Hollywood Producer Todd Lieberman On His First Time At The Oscars – Deadline

Editors observe: Todd Lieberman is the Oscar-nominated producer of The Fighter with credit together with Beauty and the Beast, Wonder and The Muppets. A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he contributes occasional visitor columns for Deadline.

Todd Lieberman


I’ll always remember the primary time I attended the Oscars. The glitz, the glamor, the unparalleled present of all reveals. Getting to expertise the majestic great thing about the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The gorgeous cocktail robes and tuxes. To say I used to be intimidated can be an understatement as I had by no means been wherever this filled with necessary and well-known folks. Rubbing elbows with film stars (or in my case, clumsily crashing my elbow into Nicolas Cage) and seeing the who’s who of Hollywood multi functional place – I felt as if I’d reached the Hollywood mountaintop.

It was March 25, 1996, and sure I used to be at that wonderful occasion, however not as an invited visitor; I used to be there to work as a waiter throughout the Governors Ball. Let’s rewind a bit ….

I moved to Los Angeles in May 1995 to pursue the Hollywood dream and slept on the ground of a downtown condominium with 4 buddies, crammed collectively, all with comparable lofty ambitions. And throughout the Christmas-to-New Year’s break once they left city, I remained, broke and lonely. Historically, everybody flees L.A. for the vacations and as a naïve new resident, that grew to become self-evident by counting two complete human interactions over 10 days – a motorbike store clerk (story later) and a man who knocked on my door promoting weed (I declined).

During that meditative/lonely week I tasked myself with two targets: 1. Write a listing of targets. 2. Read two “thinker” books. I rapidly and confidently selected two titles that had been looking at me from the bookshelf: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. Writing a listing of life targets introduced a harder problem however I spent the primary day efficiently brainstorming with no limitations. The outcome included the outlandish (go to the moon), the aspirational (attend the Oscars and speak to a star there) and the achievable (get a job) — however amusingly, my first one to sort out was to experience a unicycle (No. 2 on life targets record proper after “start a family one day”). I didn’t perceive why, however the pull of these books and the unicycle was robust that day. Luckily, my grandfather had despatched me $100 for the vacations and slightly than wise purchases like meals, I sought out a useful bike store clerk and acquired a model new one-wheeler for precisely $100.

So I went about my duties, spending the times studying and the nights falling on my ass – so much. I lived proper above the Grand Central Market and used the roof of the constructing’s car parking zone as my college of exhausting falls. Periodically, I’d see a shadowed face watching me from a window located simply above the roofline, offering me further motivation to beat this unusual ability earlier than the brand new 12 months.

With every day, the readings supplied differing philosophies — “And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair,” and “To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world…” — propelling me into every night time, the place I began to really feel my cycle-confidence rising. Then it clicked. I used to be gliding round like a professional. And as I rode across the roof like a canine unleashed, I observed my voyeur good friend watching once more – however this time I wasn’t falling. So, as a proud new unicycle knowledgeable, it felt pure to experience over and bathe them in my new expertise … however as I received nearer, I noticed who it was. Holy. Shit. Nicolas Cage. Talent-bathing all of the sudden morphed into worry, and I may solely suppose to do one factor. Wave tentatively. He then shut the blinds aggressively.

Oscars Governors BallOscars Governors Ball

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Fast ahead to the Governors Ball 1996 the place I’m crashing into the exact same Nicolas Cage – who had simply gained his Best Actor Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas…Bam! I lose my stability and ice goes flying like a short hailstorm. One cussed dice grazes him on the cheek, which propels him to stumble upon Jim Carrey, inflicting his newly acquired gold statue to just about pop from his grip and hit the deck. They glared at me as I stumbled by means of some model of “Sorry…and….hi Mr. Cage…I’m the guy on the roof with the uni……uh…you know…uhhhh…congrats?” They paused for a veeery awkward beat with appears of shared bewilderment, and rapidly circled and walked away. Miraculously I didn’t get fired however mentally famous the epic nature of checking off so many targets with one unified disaster.

It’s exhausting to prime that encounter for an Oscars reminiscence however I do keep in mind two further moments from the night: 1. Saying howdy to fellow Clevelander Lew Wasserman (truly I simply walked by him and mentioned howdy to myself) and “permanently borrowing” a fork and a knife from the dinnerware as a result of I didn’t have any at my condominium. Yes, as embarrassing as it’s, I took a tableware setting from the Oscars.

Since then, I’ve checked off many further objects from that preliminary record. Family? Check. Moon? Not but. But solely lately did I work out why the unicycle together with the opposing forces of these two books had been calling me so loudly that day. One wheel, with zero assist and no brakes, all the time coming full circle as soon as stability is achieved – even for only a second. A recognizable metaphor for a lot of who transfer to Los Angeles and embark on the movie work trip. Exactly one 12 months after this incident, I used to be employed for my first Hollywood movie job. With the assistance of a good friend who labored for…Nicolas Cage.

And 14 years after the 1996 ceremony, I attended the Oscars as a nominee together with David (Hoberman) for our movie The Fighter – and the very first transfer I made when lastly scouting out my assigned Governors Ball seat? I symbolically laid down a fork and knife that I had introduced from our residence dinnerware set. Full circle.

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