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Sally Horchow

Sally Horchow

Posted February 19, 2009 | 07:35 PM (EST)

Oscars: The Star-Studded Stimulus Package We've Been Waiting For


Forget the overtures from Washington. This week, we've been handed a stimulus that ought to get us through, well, the weekend. With thanks to all the other nominees, their agents, and the Academy, this year's Oscar goes to... the Oscars. No matter what befalls the Sexiest Man Alive, David Rockwell's show redesign, or those poor Price Waterhouse suitcase carriers, one thing's fo' shizzle: Oscar night is the boost we've all been waiting for.

For Angelenos, it couldn't be better timed. With each reputation-scarring newsbyte -- from the Octo-Fertility Doc of Rodeo Drive to the Standstill in Sacramento to Chris Brown's too-little-too-late apology -- February has turned into a public relations disaster for all things Hollywood. But, like an injection of Juvederm, plumping up the thin vestige of Hollywood's character, the magic of the Oscars will readily erase any damage that's been done -- at least for the moment (Juvederm doesn't last forever, either.)

It's good timing for the rest of the world, too. With the job losses, government implosions, banking crises, house foreclosures, Madoff-ing, and -- oh, yeah: war, disease and poverty wreaking havoc on the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of people everywhere, it's nice to know that for one night, no matter who you are, you can circle 'round the boob tube for some frothy, feel-good entertainment.

"Entertainment is escapism," said Jenny Bicks, who is one of the writers behind this year's Oscar telecast. "Who wants to turn on your TV and be depressed for 3 hours and -- please God -- not more than 8 minutes? This year is about having fun. Forgetting we have no money. After all, the Oscars may be the only entertainment anyone can afford this year!"

Amen, sister.

That is why I am imploring you -- yes, all of you -- to treat Oscar Sunday like the massage you can no longer afford. The drink you could use right about now. The holiday you deserve.

Here, it is a holiday. Hell, awards season is Hollywood's High Holy Days.

And to you haters out there: the Oscars are your holiday, too. Because even if you scorn the "culture of celebrity," the "disgusting materialism," the "shameless self-congratulatory" nature of the awards telecast (my husband's justifications for concurrently screening vintage tennis matches on the other TV), you must admit that at the very least, the Oscars are nothing but pure, innocuous fun. And at the very most, they provide some glitz and glamour, an aspirational fantasy, and an excuse to bring friends together to raise spirits. And, what's more: it's free!

So, let's milk it for all it's worth. Because, in some ways, this year will be no different: for the die-hard movie fans, fashionistas, slaves to pageantry, these Oscars will deliver. I, for one, am all of the above, and whether or not Slumdog sweeps, purple is the new black, or the show goes long, I will still spend hours on my ballot choices, watch every E! fashion special starting at 2:00p, and cry at the first sound of the overture.

But in most ways, this year is very different.

"We will not be ignoring the recession," Bicks said. "Hugh is a real entertainer -- he's a song and dance guy -- so I think people will enjoy just sitting back and smiling."

OK, then, folks - you heard it here first. The Oscar show must go on, and, thus, the viewing parties. Here are some ways to make it fun without breaking the bank:

1) Replace the Veuve with $7 Prosecco from Trader Joe's
2) Make it a pot luck hors d'oeuvres party
3) Lower the entry fee on your Oscar pool
4) Have your own paparazzi rush: shoot Polaroids of guests upon arrival
5) Make a drinking game out of close-up shots (2 points for Brangelina, e.g.)

For some people, these trying times have actually inspired them to throw a much-needed shindig. Carrie Norton, an executive in the green tech space, decided yesterday to email friends about a viewing party in her small Silverlake apartment. The re: line on her email invitation?

"Because suspending disbelief will keep us sane."