Jamie Foxx won best actor for his masterly portrayal of the rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles in Ray. A joyous Mr. Foxx, 37, tearfully recalled how his grandmother-“my first acting teacher”-told him how to carry himself, to “act like you got some sense” and beat him when he did not.
“Now she talks to me in my dreams …. And I can’t wait to go to sleep tonight because we got a lot to talk about.”
– The New York Times,
Feb. 28, 2005
Open on image of JAMIE FOXX’s sleeping head on pillow; Oscar statuette visible on bedside table. Audio of FOXX’s Oscar acceptance speech heard in background, mingled with “dreamlike” music.
GRANDMA’S FACE appears above bed, framed in wispy cloud-like halo.
FOXX’s eyes open; is he awake or dreaming? Seeing GRANDMA, he breaks out into smile, says, “I did it, Grandma-I won! I won the Oscar!”
“Shut up, fool!” says GRANDMA, scowling. “What is wrong with you? What did I tell you about boastin’?”
“Uhh … uhh … I know, Grandma. But this is my moment-being recognized for my talents as an actor. One reason I did it was to make you proud.”
“Proud? You ain’t makin’ me proud, but you might make me sick! You’re just a Hollywood phony like the rest of them. Git here, son, I’m gonna give you a whuppin’! I’m gonna kick your ignorant ass clear back to Booty Call …. “
FOXX looks alarmed. GRANDMA grabs his hand and they are suddenly outside; we see that FOXX is wearing golden silk pajamas. GRANDMA points to a tree.
“Now go get me a switch to hit ya with.”
“But, Grandma …. “
“I ain’t foolin’!”
FOXX breaks off a small branch and hands it to GRANDMA; she starts swatting at his behind with it, chasing him around the yard.
“Stop movin’ so I can whip ya, you ( swat!) ungrateful child … playin’ a ( swat!) heroin shooter in Ray, shootin’ all that junk ( swat!) up your arm …. Then you think you can drag me into your phony Oscar speech ( swat!), so all them people can think, ‘ Oooh, he’s so real, he got himself one of those tough but sweet old black grannies from central casting’ … Well, I’m gonna put you in a real cast when I catch ahold a ya … !”
FOXX runs in circles, chased by GRANDMA.
“And I don’t want to hear nothin’ more ( swat!) about that damn Oprah. Her eyes better be watchin’ God, because He’s gonna give her a whuppin’ if she don’t quit humpin’ for that Scientologist freak Travolta, who ain’t made a good pitcher since that baby talked. And who Oprah think she is, givin’ away $14,000 refrigerators to white lady schoolteachers from St. Louis? Who she think she foolin’? Because she ain’t foolin’ Grandma!”
“Ow! Ouch! Damn, Grandma! That hurt!”
“Damn right it did. And when I get through with you, I’m goin’ over to whup Hilary Swank’s ass. Cracker-ass bitch think she can fight? She gonna wish she was in that wheelchair.”
“Where you goin’, Grandma? I wanna keep dreamin’ about you! Come back!”
Artstar is not a reality show, because the producers say it isn’t. No one gets fired in the board room, voted off the island or has their pop-star dreams squashed by a sour Brit in a tight black T-shirt. Yet over 300 artists lined up outside Deitch Projects on Wooster Street Monday, hoping to be selected for what Artstar’s Web site bills as “the first-ever unscripted television series set in the New York art world.” They were told they could bring as many as five samples of their artwork with them; and here they were, waiting for hours for a minute-long chance to show their stuff to a panel of judges that included gallery owner Jeffrey Deitch, curator James Fuentes, Artforum critic David Rimanelli, artist Alan Vega (also a member of the band Suicide), and several other critics and curators.
“I think people do assume that it’s a lowest-common-denominator, Apprentice-type show,” said Artstar producer Abby Terkuhle, who served as executive producer on MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head, Daria and Celebrity Deathmatch. “Our challenge is to be credible with the art community and still make compelling television. If we do our job right, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Freelance TV producer and artist Christopher Sperandio and Mr. Fuentes came up with the initial premise. “It’s a great opportunity for a field that is designed for a select few to be opened up to a larger audience,” said Mr. Fuentes, who is director of Lombard-Freid Fine Arts. Later, Mr. Deitch-known for taking chances on young artists and art-rock groups like Fischerspooner-jumped on board, along with Mr. Terkuhle.
MTV was pitched; they passed. Gallery HD-a visual-arts channel on the Voom Network-committed to a pilot. But then word came that Cablevision might be dropping Voom, so the show is up for grabs at the moment. It may also run in other countries or eventually be released as a DVD.
After Monday’s open call, 30 artists were selected for the second day. By the end of this week, with the cameras rolling continuously, a cast of eight will be selected. If the show is bought, seven more episodes will be filmed. The cast will get a group show at Deitch Projects, and one artist will possibly be selected for a solo show.
It’s not exactly clear what form the show will take. Artists stretching canvas? Manipulating video images? Drinking beer in Williamsburg and gossiping about Tracey Emin? But it will certainly be … visual. “I think the art world is exotic enough, we don’t need to try to make it stranger than it is,” said Mr. Sperandio. “I just saw eight guys in a giant head roll down the sidewalk. How can you top that?”
And, after chatting with some of the would-be art stars who auditioned on Monday, it became clear that-the show’s high-minded aspirations notwithstanding-the end product might indeed offer the kind of madcap fun provided by Puck stealing Pedro’s peanut butter on The Real World.
“Basically, the work that we do is visceral, ephemeral architecture,” said Laidie Magenta, half of a performance-art duo called Showroom-XS.
“Right now, my work would be considered abstract,” said a 32-year-old artist named Aurora. “I’m working on a body of work that is based on forms from nightmares that I had when I was a little kid-like 6 years old-where these chaotic knots would sort of encroach on me, and these blobs would emerge from them. What happened is my modus operandi has developed as such that I would try to subjugate the negative and turn these forms into something beautiful.”
“I give form to emotions that are basically formless,” said Angi, a Chelsea artist. “My whole approach is to understand existence and my environment.”
“There’s a lot of biology and sort of visceral stuff going on in my work,” said Aaron, 29. “I sort of try to think of how the humanist biological organism is filtered through society and civilization, and how that ends up being consumerist products. How hunger and sex drive and lust and fear and all these sort of animal instincts can translate into things like production of hamburgers, or production of military tanks and guns.”