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Linda Blair Remembers The Exorcist + Elizabeth Reaser: Academy’s Governors Awards

Linda Blair The Exorcist tribute to make-up artist Dick Smith
Linda Blair: Remembering The Exorcist while paying tribute to make-up artist and Honorary Oscar recipient Dick Smith.

Linda Blair honors The Exorcist make-up artist Dick Smith: Academy’s Governors Awards

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

The Exorcist actress Linda Blair is pictured above while arriving at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 2011 Governors Awards, held in the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood, on Saturday, Nov. 12.

James Earl Jones (Field of Dreams, The Hunt for Red October) was a long-distance Honorary Oscar honoree, as he’s co-starring with Vanessa Redgrave in Driving Miss Daisy on the London stage. Oprah Winfrey, a 1985 Best Supporting Actress nominee for Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple, attended the ceremony where she was handed the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Also present was veteran make-up artist Dick Smith (Starman, The Cardinal), who will be turning 90 on June 26, ’12. His segment was introduced by Linda Blair herself, who, back in early 1974, was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award partly thanks to Smith’s work, which transformed her from a cherub-faced, all-American young thing into a gargoyle-faced, all-demonic ancient one. (True, Mercedes McCambridge’s voice also did wonders for Blair’s performance in William Friedkin’s horror thriller, but that’s another story.)

Linda Blair movies

Although a phenomenal worldwide hit, The Exorcist didn’t turn Linda Blair into a major box office draw. In fact, Blair, then in her mid-teens, would find more challenging roles on television. (See further below.)

Not helping matters, a sequel to The Exorcist, John Boorman’s Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), was a dismal critical and commercial bomb despite its prestige director and cast – multiple Oscar nominee Richard Burton (My Cousin Rachel, 1952; Becket, 1964; etc.), Best Actress Oscar winner Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975).

Worse yet, in 1977 Florida police arrested Blair – then 18 – and about 30 other people (including two children of Democratic Florida senator Dan Scarborough) in an attempt to break an alleged drug ring. Blair was charged with drug possession and conspiracy to either buy or sell drugs. Eventually pleading guilty to the charge of conspiracy to possess cocaine, she received three years’ probation and a $5,000 fine.

According to (unverified) online sources, she would later say that following the scandal, her Hollywood career “went down faster than the Titanic.” Whether or not the quote is factual, that’s pretty much what happened.

Among Linda Blair’s post-The Exorcist screen credits, mostly low-budget “genre” a.k.a. “exploitation” movies, are the following:

  • Airport 1975 (1974).
    Director: Jack Smight.
    Cast: Charlton Heston. Karen Black. George Kennedy. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Susan Clark. Helen Reddy. Linda Blair. Dana Andrews. Roy Thinnes. Sid Caesar. Myrna Loy. Ed Nelson. Nancy Olson. Larry Storch. Martha Scott. Jerry Stiller. Norman Fell. Conrad Janis. Beverly Garland. Linda Harrison (as Augusta Summerland). Guy Stockwell. Erik Estrada. Kip Niven.
  • Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977).
    Director: John Boorman.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Richard Burton. Louise Fletcher. Max von Sydow. Kitty Winn. Paul Henreid. James Earl Jones. Ned Beatty.
  • Roller Boogie (1979).
    Director: Mark L. Lester.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Jim Bray. Beverly Garland. Roger Perry. James Van Patten. Mark Goddard.
  • Hell Night (1981).
    Director: Tom DeSimone.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Vincent Van Patten. Peter Barton. Kevin Brophy. Suki Goodwin.
  • Chained Heat (1983).
    Director: Paul Nicholas.
    Cast: Linda Blair. John Vernon. Sybil Danning. Tamara Dobson. Stella Stevens. Henry Silva.
  • Red Heat (1985).
    Director: Robert Collector.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Sylvia Kristel. Sue Kiel. William Ostrander. Elisabeth Volkmann. Albert Fortell. Herb Andress.
  • Moving Target / Bersaglio sull’autostrada (1988).
    Director: Marius Mattei.
    Cast: Ernest Borgnine. Linda Blair. Stuart Whitman. Gabriella Giorgelli.

