those who want to assure us they didn't prepare anything because they didn't expect to win.

This is the serious side of show business.

Me? I'd like to thank those who won Academy Awards last year, and offer their comments as examples of how one can look elegant while still remembering the people and things that helped them along the way. Nominees might want to take notes.

Corinne Marrinan, accepting her Academy Award for documentary short subject, touched everyone when she thanked the academy for "seating me next to George Clooney at the nominees luncheon."

The late Robert Altman used the occasion to acknowledge a woman in her late 30s who years earlier had donated her heart to the legendary director.

Gustavo Santaolalla, who composed the score for "Brokeback Mountain," dedicated his award to his mother, Argentina and all Latinos.

Ang Lee thanked "Brokeback" characters Ennis and Jack, "two people who don't even exist," when he won best director honors.

Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau, accepting their documentary feature award for "March of the Penguins," whistled and then explained that the sound meant "thank you in penguin."

Gavin Hood, accepting the Oscar for "Tsotsi," last year's best foreign language film, directed viewers to the website where he had posted a "huge, long list" of people to whom he was grateful.

Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard, members of Three 6 Mafia, who won best original song for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," were the only winners to thank Jesus. They thanked Jesus after thanking "our moms" and "our families," but before producer Gil Cates and rapper Ludacris.

Sure, there had to be hurt feelings among those not specifically identified from the stage. But generally, the winners did their jobs well. Only Paul Haggis strayed from awards show protocol. Accepting, along with Bobby Moresco, the best original screenplay award for "Crash," Haggis said, "Bobby and I have had the good fortune . . . to win a few of these awards recently, so we've thanked everyone we want to thank."

I'd only like to add, thank you, readers of West magazine, and everyone who has ever read anything. I think that covers it.

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