A few weeks ago, the Oscar nominations came out and I was shocked to see that my name was not among the nominees. I suppose there's some logic to this, given that I haven't really worked in over a year, but still. Sadly, awards season is usually a little rugged for me. It always leaves me feeling crabby and neglected. I guess it's because my initial introduction to show business sort of started off with the Oscars.
I still remember the first time I saw them when I was about 12 years old. Nobody in my large and argumentative household was too keen on the idea of sitting through a 3-hour televised award show honoring movies they hadn't seen, so I had to put up quite a fight just to keep the TV tuned to the right channel. Truthfully, I hadn't seen any of the movies either, but I had seen the ads for them in the local paper and sensed that this was somehow a momentous occasion. Even now, after many years in the business, that feeling still persists for me.
For many of us, award shows gave us our first glimpse into the seemingly glamorous world of show business. They offered a sexy, tantalizing view of celebrities at the peak of their success. Jesus! Who wouldn't want to be a part of that club? Apparently, once you were in contention for some major award, it separated you from the pack. Even if you didn't win, you at least got to become an indelible footnote in the cultural history of entertainment. It's a pretty seductive image - especially for newcomers. The idea of having the word "nominee" attached to your name would certainly impress your family -- or at least shut them up for a while.
Of course, once you're in the entertainment business for a few years, you begin to realize that the majority of anyone's career is not spent standing on a red carpet with a microphone in your face. Most of your time is spent doing what all people in the business have to do: hustling for work and waiting for something wonderful to happen. Keeping the dream alive requires some imagination or maybe more accurately, some daydreaming. And what better to daydream about than the idea of finally being recognized for the time and energy you've put forth.
As embarrassing as this sounds, I have over the years, composed a great many acceptance speeches in my head. I find they come in handy when I'm stuck in traffic or on the days when I find out that I didn't get a particular job I was hoping for. There's something sort of medicinal about that imaginary moment of hearing your name called. It washes off the dirt of failed auditions, scripts that didn't sell and the people who sort of abandoned you at key moments in your career.
I've noticed that my imaginary acceptance speeches have sort of evolved over the years. This probably stems from the growing realization that as I mature, such a spectacular windfall is pretty darned unlikely. My early speeches were filled with dreamy, naïve excitement, but lately they have become more of a statement of purpose; a self-awarded merit badge for having carved out a path of myself and stuck with it. Plus, they help me shed regret and celebrate what I actually do love about the business.
And so my friends, I'd like to offer you my acceptance speech. It's a little generic since I wear a couple of different hats in the industry and could (in theory) be nominated in several different categories. But first, let's set the scene.
In this particular fantasy, I look fantastic. I'm fit, trim and am wearing slim-fitting tuxedo that I actually own. Seated beside me is my smokin' hot date (with whom I'm going to have sweaty, rapturous sex later in the limo on the way to the governor's ball). When my name is called, my date gives me a quick, affectionate little kiss before I bound down onto the stage with youthful and athletic grace. I am handed my award by a gorgeous celebrity who shakes my hand and pats me lovingly on the shoulder. While waiting for the thunderous applause to die down, I do my best to appear humble and composed, nodding my head shyly and smiling at the cheering crowd.
And then I open my mouth...
"First off, I'd like to say thank you for voting for me. I know you have many choices when voting for award nominees and I appreciate that you picked me. I'd like to assure you that you made the right decision. I promise to carry out all my official duties as an award winner this year with class and dignity, upholding all that the academy stands for. Obviously, there are a many people to be thanked. So many in fact, that I'm not going to attempt to do it in the thirty seconds I've been graciously allotted by the network. Instead I'd like to say a little something about gratitude. When I came into this business, I was quite young and all I really wanted was some glory. And I'm happy to report that along the way, I've been granted a little. Initially, I thought my job was to satisfy some highly personal need to be the center of attention, not realizing that no one gets to occupy that spot for long. It took me quite some time to realize that my job was actually to be of service; to entertain others. To give people a break; make them laugh; or invite them turn over a few of life's rocks and see what's underneath. I guess that might sound a bit pretentious, but I do think that audiences appreciate what we do. God knows, it's an unusual and sometimes costly way to spend one's life, but it's not without its rewards - the primary one being love. And I don't mean that in any sappy, all-encompassing kind of way. It's not like I've loved everything I've done or that I haven't worked with some real assholes along the way. I mean that unlike many people, I will be able to go to my grave saying I enjoyed the ride. I truly loved what I did and I gave myself to it fully. It was fun. And it had meaning. Believe it or not, even if you had not given me this lovely statuette (which will look great on my mantelpiece, by the way) I would still feel the same way. This has been a terrific way to spend my life and I am indeed very grateful to be able to say that in the time I was given, I "entertained" for a living. Thank you! Thank you very much!"
Copyright 2010 Quitcher-Bitchyn Entertainment, Inc.
David Dean Bottrell is an actor ("Boston Legal") and screenwriter ("Kingdom Come") who writes a weekly blog about being strangely middle-class in Hollywood at www.partsandlabor.tv
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