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Gaga’s Oscar obsession! Fantasia’s casting repercussions! And other deep dish!

HOUSE OF GUCCI’s Lady Gaga

No one wanted an Oscar nomination this year more than Lady Gaga, who had gotten multiple honors for her performance as the scorned and scornful Patrizia in House of Gucci, but was pushed off the edge of glory when the Oscar noms left her out.

I maintain that Gaga wasn’t helped by her relentless Oscar campaign, where she tried to position herself as basically a longstanding actor who occasionally sings. The video interview where she’s touting her credits for the millionth time—the Lee Strasberg Institute, the Stanislavski method, Circle in the Square—comes off like a parody, the kind of self-important prattle Meryl Streep never has to resort to.

It was even worse than Gaga’s last campaign, “There can be 100 people in a room…”, which I heard so many times I can do it as a performance piece. By the time Gaga gets to detailing how she wrote herself a letter saying she wasn’t needed anymore because her character had arrived, costar Salma Hayek is serving up some award-caliber reaction shots.

And the Oscars promptly sent Gaga a letter saying, “Sorry, babe. No dice.”

Comic/writer Bruce Vilanch—who’s worked on many an Oscar telecast—agrees with my assessment and said, “You nailed it. Over-aggressive campaigning. It still could happen.”

And if you need further proof that Gaga craves that golden statue, sources say that when she was up for both Best Actress and Best Song for 2018’s A Star is Born, she would check the prediction site, Goldderby.com (where I’m a predictor) literally six times a day! That’s almost as much as I google myself!

Anyway, Gaga is indeed an Oscar winner—for “Shallow”—but I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes back to campaigning for Grammys for a while. And let me also breathe a loud sigh of relief that the sex scene between Gaga and Hayek—which was Gaga’s idea—was axed by director Ridley Scott. For one thing, that encounter never happened, and for another, we have had more than enough queer villains on the screen, thank you. Don’t worry, Gaga, that wouldn’t have helped the film’s Oscar chances.

Related: Louie Anderson’s gayness! Faye Dunaway’s horror! And other sizzle!

SOMETHING’S COMING

As for someone who was nominated this year:

“Oh, no, Miss Musto, no/You should know better” sang some queens when I wrote that Ariana DeBose (Anita in West Side Story) could be the first openly queer Academy Award winner for acting on March 27. “What about Angelina Jolie?” an awards savvy homosexual chirped, dutifully.

Well, it’s true that before she won Best Supporting Actress in 2000 for Girl, Interrupted, Angelina had talked on the record about having loved a woman, but as someone else then pointed out, she doesn’t identify as bisexual, so she doesn’t really qualify as “openly queer.” My gray matter is spinning from all this gray area, so let me just qualify my previous remarks by saying that DeBose will definitely be the first openly queer person of color to win an acting Oscar. If she wins.

Fantasia Barrino
Fantasia Barrino

PURPLE REIGN

In potential future Oscar news: The announcement that Fantasia Barrino will star as Celie in the musical movie of The Color Purple startled me, only because I had heard that one of the producers felt Cynthia Erivo (who won a Tony for the 2015 Broadway revival that made her a star) had aged out of the part.

Fantasia happens to be two and a half years older than Cynthia!

But I was still thrilled because in 2007, I saw Fantasia do the role when she replaced LaChanze (who also won a Tony) in the original production, and she was extremely moving and powerful. Fantasia famously had a spotty attendance record in the show, but a movie is a whole other discipline, and her casting is good news, even if she may no longer be the box office name she was in her American Idol days. And I know Erivo had at least one verbal altercation with producer Scott Sanders, which Erivo was not shy about revealing.

In any case, Erivo is the costar (with Ariana Grande) of the Wicked movie that’s scheduled to start shooting in June, so all’s good with that and with the new Color Purple too. I also love the fact that OITNB’s Danielle Brooks, who was an excellent Sofia in the CP revival, will repeat that role for the movie, with co-producer (and onetime Sofia) Oprah Winfrey’s blessing. And Taraji P. Henson will be the sexually liberating Shug Avery, a far cry from Miss Hannigan.

But let’s not water down the bisexual stuff, or I’ll turn the color blue in the face. This time, I want more woman-on-woman action, thank you.

WE GOT TROUBLE

But back to Broadway: When the powers-that-be behind the revival of The Music Man (starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster) bizarrely decreed that critics had to review the opening night performance rather than a preview, one possible reason behind it became clear soon enough.

It managed to throw the press off their usual schedule and bump the print reviews forward a day. Yes, the New York Times and New York Daily News reviews went online soon enough, but they didn’t make the print editions till two days later—on a Saturday, when there are way fewer readers than on a Friday! And–as the producers must have expected–they were pans! Of course, some have suggested that the critics were extra grumpy because they were being told what to do (i.e., go to the opening and then crank out a review).

I don’t know; this is a horrible itch-scratch cycle that’s making me Shipoopi.

ROCK LOBSTERS

Speaking of prestigious honors for groundbreaking artists: Last month, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its new slate of nominees. Not among them were the fabulous B-52’s, who deserve a slot for their subversively wacky forays into kitsch (and kitchen sink) rock. But not to worry. That group’s frontman, Fred Schneider, sardonically posted on Facebook: “Hey, gang, I know we were snubbed by the Rotten Roll Hall of Shame, but I can’t go anyway because I have an important mani/pedi that day.”

Phew! So it all works out! There’s no room for another award in the love shack anyway.

AND FINALLY…

If life is a cabernet, then let me raise my glass and tell you that a certain performer who’s helping out a needy Oscar winner (no, not Gaga) reportedly changes the Oscar winner’s phone number now and then. Ostensibly, this is to weed out people who are “not good for her,” though some in the know are reading a Baby Jane vibe into the whole situation.

One pictures the performer barking at the Oscar winner, “But ya AHH in that chair!”