Samuel L Jackson criticises Oscars for sidelining Poitier and losing mystique

The actor, who received an honorary Oscar this year, spoke out against the producers’ handling of the in memoriam section, as well as the choice of presenters

Samuel L Jackson has criticised this year’s Oscars ceremony for its handling of the death of pioneering actor Sidney Poitier, as well as their attempts to reach a wider demographic by expanding the pool of presenters.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Jackson said he was “still a little ticked that the greatest actor we had in Hollywood died and they gave him, what, 10 fucking seconds. No. It should have been a whole Sidney Poitier section.”

Jackson was referring to this year’s in memoriam section of the show, which began with Poiter and devoted 40 seconds to him.

Poitier was also one of three industry favourites – the others being Ivan Reitman and Betty White – whose work was celebrated in a special section featuring song-and-dance.

Yet Jackson remained unimpressed, saying that Poitier’s legacy was sufficiently substantial that the show would have looked very different without his influence.

“The reason Will Packer is producing this show is because of this guy. The reason Will Smith won an Oscar is because of this guy. The reason for Denzel [Washington], the reason for me, the reason for Danny [Glover], the reason for everybody is that guy, and he deserves more than 10 fucking seconds of your time, especially for what he meant, not just to us, but to Hollywood period.

“He gave dignity to Hollywood. He was Hollywood fucking royalty. And he did not get what he deserved out of that fucking show.”

Jackson was presented with an honorary Oscar by Washington at the Governors awards, which were held two days before the main ceremony. The show was not televised, with only brief moments edited into the Sunday evening telecast, which also contained edited speeches given by the winners of eight “craft” awards, presented before the main show.

Jackson contrasted the treatment of these winners, along with his fellow honorary winners Liv Ullmann and Elaine May, with the generous time allotted for new endeavours to celebrate popular films with public-voted prizes.

Asked whether he welcomed the move to invite skateboarders and snowboarders Tony Hawk, Shaun White and Kelly Slater to present a celebration of 60 years of James Bond, Jackson said: “God! No! They have their show. They have the ESPYs. Go do that. This is the night Hollywood celebrates fucking Hollywood.”

He continued: “That thing that we used to have when I was young, watching it and wondering, ‘What am I going to say when I get mine?’ was the glamour of it all, the extravagance, the mystique that is Hollywood. Some of that’s gone.”


Catherine Shoard

The GuardianTramp

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