10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 18, 1998
... ...;.. ... ; -...... . . . - - - .. - . .. - - .. ..
F: 'Brown' ows u
Los Angeles imes
There ias a jumble of emotions at
the filming of the last half-hour of the
once-formidable "Murphy Brown" -
and an unintended sadness to its final
After 10 seasons, 18 Emmys and 245
episodes, the CBS series that intermin-
gled laughter with serious, smart story
Monday, May 18
lines -and was,
at its 1992 rtings
peak.the talk of
the nation and
more than a Ifoot-
note to a presi-
- is coming to a
Not with a
doing but rather
like some other
out at the end of a
long and, in this case, honored run.
In the last scene, there is Candice
Bergen as the indomitable Murphy,
standing on an inner balcony in her
Washington townhouse, saying proudly
that 30 million viewers "tune in to see
me every week," as she anchors the
weekly newsmagazine "FYI." Yet in its
ninth season, "Murphy Brown" aver-
aged less than half that - 14.4 million
viewers. And thus far this year, it has
averaged 10.5 million viewers, placing
it in a tie for 76th place among prime-
The series returns to the air Monday
nights for five more half-hours, begin-
ningApril 6,and for the hourlong finale
An audience of family and friends,
including CBS Television President
Leslie Moonves, watched Friday night
as the "Murphy Brown" core cast was
introduced before the final taping at
Warner Bros. Studios --- the actors all
appearing to work hard at self-restraint.
Faith Ford -- the ever-perky Corky
Sherwood - walked out head held
2 high, tissue in hand.
Charles Kimbrough - the team's
stuffy veteran anchor Jim Dial
bowed his head.
Joe Regalbuto - Frank f'ontana.
Murphy's best buddy, the investigative
reporter with lousy self-confid(lence -
fairly jumped out onstage, then turned
and hugged Kimbrough.
Lil T1omlin -"Y's" acerbic exe c-
utive producer. Ky Carter-Shepey ftr
the last two seasons - clapped hands
high over her head, then blew kisses to
And finally therewas Bergen-who
is so identified with her eponymous
role as the fearless, wisecracking news-
woman that people sometimes slip and
call her Murphy. In this last season,
Bergen gave new diniension to
Murphy's persona as her character bat-
tIed breast cancer.
The actress bowed and was suddenly
shaking. It first appeared that she was
laughing - until Tomlin put her arm
about her shoulders and Bergen dabbed
at her eye.
But that blip of emotion was quickly
over, and the actors went to work.
Appropriately, the last episode was
written by Diane English, the
series'ereator and its executive produc-
er during its first four seasons. English
has a cameo role as a nurse who talks to
Murphy as she comes out of anesthesia.
Suffice to say, Murphy undergoes
Others in the hourlong finale - the
first half-hour was shot a week earlier
- include Julia Roberts a.; herself;
Bette Midler as Murphy's 93rd secre-
tary; Frances Bergen, who is Candice's
mother, as Murphy's mother; reporter
Mike Wallace as himself; executive
producer Marc Flanagan; Robert
Pastorelli reprising his role as house
painter Eldin; a grinning, wordless
George Clooney; and Alan King in the
role of God. Murphy gets her dream
wish - she interviews God.
At one point, English, standing ofl'to
the side, was asked whether she thought
then-Vice President Dan Quayle's
attack on Murphy for having a baby out
of wedlock was the series' high point.
"No," she replied, "it was the low
When their work was done. cast
members did marathon quiek-tamke
interviews with print and I1 V reporters.
Cake and champagne went untouched
as they sat close to one another on
I urphy's living room couch.
I he last show was or hard."
Kimbrough said. "We all wa ned it to be
special. It's our last chance to et e\ cr -
"We wcre all kind of emotional bas-
Let cases for a while toda'? Ford >aud.
"We lidn't think we could get throgh
it. We kept rehearsing, rehearsini ,
rehearsing today. We actually did a little
rehearsal all by ourselves in the dinner
Part of the problem, she said. was that
the actors didn't receive the penultimate
scene in the newsroom bullpen, in
which their characters share their feel-
ings towlard one another, until 7 p.m.
