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|| News Item: Posted 2003-04-01

Leading Off: March Madness
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Nancy Kawamoto

Photo by Nancy Kawamoto

Robert Hanashiro, left, and Mark J. Terrill at the Academy Awards.
There's no business, like show business like no business I know...

I love this time of year ... it is truly my "March Madness".

March Madness to me is not just the NCAA Tournament ... but also Spring Training and ... the Academy Awards mixed in for good measure.

It's funny, out of all of the great sports and news events that I have covered, the annual evening where the movie industry presents itself with awards ... awash in the spotlight and faux drama that only Hollywood can conceive and deliver ... Oscar night is the event people ask me about the most.

While in the comfort of your living room, the Oscar show may seem witty, lively, dramatic and sometimes emotional, it is really none of the above when you're actually there sitting (well, actually standing in my case) in the back of the "Yellow Film Box" Theater.

While the show has always taken criticism for its length (never ending before 11:30 pm Eastern Time) the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doggedly maintains its schedule, with a tweak here and there to give the appearance of doing something. They are like much Major League Baseball (with World Series games ending near midnight)... the show goes on and on and on ... 4-hour-show be damned (and people that like to be tucked in by 11).

So being the Sports Shooter that I am, I am proposing the Oscar show take a couple of pages out of the NCAA rule book to speed things up and maybe ... just maybe ... make it a little less b-o-r-i-n-g.

First off, let's dump the notion that a stand-up comic has to be The Host ... let's bring in Bill Walton, tie-dyed T-shirt and no script. Bill "Deadhead" Walton UNPLUGGED ... think of it! (Hey ... I thought Dave Letterman was fine. I guess I was the only one that "got it".)

Second, instead of the 20-second timer (what winner has EVER wrapped up their acceptance speech in 20 seconds?) and bring in three referees with whistles. You go over 20 seconds.... TWEEEET! You're outta there!

Third, celebrity cheerleaders to perform during commercial breaks ... how about the new "Charlie's Angels"?

And fourth, two rows of photographers at the base of the stage! Instead of 10 of us in the projection booth at the very back of the theater, we'd be right up close to the action, using 70 - 200 zooms instead of 600mm lenses with 1.4 extenders!

Since I'm comparing the Oscars with the NCAA Tournament, I'd like to hand out some awards, "The Berties," gleaned from observations from the West Regional at the Anaheim Pond.

Photo by Todd Warshaw

Photo by Todd Warshaw

Robert Hanashiro, left, Kevork Djansezian of the AP and Alex Brandon of the Times-Picayune at the NCAA Western Regionals at the Pond in Anaheim.
Best Performance by a Head Coach: Lute Olson.
(Olson wins the first-ever "Bertie" for blowing off a CBS sideline "reporter" and camera-pointer when they tried to hijack him while he was on his way to the post-game interview room.)

Worst Lighting Performance: The Anaheim Pond.
(The available light exposure was 1/ 400 @ f/2.8 at ASA3200. "I haven't seen light this bad since the last high school game I shot," said the AP's Mark J. Terrill in reviewing The Pond's performance.)

Worst Mascot: The Notre Dame "Leprechaun".
(I haven't seen anything so dopey, silly and childish since ... well, the last Notre Dame game I covered. I now take back all of the bad things I have said about Stanford's stupid "Tree" mascot.)

* * *

Sports Shooter v.53 continues our trend to bring photographers a mix of interesting and provocative stories.

We lead off with an article by Gregory Chittenden about switching from newspaper photographer to baseball umpire. Sports Shooter Newsletter regular contributor Trent Nelson gives us a behind the scenes look at the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping and the photo coverage of her dramatic return to her family.

The Sydney Morning Herald's Tim Clayton bemoans the state of sports contests. (Hey Tim! I'll expect Part 2 of this piece next month after you've seen what another "Three Initial Contest" has done!) And we get the low down from Mamiya on how far the wireless remote technology can be taken.

So sit back, adjust the contrast on that monitor, adjust the bass on that Mike Mann & the NightRiders "Cowboy Soul" CD ... and enjoy Sports Shooter v.53.

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