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Tube Talk: TV As A Fabulous Freak Show

A new weekly column on television from John T. Forde

Some people think TV is educational. Personally, I think of TV as a fabulous freak show, where we can feed our endlessly voyeuristic desires for trash.

And how better to celebrate TV¹s trashy pleasures than the Oscars, Hollywood's annual display of Olypian egos, bad facelifts andshameless self-congratulation?

Commendably, TV3 showed the whole ceremony. Uncommendably, they cut out the most fun part - the red carpet, where we laugh at fashion crimes committed by Hollywood's leading anorexic giraffes.

This year, twig princess Gwyneth Paltrow took home the "Sack that Stylist" award. Gwynny turned up in racoon eyes, Heidi braids and a hideous sheer rouched top not dissimilar to leftover Orc skin. "I see sag is the new black," my friend Paula Pistol sniffed, as we watched Gwyneth's emaciated boobies flailing around like half-empty water balloons.

Inside, Tom Cruise, looking scarily like alien life with his new braces, told us solemnly "movies are more important than ever." Thanks, Tom, you soulless homewrecker. We were desperate for the cameras to pan to ex-wife Nicole Kidman, looking cute as a button in a pink ruffled Chanel number. No joy - but Oscar-cam DID pick up Ian McKellen patting the thigh of his foxy 20something New Zealand boyfriend. From Cuba Street roadkill to Gandalf's date at the Oscars -- you've come a long way, baby.

To get things going, host Whoopi Goldberg swooped down from the ceiling in Moulin Rouge drag ("I am the original sexy beast!" she declared), launching into a one-woman assault on Oscar campaign dirty-dealing. "There's been so much mud thrown, all the nominees look black!" she hustled.

"Labyrinth" alumni Jennifer Connolly, wearing a beige Austrian blind with matching poo-coloured scarf, picked up Best Supporting actress honours for her stand-by-your spouse role in "A Beautiful Mind". But her unshaven, BAFTA-brawling co-star Russell Crowe lost out to clean-shaven nice guy Denzel Washington. The former Russ Le Rocq scowled as Julia Roberts jumped excitedly all over Denzel. Was this his cue to grow up and finally get a haircut? Or was it Denzel's wife's cue to kick Julia's scrawny white ass?

But the night belonged to Halle Berry. She had the dress, she had the milestone (first black woman to win Best Actress), and she had the speech - a huge tear-streaked bender, eclipsing even Gwyneth's 1999 winning sob-fest. Sure, she went on too long, and things got really scary when she shrieked, "I need more time!" at the camera. But what's more Hollywood than thanking your mom AND your lawyers in the same breath? You go, girl!

Also scoring big was LOTR's whizz kid Richard Taylor, winning two Oscars for make-up and SFX. Beaming like a kid on Christmas morning, he eloquently praised up New Zealand in the flattest New Zealand vowels heard at the Oscars since Anna Paquin. We also loved Peter Owen, LOTR's fantastically camp make-up guy, who wore a black tasselled leftover from a Dolly Parton concert. Ride 'em, cowgirl!

Predictably, Hollywood passed over Peter Jackson's dark genius for the bland reassurances of Ron Howard (still cursed to look like Ritchie Cunningham) and "A Beautiful Mind". Ho-hum. We'll be back, Hollywood.

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