Sportsman's Daily


Academy To Add New Category in 2010: Best Performance by an Athlete in a Supporting Role

Academy looks to increase cross-over appeal; Athletes begin gearing up for 2010 Oscar campaign

oscars statue

Barely recognizable dressed as a towering Oscar statuette, Shaquille O'Neal goes unnoticed outside the Kodak theater. "It's a pity that more athletes haven't found the right role or the right vehicle," said Sid Ganis. "Shaq is a rarity -- he knows which roles play to his limitations as an actor. In the coming years, we fully expect athletes to play more to their strengths than their limitations, as they have greater incentive to actually learn their craft."

HOLLYWOOD, CA (Sportsman's Daily Wire Service) — On this one glittering night, the worlds of movies, music and fashion – even politics – come together, putting over one billion viewers around the world at the center of the entertainment universe. But according to some film industry insiders, there is a gaping black hole at the center of this universe, a hole several highly placed Academy members hope to fill well before next year’s Oscars rolls around.

“You look out over the crowd and you see the Tom Fords, the Jay-Z’s, people from all four corners of the entertainment world, but what you don’t see are the Shaqs, the A-Rods, the Tom Bradys, guys with major star power who are conspicuous by their absence,” said Sid Ganis, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “It does the public and the Academy a disservice when we’re not putting our best product out there.”

According to Ganis, it’s more than simply planting sports celebrities next to Brad, Kate or Meryl – or decorating films with marquee athletes who can’t act, just to add more luster to Hollywood’s annual orgy of onanistic self-congratulation. “We need to do a better job of integrating sports superstars into the Hollywood infrastructure. In the past we made the mistake of casting no talent stiffs like Jim Brown and Joe Namath in leading roles, thinking their on-field charisma would translate to the screen. It didn’t. We need to go beyond just casting jocks and encourage them to take the time to develop their craft before appearing on screen looking like lost, lumbering idiots.”

In a move designed to motivate athletes and their agents to develop their on screen skills, the Academy established a new Oscar category – best performance by an athlete in a supporting role.

“I wish they had something like this years ago, before my client, Brett Favre, appeared in ‘Something About Mary,’” said his agent Bus Clark. “When they offered it I said, sure, it will introduce him to a new audience and expand our endorsement opportunities. But when I saw the rushes I knew we were in trouble. To say that Brett was wooden is an insult to every self-respecting two by four.”

Dozens of NBA, NHL and MLB players immediately responded by hiring acting, speech and charm coaches, though Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman viewed the development with skepticism.

“We let players and their agents know that acting coaches are strictly banned from the locker room. But if several guys want to use the weight room to run lines, there’s nothing we can do. I don’t see anything good coming of this, unless of course you’re the lucky bastard going to the Vanity Fair after party with a gold statue in your hand. The last time I left anywhere with an Oscar was when I was leaving the clubhouse with Oscar Gamble.”

Alex Rodriguez is, unsurprisingly, on record as wanting to pursue a career in Hollywood. “As fans have known for a while now, when I’m not failing in the clutch, my feet are planted firmly in the batter’s box…but my heart’s in Tinseltown. My agent has sent me several scripts, but nothing feels right. My goal is to find a quality project, maybe a solid indie film, build up my resume, then do what I wanted to do from the first time I put wood on a ball -- direct.”

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