Linda Blair on television: Controversial TV movies

On television, Linda Blair’s most important roles were those in three controversial TV movies of the 1970s:

  • Born Innocent (1974), which featured a brutal rape scene.
    Director: Donald Wrye.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Joanna Miles. Allyn Ann McLerie. Mary Murphy. Tina Andrews. Mitch Vogel. Janit Baldwin. Richard Jaeckel. Kim Hunter.
  • Sweet Hostage (1975), about a teenage farmgirl who has an affair with her older, mentally ill kidnapper.
    Director: Lee Philips.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Martin Sheen. Jeanne Cooper. Lee de Broux. Bert Remsen.
  • Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975), in which she played the title character.
    Director: Richard Donner.
    Cast: Linda Blair. Larry Hagman. Verna Bloom. Michael Lerner. Mark Hamill. Eric Olson. M. Emmet Walsh.

Linda Blair photo: Matt Petit / © A.M.P.A.S.

Elizabeth Reaser Twilight actress Oscar hopeful?
Elizabeth Reaser: ‘Twilight’ actress Oscar hopeful (?) at Academy’s Governors Awards.

Elizabeth Reaser: ‘Twilight’ actress at Academy’s Governors Awards

Elizabeth Reaser of Twilight fame – Breaking Dawn – Part 1 opens Friday, Nov. 18, in North America – is pictured above while arriving at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 2011 Governors Awards, which took place in the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles, on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Until recently best known as an indie movie actress, Elizabeth Reaser (born on June 15, 1975, in Bloomfield, Michigan) has of late supported Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner in the five Twilight Saga worldwide blockbusters (and blockbusters-to-be) based on Stephenie Meyer’s (four) bestsellers: Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight (2008), Chris Weitz’s New Moon (2009), David Slade’s Eclipse (2010), and Bill Condon’s aforementioned Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011) and Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (to be released in Nov. 2012).

Vampire matriarch Esme Cullen

In the Twilight movies, Reaser plays Esme Cullen, the vampire matriarch “married” to Peter Facinelli’s Dr. Carlisle Cullen. Their adopted “children” are Edward (Robert Pattinson), Emmett (Kellan Lutz), and Alice (Ashley Greene), plus Rosalie Hale (Nikki Reed) and (relatively) recent addition Jasper Hale (Jackson Rathbone).

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

In case you’re wondering, Rosalie and Jasper must have different surnames so they can shack up with their adoptive siblings without being accused of taking part in incestuous relationships. Not that that has stopped Anna Kendrick’s small-town high-schooler Jessica from gossiping about them: “But they live together! It’s weird!”

Oscar hopeful?

By the way, unlike fellow Governors Awards attendees Evan Rachel Wood, Tate Taylor, Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, Michel Hazanavicius, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and others, Elizabeth Reaser isn’t really an Oscar hopeful this year.

Her presence at the Governors Awards is in all likelihood related to Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate’s p.r. media blitz surrounding the release of Breaking Dawn 1.

Elizabeth Reaser photo: Matt Petit | © A.M.P.A.S.

Elizabeth Reaser movies wide range
Elizabeth Reaser movies: Wide range from ‘Twilight’ franchise to indie fare.

Non-‘Twilight’ Elizabeth Reaser movies

Elizabeth Reaser has been featured in more than 20 films since 2001. Besides the Twilight installments, her movie credits include Thomas Bezucha’s The Family Stone, with Diane Keaton and Sarah Jessica Parker; Maria Maggenti’s Puccini for Beginners, with Ken Barnett and Julianne Nicholson; and Peter Callahan’s Against the Current, with Joseph Fiennes and Justin Kirk.

She received a Best Actress Spirit Award nomination for Sweet Land. She lost to Shareeka Epps for Half Nelson.

As for her television work, Elizabeth Reaser is probably best known for her recurring role as Rebecca Pope in the series Grey’s Anatomy, which earned her an Emmy nomination (2007) in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series category and a SAG Award nomination (2008) as a member of the series’ cast.

Sean Young Blade Runner actress Oscar
Sean Young: ‘Blade Runner’ actress and giant Oscar statue on Governors Awards Red Carpet.

‘Blade Runner’ actress Sean Young at the Academy’s Governors Awards

Veteran Blade Runner actress Sean Young is seen on the 2011 Governors Awards’ Red Carpet outside the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland. Like Elizabeth Reaser, Sean Young is not a 2012 Oscar hopeful; she has no movie coming out this year.

