Oscar’s TV Night: New Home, New Goofs, and Donald Sutherland

Wednesday, Mar. 27

Hel- lo , Oscar! Like everyone outside of Russell Crowe, who’s droning on like the love child of James Lipton and Charles Grodin these days- crikey, that’s one acceptance wheeze we were grateful to miss-we couldn’t help but be swept up in the wee-hour history-making of the movie biz’s biggest big whoop. Halle wins, Jim Broadbent becomes a household name, now there’s classy Denzel-you couldn’t help but sit there on March 24 and ask: “Um, did they just show a Polaroid of Will Smith?”

The Ali star was attending to a sickened sprite in the hospital, reportedly-Page Six knocked down the delicious rumor that Big Willie Style got booted for decking Ethan Hawke in the loo, forcing producers to throw up a Sean Penn–esque still shot of Mr. Smith during the Best Actor parade. But that was just the capper of the weirdness in what is invariably the most indulgent, self-congratulatory night of television not on the Fox News Channel.

First up: Somebody please explain-do Donald Sutherland and Glenn Close now work full-time as public-address announcers at the Kodak Theatre, or was that simply a one-night stand? Hidden behind that giant desk and retro mikes the size of toaster ovens, they looked like a middle-aged couple playing The Match Game .

Freaked by the popularity of the informal, Rotary Club–style Golden Globes, the academy continues to let its hair down. The whole backstage concept was daffy; like a lot of other television (say, ESPN), Oscar has fallen in love with its own behind-the-scenes-ness. Where once there was mystery, now there’s repetition. Here’s what Jennifer Connelly looks like backstage! Which is-exactly as she looked onstage 10 seconds ago!

The Kodak, parked inside what appears to be the White Plains Galleria, is an odd cocktail of old-world design and slick, modern accouterment. The place was truly built for TV: more lights, fewer seats, narrower aisles, better intimacy. Some touches were nifty, like the paterre boxes-but even those seemed a little ersatz, like the digitized Coliseum shots in Gladiator. And watching those repeated shots of an airborne Sidney Poitier and his children, it started to feel like the Kennedy Center Honors. Paging Beverly Sills! One Kodak exec, in a bit of pre-show, Michael Cimino–like hubris, suggested the ceremony might be shorter than usual this year, since the chairs were closer to the stage. As Chuck Barris would say: Gong !

Amid the Oscar bizarre and Oscar unspeakable-Julia (“I love my life”) Roberts, you half-expected her to plug the DVD of Ocean’s 11 -there were a few great moments. Mr. Poitier was great, and as for Ms. Berry, we don’t care if she looked for about 30 seconds as if she were about to twinkle off into Blanche DuBois land, we loved every bit of that genuine, well-deserved burst from the heart. It’ll be a cold day before NYTV rents Training Day , but bully for Denzel, too. Woody Allen was funny, and you could tell he wrote his own jokes, since they were, well, good. People seemed to really dig the stark Errol Morris short with the gallimaufry of celebrities and bona fide New Yorkers yapping about their favorite movies-though, modeled after Mr. Morris’ recent commercials for United Airlines, it did start to look like a … United Airlines commercial. Mr. Morris-who has been repeatedly snubbed by Oscar, never even nominated-is a sage, and it’s about time Hollywood started paying attention to his work. But let’s just say that until Sunday night, even the Academy Awards were, for 74 years, Donald Trump free.

Tonight on TBS, War Games . [TBS, 8, 9 p.m.]

Thursday, Mar. 28

Thongs for the memories, ABC! On Monday, March 25, the Federal Communications Commission dismissed viewer complaints charging that ABC violated governmental decency standards when it aired that big Victoria’s Secret underwear-palooza last year.

The racy special got a big rating, but it had its jaw-dropped detractors: Organizations including the National Organization of Women and various conservative groups urged underwear-offended viewers to write to the feds and complain. A ruling against ABC, of course, would have sent a chill down the spine of already-shivering supermodels everywhere.

To determine indecency, according to a letter by F.C.C. investigations and hearings division chief Charles Kelley written in response to the complaint, the agency examines the accused subject’s “explicit or graphic nature,” whether it “dwells on or repeats at length descriptions of sexual or excretory organs or activities” (yikes), or whether the questioned material “appears to pander or is used to titillate or shock.” These are standards for broadcast material, of course, not cable-held to these rules, the creators of South Park or Real Sex would be doing hard time in Folsom State Prison.

But the F.C.C. ruled that viewers had not made an adequate case that ABC, in showing toothpicks strutting down a runway in paper napkins, had violated the standards.

“Based on the information you and other complainants have provided to us, you have not demonstrated that the sexual aspect of the material was, in context, so graphic or explicit as to be patently offensive,” Mr. Kelley wrote in a ruling that will no doubt be quoted by the Rupert Murdochs and Craig Kilborns of the world for generations to come. “While we understand that you are offended by the programming described, it does not appear that we have any basis for action at this time.” Viva Heidi Klum!

