Oscar turned our heads

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (KRT) The following editorial appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday, March 25: ___ Make-believe. Fantasy. Made-up people and stories and worlds. When much is broken, make-believe can help salve the wounds. Sunday night in Los Angeles, a bunch of professional make-believers got together and had some fun at the 75th annual Academy Awards. It was, to be sure, an awkward affair, a show muted by war thoughts, by fraidy-cat advertisers who pulled out at the last moment. But it mostly managed to sidestep the ugliness, in a needed respite from the grim clash in Iraq. Everyone at the Kodak Theatre, and many watching at home, were aware of the news stories of dead, wounded and captured. Yet it was good to see Steve Martin poke fun at himself, at the heightened security, and at Hollywood. (“I didn’t host the show last year, because I was _ how do you say it? _ not asked.”) It was good to see Catherine Zeta-Jones, a week away from baby number two, belting out “I Move On” with Queen Latifah, then trundling up to get her supporting actress Oscar. It was somehow reassuring to see Jack Nicholson grinning wolfishly in his indoor shades. It’s a shame the awards attracted a record-low Nielsen share of the viewing audience. They missed Michael Moore, maker of “Bowling for Columbine,” delivering an antiwar speech to cheers and boos while accepting the Oscar for best documentary. They missed the youngest man ever to get a best actor award, 29-year-old Adrien Brody, planting a smoocherino on Halle Berry. They missed a diamond-anniversary gathering of former Oscar-winning actors and actresses, from recent winners such as Berry and Denzel Washington to classic stars such as Jennifer Jones and Karl Malden. They missed “Chicago,” big, brash, glitzy, having to do with nothing and nobody real, winning the best picture award and five others. In an uneasy time, who can blame us if, aware of the world, we take respite from the world? The Academy Awards reminded us that while it’s no replacement for reality, make-believe can be a blessed escape. ___ ‘copy 2003, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit Philadelphia Online, the Inquirer’s World Wide Web site, at http://www.philly.com Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.