The other issue, Tomlin explained,
wvas that what they were saying before
the cameras mirrored their personal
feelings: "In the context of the show. we
were going to continue FYI.' In reality,
we were saying the same kinds of
things" they were feeling as the series
"When Candice says that last line in
the bullpen"- that she thanks God for
the gift of giving her "FYI" -- "that
was the killer. It was hard looking at her
when we were sitting around the table.
Because we all (feel that way). This has
been a life-changing experience. It's
been a joy beyond words," said
Bergen, who seemed content to let
the others do the talking, called
"Murphy Brown"i a gift and said the
scene was so "beautifully written" in
summing up their feelings that the
"challenge was just to get through it. "
Asked what she would be doing the
next day. Bergen said she planned to
take her 12-year-old daughter, Chloc. to
a track meet and probably a movie.
[hen she'd go to the cast wrap party
Saturday night - "and I'll probably be
in a coma on Sunday."
By Prashant Tamaskar
! )Z is Writer
As Kasi I.emmons watched the
Academy Award nomination cere-
nmny on telev ision, the young film-
maker must have thrown up her
hads up in disgust.
While "Titanic" was busy racking
up a record-tying 14 nominations,
her debut directorial effort, "Eve's
Bayou" - - despite excellent reviews
(Roger Ebert named it as his best
film of 1997) and modest box office
success -- was overlooked in every
Ang Lee, director of "The lee
Storm," and a nominee in 1995 for
"Sense and Sensibility," must have
had a similar reaction as his critical-
ly acclaimed film found itself
empty-handed from Oscar.
Even Sigourney Weaver, after
recciving a Golden Globe nomina-
tion for her chilling performance in
the movie, was left in the cold.
What happened to Lemmons, Lee
and their respective movies is
becoming a new Academy Award
traditon in itself: the snub. Every
year numerous deserving films and
performers are ignored, forced to
watch the festivities at home, and not
in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
This year is no exception.
While the people's choice
("Titanic"), the critics' choice ("L.
A. Confidential") and the world's
choice ("The Full Monty") were
all selected in the Best Picture Y
category, there were a few
notable omissions, the '
most conspicuous of
which were the much-tout-
ed "Amistad" and the too-
close-to-life "Wag the Dog."
Other desering moes
may hae been passed IP
because of varying circum-
Perhaps because ofthe uproam' j
caused by last year's "The
People vs. Lariy Flyn:t. voter t
chose not to honor "Booie
N1ihts:'1997's movie about the
potn industry. "In thee
( olpanm of Men" was
also probably too risque'
View," (1986) "Howard's End"
(1992) and "The Remains of the
An early March release date cer-
tainly hurt "Donnie Brasco," which
was probably a distant memory
come voting time.
Finally, the poignant drama
"Ulee's Gold" may not have been
seen by enough Academy members
to be considered.
The category of Best Director fea-
tured a couple of surprises with
Atom Egoyan's very deserving nom-
ination for "The Sweet Hereafter"
(another film worthy of Best Picture
consideration), and the snubbing of
James L. Brooks ("As Good As It
Gets") and Steven Spielberg for
Brooks, the only director of a
Best Picture candidate not to be
nominated, warranted consideration
over Gus van Sant, the maverick
filmmaker whose work in "Good
Will Hunting" is by far the most con-
ventional and boring of his career.
The Best Actor category features
some heavyweight names like Jack
Nicholson ("As Good As It Gets"),
Robert Duvall ("The Apostle"),
Peter Fonda ("Ulee's Gold") and
Dustin Hoffman ("Wag the Dog").
