updated 02/27/2010 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 02/28/2010 AT 9:00 AM ET
It was like watching a train wreck. Or, more precisely, a Carr crash.
Flamboyant producer Allan Carr, responsible for such excesses as the hit movie musical Grease and the dead-in-its-tracks disco flick Can’t Stop the Music, spearheaded 1989’s 61st Academy Awards and ended up delivering what is roundly considered the cheesiest Oscar show ever, the one that kicked off with an off-key Rob Lowe singing “Proud Mary” to a ditsy Snow White – and prompted the Walt Disney Company to threaten legal action.
But, as Variety senior editor Robert Hofler points out in his fair-minded new bio of the late impresario, Party Animals: A Hollywood Tale of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll Starring the Fabulous Allan Carr, which Da Capo Press is publishing Tuesday, so many Carr touches from that night 21 years ago morphed into traditional Oscar-show staples that the Academy might even consider showing Carr some belated love.
Among Carr’s flourishes: the fashion procession before the event, extended red-carpet coverage, separation of clips from the Best Picture nominees (rather than showing them in a cluster), and altering the line from “And the winner is ” (so as not to imply there are losers) to “And the Oscar goes to ”
Good Ratings, to Boot
On top of which, his “worst show ever” attracted 42.7 million TV viewers – compared to 33.6 million last year, up six percent from 2008.
Still, as an aging VHS clip on YouTube documents, the overdone opening number – in addition to stunning audience members Tom Hanks and Sigourney Weaver, its finale planted a giant replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre atop a woman’s head – manages to make even Lady Gaga seem understated.
The Academy was not amused. Its Old Guard went so far as to petition that future Oscarcasts return dignity to the proceedings, while Disney required and received a public apology for the perceived besmirching of Snow White’s imagine.