There's nothing like hearing your favorite film or television actor attempt to improvise an award-acceptance speech to make you appreciate the scriptwriter's art. On screen, all actors are stunningly articulate (except when they're charmingly inarticulate); on the awards podium, nearly all of them are boring, banal, and repetitive. (Exceptions: Meryl Streep and most traditionally schooled British actors.) This year, writes Caryn James in today's New York Times, the problem is even more ... well, dramatic: in the three awards shows televised so far this season, the same four actors have won in their respective acting categories and have given more or less the same bad acceptance speech every time. James writes:
As the awards season lumbers toward the Oscars, you can almost envision what might happen when the Academy Awards are finally given out on Feb. 25. Forest Whitaker will fumble for words and mumble; Eddie Murphy will robotically deliver his list of industry thanks; Jennifer Hudson will work in a hokey use of the word “dream”; and Helen Mirren will pay tribute to the actual queen.
Whoa! Cut! If you've ever thought, "I could write a better acceptance speech than that," here's your opportunity. Enter National Public Radio's first Oscar Speech contest and show 'em how it ought to be done. The rules are simple: Write a 200-word speech in character (and in good taste) for any of the nominees for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, or Best Supporting Actress. Deadline: 11:59 p.m. PST, February 17, 2007. As is the quaint custom in public-radio land, there will be no prizes, but the winners (as judged by NPR's digital media staff) will record their speeches over the phone; the best ones will be posted online. Here's a sample to get you motivated; the speaker (as if you needed to be told), is Sacha Baron Cohen in character as Borat:
Jagshemash! Wa wa oi oi. I kiss all of you. Especially you. (Points to sister.) She is No. 3 prostitute in all of Kazakhstan? Only four people in Kazakhstan watch ceremony right now, and 18 stand on top of roof with foil taped to groin to get signal. But this is glorious day for people of Kazakhstan. Only two from my country does America honor in this respect — I, Borat, and the how-you-say audio engineer from the 1987 silent film "Kazakh Potassium Company Employee Training Guide Part Eleven."