But a pair of Academy favorites
were surprisingly passed up. Daniel
Day-Lewis, twice a nominee and
once a winner (for "My Left
Foot"), did not receive a nomina-
tion for his skillful work in "The
A greater disappointment
was the failure to honor Al
Pacino for his portrayal of
Lefty, an aging working-stiff
gangster in "Donnie Brasco,"
Pacino, who, at times tends to
caricature himself because of
<r his unnecessary bravado, turns
in a subtle, restrained, moving
performance in his best work in
Also overlooked from"Donnie
Brasco" was Johnny Depp as the
title character. According to the
real-life person lie por-
Holm's in "The Sweet Ilereafter."
Holm, playing a civil law yer
brought to a small town haunted by a
bus accident, captures all of the
nuances of an extremely complex
character. He mamagcs to be the
film's hero and villain, while
remaining a sympathetic figure.-
Holm most certainly deserved to be
recognized for his brilliant take.
Surprisingly, there was only one
notable omission in the Best Actress
category. Two-time winner Jodie
Foster turned in a typically stellar
performance in "Contact," which
definitely warranted greater consid-
eration than her last nominated cflbrt
The fact that few performers were
snubbed points more to the death of
solid lead roles for females than to
the ability of the Academy to choose
the most worthy candidates.
The Best Supporting Actor cate-
gory, which is always extremely
competitive, featured perhaps the.
most surprising oversight. None of
the male performers from "L. A.
Confidential" were nominated. Tile
ensemble cast, which includes Guy
Pearce and Russell Crowe (both who
may have been up for lead actors),
Kevin Spacey, James Cromwell and
Danny Devito, deserve special
recognition for their unforgettable
work. The fact that all of them were
overlooked is tragic.
Another worthy performer forgot-
ten on nomination day was Rupert
Everitt, the highlight of "My Best
Friend's Wedding." Perhaps the con-
servative Academy, who already rece-
ognized Greg Kinnear for "As Good..
As It Gets," felt that two gay por-
trayals would have been too many.
Finally, for Best Supporting
Actress, a few deserving candidates
were seemingly forgotten.
Anne Heche, who in "Donnie
Brasco" plays a womanwhose life i,
wrecked by her husband's devotiem
to his job, was also hurt by the film's
early release (and perhaps her sexual
orientation). Patricia Richardson of
"Ulee's Gold" may not have been
able to overcome the stigma ofbeing
a television actress. And. Sarah
Policy of "The Sweet Hereafter,"
whose portrayal of dignity in the
face of tragedy, may been over-
looked because of her young age.
Ultimately, voters in the Academy
face an extremely difficult task of
selecting five nominees in each c't-
egory, when so many more are
deserving. But they owe it to thei
filmmakers and performers who
have worked so hard, not to snub
those films and individuals that are
clearly worthy of the industry's most
Films snubbed by Oscar,
Jut always remembered
Today's screenings of the 36th Annual
Ann Arbor Film Festival
3 p.m. (Free)
"in the Course of Human
"Line of Fire"
"But .. They Said They Loved
"Miriam is Not Amused"
"You Are Not the Boss of Me
and Look Who is Fucking
--Screenings are $6 Ir a single
ticket and $j/Ofir two shows. T'he
festival began yestenaV and Iill
colntinue throaigh Sund-v. ittMarch 22.
" .. 1
9:30 p m.
and cuntoversial to be
The image of the
Academy as old
and stutTv could
against the won-
deiul period piece
"The Wings of the
Dove'- which may
hav e been too rein- An
1nsecent of previ-
OLts mintileeS "A
Room With a
analysis of the pri
prejudice of thn
trayed, Depp "captured
me 100 percent --- my
mannerismsn my walk,
my talk." Unfortunately,
the actor's bad boy
image seems to pre-
vent hiii from get-
ti n, proper
other lead per-
formance by an
de and actor of 1997
e that is the equal
of the nomi-
s nees is Ian
If you have a strong
you are invited to
to learn to play the
Burton and Lurie Towers
for the fall term.
Carillon -1 credit
For more information:
When you're up late
studying, and you've got
nothing to do, check out
the Daily Online at
http://www RUbE umich.
edu/daily, and see
what's new at the 'U.'