03.08.18 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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Many people find the idea of award shows ridiculous. They look at it as a self-serving pat-on-the-back and congratulations generally bestowed in industries viewed as overpaid and as jobs that are easy to do.

I love them though, especially the Oscars. The first time I ever sat down to watch the Oscars, officially called “The Academy Awards,” was when I was 10 years old. It was 1990 and I was watching Saturday morning cartoons when a commercial advertising the Oscar telecast came on.

It was your typical “many stars are scheduled to appear” award show commercial with a voiceover listing big Hollywood names while they showed clips of some of the nominated films. In the commercial I caught a split-second glimpse of the Batmobile and thought, “I don’t know what this show is but it’s going to have something to do with Batman so I must watch it.” Batman and I went way back and no nerd had more joy in 1989 than I did watching Tim Burton’s masterpiece film about the caped crusader.

The commercial concluded “hosted by Billy Crystal, this Monday only on ABC.” Back then the Oscars were on a Monday night and were later moved to Sunday, presumably so the E! Network could start the red carpet coverage as soon as the sun came up.

That Monday I came home from school and was ready for whatever this Oscar thing was and ready for some Batman. I told my parents that I wanted to watch it and knew they would be down to watching it too because just as I love all things Batman, my parents love all things Billy Crystal. That man can do no wrong in their eyes.

As the show started I had that weird hyperactive energy that only kids get running through my body. The voiceover from the commercial was back and he was naming the stars as they walked down the red carpet, the camera cutting from one glamorous person to the next.

Then it cut to the face of The Joker himself, Mr. Jack Nicholson. There he was, Batman’s greatest villain, at the Oscars. Certainly if he was there Batman would be along any moment now. Then I heard the voiceover guy again.

“Here is the star of the year’s biggest hit Batman, nominated tonight for Best Art Direction.”

What the hell is art direction? They were talking about the year’s best films so Batman obviously would be nominated in everything because it was the greatest movie ever made. At that point my evening was shot.

Then the show started and out came Billy Crystal. It was his first year hosting and he started to sing parody songs for each of the Best Picture nominees. From that moment I was hooked. I watched as star after star took to the stage to hand out these golden statues (including one to Batman for Best Art Direction thank you very much). The evening finished as The Joker took the stage with Warren Beatty, a man I would come to refer to in my youth as Dick Tracy, and presented Best Picture to Driving Miss Daisy. I hadn’t seen it, hell I hadn’t seen most of these movies, but that didn’t matter. I loved the excitement and I loved the passion. It was one of the best things I had ever seen.

From that year on the Oscars opened the door to all other award shows. I watched the Grammys and the Tonys and the Emmys, both daytime and primetime.

When I started with Watermark and found out we had our own awards I was instantly hooked on that as well. I helped Watermark switch up the voting process to a two-part system—a write-in portion and then a pick from the top three, something I learned from the Academy.

Now, for the last several years Watermark has let me be the lead on getting the WAVE Awards out to the readers and it is honestly one of my favorite things to do each year. It is also something I take a lot of pride and integrity in.

In the pages of this issue are the top three in more than 45 categories as picked by Watermark readers. For better or worse, the votes of the people stand. To those whose names appear in this issue, congratulations. To those who do not, know that there is always next year and there is no shame in self-promotion. Lord knows I do it.

Now without further ado, may I have the envelope please…

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