Commentary: Celebrity misbehaving sinks to a new low at the Oscars

David Arquette

David Arquette

Just when you thought Hollywood couldn’t come up with a better way to describe “pathetic,” along came David Arquette.

From now on, when a celebrity of any kind has sunk to new depths, it will be referred to as “a David Arquette.”

If you need to use it in a sentence, it would go something like this: “Wow, I can’t believe he pulled a David Arquette.”

This addition to the Hollywood lexicon came only a week ago at the Oscars. Well, not exactly at the Oscars. You would never find this Arquette “at the Oscars.” But I once thought that I’d never find the 41-year-old actor backstage at the Oscars, either.

If you haven’t heard by now, Arquette was credentialed for the backstage media room through the Howard Stern satellite-radio show. It is astonishing that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, with security concerns that border on textbook paranoia, would issue credentials to Stern’s show. What is more astonishing is that Arquette would agree to be a part of Stern’s mockery of an awards show that honors Arquette’s chosen profession.

I suppose that with the demise of his marriage to Courteney Cox, and his acting career in a shambles, he felt he had no choice but to pull a David Arquette (although he probably didn’t use that phrase).

No one noticed him at first.

Hundreds of reporters are packed like sardines at long tables that fill a hotel meeting room, There is barely room for your laptop. You have to leave the room to straighten your bow tie. It’s really cramped.

Almost everyone is on a severe deadline — my editor was begging for my story, and Ben Affleck had just walked into the room — and writers are pounding out stories, even as winners are paraded through the room to answer questions.

The way it works backstage is that each media person is issued a card with a number on it. When an Oscar winner is brought backstage, those wishing to ask a question raise their numbers and wait for an academy representative to call on them. It looks a lot like an auction, and poor best-actress winner Jennifer Lawrence panicked when she saw the numbers shoot in the air. She was convinced that bidding had begun for her statuette, and that it would be taken from her. She has a great sense of humor.

Not everyone gets to ask the winners a question. Sometimes, the winners are hustled through the room and only a few questions can be asked, so the questions should at least try to be serious.

In Arquette’s defense, silly questions were being asked long before the actor arrived on the scene. And I’m not even talking about the “How do you feel?” or “Where do you plan to keep your Oscar?” questions.

There are media people backstage with personal agendas, whether it is to get supporting-actor winner Christoph Waltz to say something in German for the readers back in the Fatherland, or to invite Affleck and George Clooney to a State Department function, which a writer from the State Department’s in-house newsletter told me was her only reason for being there. I’m not kidding. She took up valuable time just to ask them to attend, which they jokingly declined. Oh, by the way, Waltz refused to speak in German for the reporters, saying it got him in trouble the last time he won an Oscar.

I’ll take the German reporters and the woman from the State Department any day compared with Arquette.

The first time anyone realized he was there was when he asked the first question of Waltz. Arquette made sure to introduce himself as a fellow actor and whined about Waltz having two Oscars and he (Arquette) having nothing to show after 23 years in the business.

Everyone at my table suddenly looked up from their computer screens. “Did he say David Arquette?” someone asked.

I hate to say it, but some of the assembled media might even have been a little star-struck, apparently having never met an actual Hollywood star. To them, Arquette was close enough.

The welcome wore thin as the actor started to hog the question sessions with moronic queries that I will not bother you with at this time. Clearly, he was putting on a show, and wasting precious time.

After his third round of questions — after the first, he was warned to limit his questions and not to engage in a conversation with the winners — the academy reps finally ignored him.

He waved his card frantically as the big names entered the room, but no one would call on him. Even after the winners left the room, Arquette was still standing, holding his number aloft.

It was truly pathetic. He had pulled a David Arquette.

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