News of the Week: Academy Award Changes, Space Force, and It’s Way Too Early for Pumpkin Spice Drinks

“Oscar, Oscar, Oscar”

That line is from The Odd Couple, one of my favorite sitcoms, and I can picture Felix Unger shaking his head in disappointment and saying it to the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after their recent announcement.

AMPAS actually made a few announcements this week, and most of them were infuriating and ridiculous. They’re going to limit the show to three hours. Now, that sounds fairly benign and logical, but one way they’re going to speed things up is to give away some of the awards during commercial breaks. Hey, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, how about taking out the dance numbers or a rambling segment or a tedious comedy bit to find more time to, you know, honor the people of your own industry on the biggest night of their lives? Am I supposed to go online to see who won during that commercial for Diet Coke, or wait for some highlights later in the show?

If that wasn’t enough to make you slap your forehead, how about this? They’re introducing a Best Popular Film category. Yup, for all those movies that might have gotten a lot of box office cash but weren’t good enough for the Best Picture category, apparently. Are they admitting that Black Panther is a “popular” film but can’t be a Best Picture nominee? It’s almost as if the people in AMPAS don’t understand movies, art, fans, network TV viewing habits, or the movie industry in general. They’re trying to appeal to more people and become more “relevant,” but I think these changes will have the opposite effect. A Best Popular Film award will be looked at as a consolation prize, which it kind of is.

Everything is getting watered down and ruined these days, so I guess it was just a matter of time before it happened to the Oscars.

Hey, here’s a solution, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: Why not just have better taste in movies? Realize that even popular films can be quality films and increase the number of films in the Best Picture category from 10 (which you already did from 5 several years ago to include more “popular” films, remember?) to 15 or even 20. Boom! Problem solved.

The Final Frontier

This is a story about the new branch of the military called Space Force, but I don’t want to get into the politics of it. Let’s talk about something more important: the logo.

Here are the choices.

I like the one with the shield shape or the blue-and-white one with the rocket, because it looks like the title card from a Space Force cartoon. The red-and-white logo with the yellow ribbon? It’s okay, but it looks too much like a space logo that already exists.

Idris Elba Is the Next 007? (Probably Not!)

For years, fans of Idris Elba have been pushing for him to be the next James Bond. He has never auditioned and there’s been no real serious talk of him taking over the role, but his fans really, really want it to happen. And now it just might, because there’s a report that there are serious talks about it.

Antoine Fuqua, director of the Equalizer movies, says that Bond producer Barbara Broccoli told him that Elba would make a great Bond. Daniel Craig will be leaving the role after the next movie, so there’ll be an opening, and it looks like we can officially add Elba’s name to the ever-growing list of potential onscreen spies, along with Tom Hardy, James Norton, Tom Hiddleston, Henry Cavill, and several others.

That was the story last week. This week we found out — surprise! — Fuqua never had a conversation with Broccoli, never brought up Elba’s name, and the whole thing was made up and hyped by the web. Sorry, fans!

But there’s an obvious reason Elba won’t be the next 007 anyway. You can tell what I mean just by looking at him. It’s pretty obvious, right? I know it might be controversial to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway. Elba wouldn’t be good as James Bond because he’s … too old.

I looked at the ages of the previous Bonds, from Connery to Craig, and all of them were in their 30s or early 40s when they took on the role. Since Craig still has one more movie to go, and it won’t be released until late 2019, Elba will be close to 50 by the time he would make his first Bond movie. That means if he were to make a second movie, he’d be, what, 52 or 53? I’m 53, and that’s too old to be running around, even if Tom Cruise can still do it somehow (but he started the Mission: Impossible movies when he was 33).

Breaking News: It’s Still Summer

Look at the calendar. It’s August 17. We’re still wearing shorts, and the new TV season hasn’t started yet. But for some reason, stores and restaurants are trying to push the fall season on us already.

Case in point: Starbucks is going to start selling their seasonal favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte on August 28. Yes, that’s just what I want: to sip a hot beverage while sweating from the 90-degree temps and 70-degree dew points.

But this early appearance of pumpkin spice is still not as bad as what I saw at my local supermarket last week: a giant Halloween candy display. At this rate, Christmas decorations will be for sale just after Labor Day.

RIP Aretha Franklin, V.S. Naipaul, Morgana King, Richard H. Kline, Patricia Benoit, and Lorrie Collins

Aretha Franklin was called “the greatest singer of all time” by Rolling Stone. Starting as a gospel singer and pianist, she went on to have a ton of classic hits like “Respect,” “Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools,” “Freeway of Love,” “Who’s Zoomin’ Who,” and her duet with George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).” A multiple Grammy winner, she also had a memorable role in The Blues Brothers, was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

The Queen of Soul died yesterday at the age of 76.

V.S. Naipaul was an acclaimed writer of such novels as A House for Mr. Biswas, Guerrillas, and Miguel Street, along with several works of travel writing and other nonfiction. He died last week at the age of 85.

Morgana King was a veteran jazz singer and actress. She had a hit song with her version of “A Taste of Honey” and played Marlon Brando’s wife in The Godfather. She died in March at the age of 87.

Richard H. Kline was a cinematographer and camera operator who worked on such films as Camelot, Body Heat, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and the 1976 remake of King Kong, along with TV shows like The Monkees and Mr. Novak. He died last week at the age of 91.

Patricia Benoit played Wally Cox’s girlfriend on the ’50s sitcom Mr. Peepers. She died last week at the age of 91.

Lorrie Collins was the female half of the brother and sister duo the Collins Kids. They were quite popular in the ’50s and ’60s, singing such songs as “Problems Problems” and “Hoy Hoy.” Collins died last week at the age of 76.

If you’ve never heard of the Collins Kids, take a look at this video. She had a beautiful voice, and her little brother Larry was an incredibly skilled guitarist.

This Week in History

Hedy Lamarr Gets Tech Patent (August 11, 1942)

Do you use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth? You have actress Hedy Lamarr to thank for that. Lamarr and her partner, inventor George Antheil, invented the frequency-hopping technology that led to many of the gizmos we use today.

Will Rogers and Wiley Post Killed in Plane Crash (August 15, 1935)

The humorist and his close friend, aviator Wiley Post, both died when the plane Post was piloting crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Moonlit Future (August 15, 1959)

Engaged couple dreams of their future by moonlightMoonlit Future
Constantin Alajalov
August 15, 1959

We should update this Constantin Alajálov cover and include something created with the help of Lamarr and Antheil’s invention.

Quote of the Week

“At the end of the day, it’s adults getting trophies. Why should that be taken seriously?”

Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost, co-host of next month’s Emmy Awards, on award shows

More Summer Desserts

I don’t eat a lot of dessert during the summer months. I’m more of a cold-weather dessert kind of guy. The only “desserts” I’ll have in the summer are ice cream and Popsicles, and even those are half taste enjoyment, half “oh my God how am I going to cool down?”

But if you’re in the mood for something fruity and refreshing to make during the next several weeks, how about this Kiwi Summer Limeade Pie, this Mini Peach Melba Ice Cream Cake, the elegant Strawberries Romanoff, or maybe an icy cold Galaxy Milkshake?

Just don’t include any pumpkin. Fall and winter will be here soon enough. There’s plenty of time.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Bad Poetry Day (August 18)

Here’s my contribution:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
Hey, does anybody know when the new season of
Game of Thrones starts?
I think in early 2019
Great, thanks
No problem

I know that’s pretty bad, but for Bad Poetry Day, it’s pretty good.