Given a golden opportunity yesterday to crack down on rumors of rampant Oscar absenteeism that threaten the institution we all hold so dear, Academy president Sid Ganis yesterday wussed out at the annual lunch for nominees. With Oscar contenders — including George Clooney, Ellen Page, Scott Rudin, and Michael Moore — gathered at the Beverly Hilton, Ganis failed to deliver the speech we'd been hoping to hear, the one in which he darkly threatened to ruin any nominee who failed to show up at the February 24 Oscarcast. "It'll be a cold day in Hell before any chicken-shit nominee who refuses to cross picket lines gets his hands on one of these babies!" we imagined him screaming, waving an Oscar statue in the air.
Instead, Ganis was polite and friendly, even at one point jokingly displaying a certificate of nomination that read "Must be present to win." But is this kind of soft-pedaled finesse what we need to ensure Hollywood's attendance at the Most Important Night of the Year, a night of glorious preening and industry autoeroticism? No! Man up, Ganis, and make that joking threat a reality! Better yet, let the nominees know that if they don't attend, and they win, their Oscar will be given to Jay Leno. Jay Leno! That'll scare 'em.