24 March, 2002, Kodak Theatre, Hollywood, CA, USA
Thank you very much ... that makes up for the strip search.
Let me tell you why I’m here exactlyAbout four weeks ago I was sitting home in my apartment in New York, and the phone rang, and a voice on the other end said, ‘this is the Motion Picture Academy Arts and Sciences’, and I panicked immediately, because I thought that they wanted their Oscars back. ‘Cause I’ve won a few Oscars over the years, and I thought that, you know, they were calling to get them back, and panicked because, you know, the pawn shop has been out of business for ages, and I have no way of retrieving anything, and they said, ‘no this was not it’ and I, I, couldn’t figure it out because my movie ‘The Curse of the Jade Scorpion’ was not nominated for anything this year, nothing, no category. And then it suddenly hit me, maybe they’re calling to apologise?
And I remembered during the course of the year, I had been walking on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, and a homeless man came up to me, and asked me if I could buy him lunch. And I didn’t buy him lunch, but I gave him fifty cents, and I thought maybe certain members of the Academy had witnessed this, and they were going to give me a Gene Herschell Humanitarian Award [laughter] because that’s what goes through your mind. I thought maybe that or a Thalberg or something, because you know you start calculating, I’m sixty six years old, a third of my life is over now ...[laughter] and you know, you start to think, maybe they want to honour me?
They said no, they said, here’s what the story is, in view of the terrible events that have occurred in New York over the last year, the Academy wanted to show support and make a nice gesture and put together a little film, paying tribute to movies that had been shot in New York over the years. And they wanted somebody to introduce it, and I said, ‘god you can do much better than me, you know, why not get Martin Scorsese or Mike Nichols or Spike Lee or Sidney Lumet,’ I kept naming names, you know, and said ‘look I’ve given you fifteen names of guys who are more talented than I am, and smarter and classier. They said, ‘yes, but they were not available’ so, for New York City, you knowI’ll do anything, I got my tux, I came out here, it’s a great great movie town. Ever since I was a little kid,,movies that I grew up on in New York, movies that were shot there, it’s been a great romantic and exciting backdrop for movies, New York, and it’s a great place to come and work and make your movies because it’s still a thrilling and very very exciting city.
In a couple of weeks I’m gonna be starting another movie, on the streets of New York, I’m going to be filming a romantic movie about a foot fetishist [laughter] interesting movie the guy is a foot fetishist and he falls in love with a beautiful Harvard professor. She’s absolutely beautiful and she’s absolutely brilliant, and, um, she writes this paper on existential philosophy, and he become sexually aroused by her footnotes .. [laughter] You know, I begin this in a few weeks in Manhattan, so I plead with you to please come, make the films there, it is, it remains a great great city. The film that you are about to see now, the clips, were loving put together by a terrific New York filmmaker, Nora Ephron, and you can roll this anytime you want now.