EW's report from the surreal DVD Premiere Awards -- The Weinstein brothers rubbed shoulders with the Olsen twins, the Fonz, and Coolio at the ceremony honoring both big-ticket and straight-to-video projects

By Brian M. Raftery
February 07, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen: Debbie van Story/Image Direct

As far as awards shows go, the first few rows at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theatre seemed to make perfect sense. There were the Weinstein brothers, front and center, taking the best seats in the house; Quentin Tarantino, powwowing with various friends and hangers-on; and ”Lord of the Rings” exec producer Mark Ordesky, whose table was slowly piling up trophies.

But then, just a few seats away, there was…Coolio. And Maria Conchita Alonso. And the Fonz. They were all presenters at this year’s DVD Premiere Awards, an out-there ceremony presented by Video Business magazine that mixes the A-list filmmakers of today with the A-list stars of, say, 1989. It’s just the kind of show where you can hear such introductions as ”You may remember her as Sgt. Dee Dee McCall on ‘Hunter’…” spoken without even a hint of Troy McClure-like spoofiness. ”Is this not the ‘Twilight Zone’ of award shows?” asked Robbie Robertson, a winner for audio commentary (on ”The Last Waltz”). ”I keep expecting David Lynch to jump out with a camera.”

Alas, Lynch was not among this year’s nominees, which included both big-ticket special editions like ”The Fellowship of the Ring” and straight-to-video debuts such as ”Left Behind II: Tribulation Force.” Hosted by Ben Stein, who noted that he’d ”hardly watched any of the nominees,” it’s an event more likely to honor dog movies than Dogma movies, and indeed, two heated entries — ”Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch” and ”K-9: P.I.” — were in the running. Among the more high-profile prizes were a Best Actor award for Gary Sinise (”A Gentleman’s Game”) and, in a move that induced surprisingly little smirking, Best Original Song for Jennifer Love Hewitt (”The Hunchback of Notre Dame II”).

Still, the awards had plenty of big-night drama, both on and off the red carpet: There were fiery filmmakers (”Double Whammy” director Tom DiCillo, upset that his film didn’t get a theatrical run) and onstage gaffes (to a crowd that included both Coolio and Pras, Henry Winkler gave a shout-out to one rapper who wasn’t in the house: ”Busta Rhymes, if you’re in the room, you were unbelievable in ‘Narc.’ Really”).

Meanwhile, proving that no Hollywood shindig is complete without some sort of Miramax controversy, the studio (which had spent, by some estimates, zero dollars on aggressive preawards trade ads) had two films in the running for Best Menu Design. When asked whether the company had a favorite, a stunned Bob Weinstein could only reply, ”What are the two movies nominated?” Answer: ”Amélie” and ”Pulp Fiction Collector’s Edition.” ”Uh, either way we’re a winner.”

The brothers were being honored for their contribution to the video industry, as were equally fearsome siblings Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, whose fifth film about adolescent fun in distant lands, ”When in Rome,” was also up for Best Live Action DVD Premiere Movie. Not that the girls had preshow jitters: ”We’ve been studying for finals,” one of them said. ”That’s what we’ve been thinking about lately.” As for their picks? ”Our dog on ‘Full House’ was in ‘Air Bud.’ So we’re rooting for ‘Air Bud.”’

Also rooting for the baseball-playing pooch was Tarantino, the former video-store clerk who took home a career achievement award. ”There’s a whole full circle going on here [with] my video lineage. The snake is swallowing the tail right now.” And said snake was hoping to meet the Olsen twins. ”We actually have mutual friends. I’ll bring it up when we meet.”

Sadly, the evening didn’t lend itself to much postshow mingling. After a 10-minute stage delay, the event closed with a performance by rock & soul legend Solomon Burke. By then, most guests were on their way home, their goodie bags overstuffed with complimentary discs — a fitting end to a night loaded with so many unexpected bonus features.