James Earl Jones (The Great White Hope, Cry the Beloved Country, the voice of Star Wars’ Darth Vader) was a long-distance Honorary Oscar honoree, as he’s co-starring with Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave (Julia, 1977) in Driving Miss Daisy on the London stage.

But in attendance was Jones’ fellow 2011 Honorary Oscar recipient, make-up artist Dick Smith (Ghost Story, The Fan, The Hunger).

Television talk show celebrity Oprah Winfrey, a 1985 Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for Steven Spielberg’s box office hit The Color Purple, was handed the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Since 1980, Sean Young has been featured in about 50 films, notably Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), with Harrison Ford; David Lynch’s Dune (1984), with Kyle MacLachlan; Oliver Stone’s Wall Street (1987), with Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas; and Roger Donaldson’s Now Way Out (1987), with Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman.

Sean Young photo: Matt Petit | © A.M.P.A.S.

Tom Hanks' wife and actress Rita Wilson Oprah Winfrey Arnold Schwarzenegger estranged wife Maria Shriver
Tom Hanks’ wife and actress Rita Wilson, Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient and talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, journalist/author and estranged Arnold Schwarzenegger wife Maria Shriver.

Rita Wilson, Maria Shriver & Oprah Winfrey: Governors Awards

Actress Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks’ wife), Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Oprah Winfrey, and journalist/author Maria Shriver – in the news a while back following her sensational split from actor and California’s former Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – are seen above at the Academy’s 2011 Governors Awards.

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Rita Wilson movies

The Los Angeles-born Rita Wilson (Oct. 26, 1956) has been featured in about 20 films. Notable titles include Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle (1993), starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan; Gus Van Sant’s Psycho (1998), starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, and Viggo Mortensen; and Nancy Meyers’ It’s Complicated (2009), starring Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin.

Rita Wilson, Oprah Winfrey, Maria Shriver photo: Richard Harbaugh | © A.M.P.A.S.

Oprah Winfrey Oscar Humanitarian
Oprah Winfrey holds Oscar statuette: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award winner reminds crowd, ‘Your life matters.’

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award winner Oprah Winfrey Oscar quotes

Many were surprised and/or upset that the 2011 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was going to be handed to a television personality at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors Awards on Nov. 12. For although Oprah Winfrey did receive a Best Supporting Academy Award nomination for Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple back in early 1986, the TV talk show host and billionaire entrepreneur’s participation in the world of filmmaking has been at best marginal.

Besides The Color Purple, among Winfrey’s rare forays into movies in the last quarter of a century are:

  • A supporting role in Jerrold Freedman’s film version of Richard Wright’s novel Native Son (1986), starring Victor Love.
  • A lead role in and a producing credit on Jonathan Demme’s poorly received Beloved (1998).
  • Doing voice work for Bee Movie (2007) and The Princess and the Frog (2009).
  • An executive producer credit on Lee Daniels’ Best Picture Oscar nominee Precious (2009).

Academy President Tom Sherak came to Oprah Winfrey’s defense, asserting that she is “one of the most philanthropic performers in the world,” while adding that “she’s a member of the Academy” who has been nominated for an Academy Award – “and she has produced movies.”

Precious few women winners

Incidentally, Oprah Winfrey is only the sixth woman to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, first handed out at the 1957 Oscar ceremony – the year after actor (Greed, The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg) and former Academy President Hersholt’s death.

Winfrey’s predecessors – four of them actresses – were:

Oprah Winfrey wipes away tear

At the Governors Awards ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles, Oprah Winfrey reportedly wiped away a tear while receiving praise from a speaker onstage. She later took to the podium with a message straight out of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life: “Your life matters. You matter. What you do matters.”

Not that anyone could possibly disagree. For better or for worse, what Winfrey said is both true and self-evident.

Helping ‘The Help’

While onstage, Winfrey also plugged potential Best Picture Academy Award contender The Help through one of those inspirational speeches that pepper – or plague, depending on your take – award shows.

“I never imagined receiving an Oscar, especially for doing what is part of my calling, part of my being,” the 57-year-old told the crowd. “If you are not a former colored girl born in Mississippi in 1954, it is impossible for you to know what this journey has meant.”

Winfrey added that both her mother and grandmother had been maids just like the black women in the Tate Taylor sleeper hit, thus reminding everyone that among the countless children and grandchildren of black Southern maids a single one had gone on to become a billionaire TV celeb.

