Wednesday, January 28, 2009

leveraging the ordinary

Back in November at work (when I was still working) we received promotional junk from TNT to promote another one of its new series, Leverage. It stars Timothy Hutton, and TNT wants to remind everyone that he's an Oscar winner, though it's been approximately 57 years since he won the Best Supporting Actor award for Ordinary People.

I saw that movie for the first time in October, knowing Hutton had won for Best Supporting Actor, but I was surprised to see that he plays the main character. Then I wondered if Donald Sutherland, who plays his father, was nominated for Best Actor.

Studios will often trumpet a lead actor in a film for a Best Supporting Actor or Actress nomination if they think another lead in the same film has a better chance at a Best Actor or Actress nomination—they don't want the nominees canceling each other out. An example that immediately comes to mind is John Travolta being nominated for Best Actor for 1994's Pulp Fiction and Samuel L. Jackson getting a nod for Supporting Actor, even though their characters share equal time and stature in Quentin Tarantino's film.

I think I've even read that some actors have it written into their contracts that those "For Your Consideration" ads that take up so much space in Variety during awards season only promote them, not their costars, for Best Actor or Actress. I definitely remember reading that trade-paper ads like the ridiculous one that asked Academy voters to take a second look at Sylvester Stallone in the 1996 disaster movie Daylight are the product of contractual agreements. (Stallone did get a nomination—for Worst Actor at that year's Razzie Awards, but he lost to Tom Arnold and Pauly Shore, who tied.)

Back to Ordinary People. I looked at the movie's page on IMDB and saw that Sutherland wasn't nominated for Best Actor, though Mary Tyler Moore, who's impressive as Hutton's mother, was nominated for Best Actress. I assume that Paramount, who produced the film, was hoping for a Best Actor nomination for Sutherland and it didn't come through. Judd Hirsch was nominated alongside Hutton as Best Supporting Actor, but they obviously didn't cancel each other out.

And now back to Leverage. The promotional junk we received at the Chicago Reader included an energy drink with the series' name and a picture of the cast wrapped around the can. It's the Leverage beverage! "Fuel up for TNT's newest high energy drama series," the can says, so I did.

Or at least I tried. I'd never had a Red Bull or any other kind of energy drink before, so when I poured the 8.3 fluid ounces of liquid Leverage into a glass, I was both mesmerized and repulsed by its resemblance to radioactive urine. I used to like Mountain Dew and Mello Yello, but I always drank them from the can—"out of sight, out of mind" is the best course of action you can take with those yellowish-green soft drinks.

I took one sip of the Leverage beverage and realized something important: I wasn't missing out all those years I didn't try Red Bull. I'm sure it's a taste one acquires over time, like Diet Coke or mass murder, but I'd rather waste my time doing and tasting other things. I poured out the rest of the Leverage beverage, scrubbed the glass clean, and went back to being an ordinary, award-free citizen.


  1. 57 years? Heh. Way to double the actual years. Though Tim does sometimes look like he could have lived 57 years in that time. But give him a break. The man survived marriage to Debra Winger. That's got to count for something. :)

  2. I was trying to exaggerate the number of years it's been since "Ordinary People" came out, but you're right, all I did was double the actual number. I'm not making fun of Hutton for not having won an Oscar since 1981, I'm making fun of TNT for advertising their show as starring "Oscar winner Timothy Hutton." Do viewers care? I doubt it. But I appreciate you leaving a comment all the same, Mr. Hutton. When were you married to Ms. Winger?

  3. All the nets with award winners headlining shows do that. They do it for Holly Hunter as well. Shall I answer for him on the Winger question or are you suggesting no one would care anything about him at all so he must troll the internet to respond to blogs? :) I loved Hutton in Ordinary People and he is quite good here, but I watch for Christian Kane. And the humor.

  4. No no no, I'm not making fun of Hutton at all here, though I do think he would've been better off without that Oscar. It's often not a good thing to win one so early in your career.

    I haven't seen "Leverage" yet, but I hope it does well for Hutton's sake.