Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, March 06, 2006

AP writer's criticism of Jon Stewart falls flat

So the AP's Frazier Moore wasn't too impressed with Jon Stewart's hosting gig last night. In a review which a number of media outlets inside and outside the U.S. have already picked up (Stewart disappoints as Oscars host), the TV writer attacked the Daily Show host for being bland and un-funny, declaring that Stewart's "usually impeccable blend of puckishness and self-effacement fell flat in the service of Oscar."

When I first saw the review on the Seattle P-I's website, I was unhappy that no effort had been made to clearly denote that the criticism was an editorial, not part of an objective article. Since then, at least the P-I has clarified that it is an editorial by putting "review" in the headline. Good for them.

Frazier Moore may not have liked Jon Stewart's performance - but I sure did, and so did many other critics. On ABC's post-Oscar show, two of the nation's most well known film critics - Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper - said Stewart was "fabulous" and "great" as the host of the Oscars.

Leslie Gray Streeter, writing for the Palm Beach Post, said Stewart's monologue was the "best opening montage ever". Writing for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, columnist D Parvaz wrote:
The question of the night was this: Can Jon Stewart save the Oscars? The answer, thankfully, was hell yes -- he can, and did.

Stewart managed to do what a long list of hosts, including big talents like Chris Rock and Steve Martin failed to do, which is to remain true to their comedy while dealing with the format of the show


Of all of Stewart's triumphs last night, the best was the fact that he didn't make a single "I wish I could quit you," joke. Instead, he pointed out that "Capote" showed Americans that "not all gay people are virile cowboys. Some are actually effete New York intellectuals." God, here's hoping they offer him the gig again next year.
William Arnold, also authoring a review for the Seattle P-I, wrote that Stewart did pretty well for a rookie host:
In his debut outing as Oscar host, comedian Jon Stewart did, I think, surprisingly well. He was stiff in the opening and throughout the first half seemed slightly intimidated by the surroundings. But he loosened up in the second half and commanded the rest of the ceremony like Billy Crystal at his best
Moira MacDonald, over at the Seattle Times, didn't have too much to say about Stewart's performance, but she did have praise:
Jon Stewart, hosting for the first time, seemed at ease and landed a few effective one-liners. "Good Night, and Good Luck," he said, wasn't just the title of an Oscar-nominated film but was "the way George Clooney ends all his dates." After a montage of issue movies, he intoned in basso tones, "And none of these issues were ever a problem again." He mostly avoided political humor, though he did note that Björk, she of the famous swan dress, wasn't present this year because "she was trying on her Oscar dress, and Dick Cheney shot her."
Finally, here's Gene Seymour, writing for the Chicago Tribune, who declared that Stewart had succeeded as a host:
Let's see now. What was it they were worried about? That Jon Stewart would be too esoteric? Too political? Too much the cable cult figure to make it as an Oscar host?


Stewart did exactly what a contemporary Academy Awards host is supposed to do. He's supposed to keep the zingers coming fast enough to work the room while nudging and winking at those of us watching at home.
There. Take that, Frazier Moore. Jon Stewart was no disappointment. He was a breath of fresh air into the Oscars. I am delighted that producer Gil Gates asked him to host this year, and I hope he's offered the job again next year.

Jon Stewart may not have fallen flat in his Oscar performance - but Moore's criticism sure did. And Moore's shoddy review may have been picked up by a lot of media outlets, but it's definitely not the critical consensus.

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