ABC had no comment on the FCC ruling. Tonight on ABC, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire . No one moaned when Regis had his Victoria’s Secret models on. [WABC, 7, 9 p.m.]

Friday, Mar. 29

The Metro Channel-which is known around here as the “Michael Musto Network,” because the devilish Voice columnist’s unfairly zapped style show, New York Central , still airs ’round the clock, like a haunted skein of Who’s the Boss es-finally announced what it’s going to run once Mr. Musto and his dear colleague, Lori Kramer, depart the air.

The answer: hot legs on catwalks! Surprise, surprise: Starting on April 1, Metro will go completely Euro by expanding the only show it’s managed to turn into a franchise: Full Frontal Fashion. FFF, the sometimes-bitchy clothesfest with hosts Judy Licht, Robert Verdi, Christina Ha and Hal Rubenstein, will grow to two nights a week. The network says its coverage will include “runway shows from around the world.”

Alert the F.C.C.! Today on the Metro Channel, catch To Live and Date in New York , which is quickly evolving into How Not to Live and Date in New York , particularly if it involves going for cocktails at Sushi Samba with 400 khaki-wearing investment bankers. Hansom cabs for everyone! [MET, 70, 9 p.m.]

Saturday, Mar. 30

On the Disney Channel tonight, The Next Karate Kid. While you’re at it, next kid, go find the first one. [DIS, 49, 8 p.m.]

Sunday, Mar. 31

Delayed for far too long, America’s Sarah Silverman fixation begins with the launch of Greg the Bunny , a clever Fox sitcom about talking puppets in a fictional puppet show. Look, not everyone can be in A Beautiful Mind , O.K.? [WNYW, 5, 8:30 p.m.]

Monday, April 1

You know, people think that Bill O’Reilly wants to write ten best-sellers, beat out Hillary Clinton for Senate and retire poolside in Beverly Hills with pals Sean Penn and George Clooney, but what he really wants is to help the kids. Every last one of them.

So first up, Mr. O’Reilly is demanding that we adults keep our smutty movies, our filthy-mouthed record albums and our trashy TV shows away from easy-to-influence young ‘uns. His mellow-titled special, The Corruption of the American Child -which airs on Thursday, March 29-lays his strategy on the line.

Mr. O’Reilly, as you might expect, is no Jonathan Kozol, quietly wandering through broken-down schoolhouses and lamenting the collapse of the Great Society. He thinks we need to cut the crap. “The free-enterprise system is robbing children of their childhood!” Mr. O’Reilly roars at the start of the special.

Holy Engels! The same free-enterprise system, of course, pays Mr. O’Reilly millions for his O’Reilly Factor TV show, and drives his employer, Fox, to crank out Peabody-winning material like its upcoming reality-TV special featuring women who want to pose for Playboy .

But Mr. O’Reilly doesn’t spare Fox in his special, which includes interviews with the usual punching bags like Marilyn Manson, Insane Clown Posse, Def Jam honcho Russell Simmons and Linda McMahon, the wife of W.W.F. loony Vince McMahon. It also features a lot of funny narration from Mr. O’Reilly, including: “The rapper in this video is flaunting his multiple one-night stands.”

Mr. O’Reilly told NYTV: “We’ll let the audience decide what they want to do about this stuff. But it’s certainly a very challenging world for any little child, that’s for sure.”

But don’t acts like Marilyn Manson-currently in minute 16, by the way-simply feast on detractors like Mr. O’Reilly, since they get free publicity and ramp up their bad-boy image? If Mr. O’Reilly wanted Marilyn Manson or the Stupid Clown Bunch- whatever- gone, shouldn’t he just ignore them?

“Yes, but then we censor the newsmen,” Mr. O’Reilly said. “That’s what the networks have been doing forever. Censoring the news, basically-saying ‘Let’s ignore guys like O’Reilly.’”

Of course, Mr. O’Reilly never painted his face black and white and released an album called Beverly Kills 50187 or a song called “Santa’s a Fat Bitch.” Mr. O’Reilly, by the way, wouldn’t have asked the government to slap ABC for the Victoria’s Secret thingie.

“I don’t want the government censoring anything,” he said. “I think this is an issue for the [American?] people to decide.”

Hmmm. Seems like everyone we know says, “To hell with the corruption of the American child-let’s rent American Pie 2. ” Mr. O’Reilly agrees the populace is numb.

“They’re asleep,” he said. “Hopefully this special will wake them up. I gotta compete with Will & Grace , so I don’t know how many people are going to wake up.”

Red alert, kiddies! Will & Grace , is about, well, you know . Incidentally, Mr. O’Reilly had super-mom Rosie O’Donnell on his program the other night, and the two of them hit it off like David Gest and Liza Minnelli. “Yeah,” Mr. O’Reilly said, “we’re going to be going down to Key West together.”

Tonight on Fox, the raunchy-as-all-heck American Embassy. [WNYW, 5, 9 p.m.]

Tuesday, April 2

Tonight on NBC, Watching Ellie. How’s that Wayne Brady pilot comin’? [WNBC, 4, 8:30 p.m.]