If the Academy Awards are Sunday night (and they are), then it must be time for that self-imposed ritual known around here as “The Six (or So) Degrees of Oscar Separation.”
The purpose of this annual gauntlet: to demonstrate once again that nearly all entertainment roads lead either to or from Pantagraphland.
You just don’t realize it.
Nor, we suspect, do the nominees.
This year, we have something special in store for this ongoing odyssey:
Irrefutable proof that all of these very same roads lead to “Will & Grace” star Sean Hayes, the Emmy-if-not-Oscar-winning ISU alum receiving his honorary degree today as part of ISU’s own annual ritual, the Founders Day Convocation.
Daniel Day Lewis, best actor nominee for “Lincoln,” won his first Oscar in 1989’s “My Left Foot” … which also won a supporting Oscar for British actress Brenda Fricker … who then moved to Hollywood and made stuff like “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” … which co-starred Joe Pesci … who won his supporting Oscar for “Goodfellas” … which was directed by Martin Scorsese … who won his Oscar for “The Departed” … which co-starred Jack Nicholson … who segued from there to “The Bucket List” … co-starring our own Sean Hayes.
Naomi Watts, best actress nominee for “The Impossible,” had one of her most publicized leading roles in Peter Jackson’s 2005 version of “King Kong,” playing Kong-napped heroine Ann Darrow … which was the role played in the original 1933 “Kong” by Fay Wray … who had just co-starred in 1932’s “The Finger Points” opposite newcomer Clark Gable … who the same year that Wray met Kong, starred in “Dancing Lady,” opposite Fred Astaire, Joan Crawford and The Three Stooges … who, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk, ended up being played in 2012’s “The Three Stooges” by Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe), Will Sasso (Curly) and, you got it, our very own Sean Hayes (Larry).
Robert De Niro, best supporting actor nominee for “Silver Linings Playbook,” starred in Martin Scorsese’s 1983 cult classic, “The King of Comedy” … which co-starred, in one of his best later roles, Jerry Lewis … who (this one was waaaay too easy) was portrayed in the 2002 CBS movie, “Martin & Lewis,” by our own, yes, our very own, Sean Hayes.
Sally Field, best supporting actress nominee for “Lincoln,” won her second Oscar (we liked her, really liked her) in 1984’s “Places in the Heart” … which co-starred and snared a supporting Oscar nomination of ISU theater alum John Malkovich … who met the Coen Bros. at long last in 2008’s “Burn After Reading” … which co-starred IWU theater alum and soon-to-be best actor nominee Richard Jenkins … who joined in on that Twin Cities alumni reunion known as “The Three Stooges” (2012), co-starring ISU alumna Jane Lynch and, oh, yes, indeed, our one and only Sean Hayes.
Denzel Washington, best actor nominee for “Flight,” starred in the 2009 remake of “The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three” … which co-starred, as his nemesis, John Travolta … who, 10 years earlier, had a small role in another remake, “The Thin Red Line” … whose all-star cast included Nick Nolte … who was one of the four-legged voices in 2010’s “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” … which co-starred, as the voice of the dreaded Mr. Tinkles, our honorary own, Sean Hayes.
Finally, we hereby offer a slight variation on our annual attempt to tie an Oscar nominee to our favorite Pantagraphland connection to cinema heritage: 1957’s giant-grasshopper classic, Beginning of the End, in which Paxton and most of Ford/Livingston counties are eaten by radiated bugs the size of Amtrak cars. This year, instead of an Oscar nominee, it’s:
Our very own Emmy-winner Sean Hayes, who earned his award playing Jack McFarland on the long-running “Will & Grace” … whose supporting cast included, as Will’s mother, screen legend Debbie Reynolds … female lead of 1952’s evergreen musical classic “Singin’ in the Rain” … which co-starred Danville native Donald O’Connor … who became the subject of an hour-long edition of A&E’s “Biography” … which was hosted by Peter Graves … whose experiments in an agricultural lab outside of Paxton triggered … the Beginning of the End!