- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Did Chris Rock bomb at the Oscars? From where we sat, it looked as though he did exactly what he was asked to do — inject some edge into a stale ceremony — and the academy decided, too late, that it didn’t want edge after all.

Bring the populist pain — In his prerecorded bit at a Magic Johnson cineplex, Mr. Rock exposed a truth that no amount of minority-friendly gestures could obscure: The tastes of average moviegoers are increasingly far removed from the Indie-wood fare favored by elite academy voters.

Turkey targeting — Mr. Rock’s zinger of an introduction of Halle Berry — “star of the eagerly awaited ‘Catwoman 2’ ” — was an acutely embarrassing reminder that a past Oscar winner could wind up in such utter tripe as “Catwoman.”

Tears for tiers — Everyone knows Hollywood’s star system is multitiered. Mr. Rock is indeed no Denzel Washington. Too bad the comedian didn’t have the guts to poke fun at some of the second-tier actors in the audience, such as Hilary Swank, star of “The Core.”

Anti-tact tack — When he introduced Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz and their plunging necklines as “four presenters,” Mr. Rock stooped perhaps too low into tastelessness. Thus did he play into indecency cop Matt Drudge’s hands.

The prig-Penn effect — Mr. Rock’s mockery of Jude Law compelled Sean Penn to spring to the ubiquitous Briton’s defense. Mr. Penn’s “one of our finest actors” moment made him look like even more of a sanctimonious prig than he already is. That’s hard work, and for Mr. Rock, no good deed will go unpunished.

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