Brett Ratner brouhaha, humanitarian Hugh Grant

Tom Sherak’s only – however indirect – mention of the Brett Ratner-Eddie Murphy Oscar hosting/producing debacle was wryly asking the crowd, “How was your week?”

Sherak also paid a brief tribute to Oscar producers Laura Ziskin and Gilbert Cates, both of whom have died in the last few months.

And not that anyone has asked us, but…

How about a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for Maurice and About a Boy star Hugh Grant, for his efforts in trying to save the world from Rupert Murdoch and his minions/whores in the British media, the British police, the British government, and elsewhere?

Oprah Winfrey quote about the journey from 1954 Mississippi to 2011 Hollywood & Highland via

Image of Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient Oprah Winfrey holding Oscar statuette: Todd Wawrychuk / © A.M.P.A.S.

Dick Smith The Exorcist make-up artist Honorary Oscar
Dick Smith: ‘The Exorcist’ make-up artist was Honorary Oscar recipient.

Make-up artist Dick Smith: Honorary Oscar recipient at the Governors Awards

Oprah Winfrey was not the only Academy honoree on Nov. 12. Linda Blair introduced the presentation of the Honorary Oscar to veteran make-up artist Dick Smith, 89. Back in 1973, Smith transformed the then 13-year-old Blair into an iconic movie “monster” in William Friedkin’s blockbuster The Exorcist.

“For me, it was not as much fun as I think it was for Dick,” she recalled. “It was not a little girl’s dream.” Yet for her performance as a teenager possessed by a (literally) head-turning demon, Blair – assisted by the initially uncredited voice of Mercedes McCambridge – was shortlisted for that year’s Best Supporting Actress Academy Award.

Whether or not because it was revealed that her demon voice had actually been the work of the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winner of 1949 (for Robert Rossen’s All the King’s Men), she lost the 1973 Oscar to the even younger Tatum O’Neal in Peter Bogdanovich’s Paper Moon.

Dick Smith movies

Among Dick Smith’s other movie credits are Otto Preminger’s The Cardinal (1963); Arthur Penn’s Little Big Man (1970), featuring Dustin Hoffman as a centenarian; Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974); Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976), Ken Russell’s Altered States (1980); and Tony Scott’s The Hunger (1983) – during the course of which David Bowie goes from hip vampire to wrinkled prune.

Here are a few more titles: The World of Henry Orient, House of Dark Shadows, The Sunshine Boys, The Deer Hunter, Ghost Story, Starman, Death Becomes Her, and House on Haunted Hill.

Oscar win

In early 1985, Dick Smith and Paul LeBlanc took home the Best Make-Up Oscar – introduced three years earlier – for their work on Milos Forman’s Amadeus, which starred F. Murray Abraham as Antonio Salieri and Tom Hulce as Mozart.

Smith would receive another nomination – shared with Ken Diaz and Greg Nelson – for Gary David Goldberg’s Dad (1989), starring Jack Lemmon as an elderly man, Ted Danson, and Ethan Hawke.

Honorary Award recipient Dick Smith photo: Matt Petit / © A.M.P.A.S.

Tom McCarthy screenwriter director The Station Agent
Tom McCarthy: ‘The Station Agent’ and ‘The Visitor’ screenwriter-director at the Governors Awards.

Actor and screenwriter Tom McCarthy on the Red Carpet

Pictured above is screenwriter Tom McCarthy (a.k.a. Thomas McCarthy) on the red carpet at the 2011 Governors Awards. The evening’s honorees were actor James Earl Jones, who had to accept his Honorary Oscar from London, make-up artist Dick Smith, and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient and billionaire TV celebrity Oprah Winfrey.

Tom McCarthy has four screenplay/story credits: Up (which earned him an Oscar nomination, along with co-writers Bob Peterson and Pete Docter), The Station Agent, The Visitor, and Win Win. McCarthy also directed the last three titles.

As an actor, his movie credits include Meet the Parents, Syriana, Michael Clayton, Baby Mama, The Lovely Bones, and Little Fockers.

Whether as an actor, director, or screenwriter, Tom McCarthy has never worked on a feature project with James Earl Jones, Dick Smith, or Oprah Winfrey. But Win Win, featuring Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, and Bobby Cannavale, is a potential contender this awards season.

Tom McCarthy photo: Matt Petit | © A.M.P.A.S.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) website.

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