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Old 02-28-04, 03:12 PM   #1
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Rob Schneider Denied Academy Membership "All I want is Free DVDs"

From WSJ.com

Academic Question:
Can Deuce Bigalow
Vote on the Oscars?

Comic Actor Rob Schneider
Bids for Membership
By BRUCE ORWALL
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL


Rob Schneider has never exactly been Oscar material.

In a film called "The Animal," the comic actor seduces a goat to the accompaniment of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." As the star of "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," his bumbling "man-whore" accidentally disconnects the prosthetic leg of a woman whose foot he is kissing. In the current hit "50 First Dates," Mr. Schneider puffs on a joint and then sticks it down the back of his pants for safekeeping.

But if Mr. Schneider is unlikely to win an Academy Award, he believes he is at least qualified to vote on the awards. So last year, the former "Saturday Night Live" regular sought to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the 6,400-member organization behind the Oscars that will be handed out in Hollywood on Sunday night.


Mr. Schneider's candidacy -- and the unusual correspondence that ensued between him and the academy -- provides a glimpse into the murky admissions process. It's "kind of a mysterious shrouded place," he says. Indeed, Ed Begley Jr., who serves on the actors' branch admissions committee, says Mr. Schneider is a "wonderful actor and wonderful comedian," but, he adds, "What happens in those meetings is entirely classified and behind closed doors."

One thing that is clear: Getting into the academy is not as easy as it used to be. Having doubled in size over the past 30 years, the academy has been trying to cut back.

Bruce Davis, the academy's executive director, says that when he first came to the organization in the early 1980s, he hardly knew any of the actors making admittance decisions. And that raised the question: "Who are you going to keep out if you yourself have had a sketchy career?"

So standards were raised, with top professionals in each of the academy's 14 branches enlisted to meet twice a year to sift through proposed candidates. For the actors, the chairman is Kathy Bates. Tom Hanks is the co-chairman. Aside from them, the academy does not name the other 20 or so people who vet applicants for the actors' branch, hoping to prevent buttonholing. But Mr. Davis assures: "You would know all of their names."

To be considered for admission, individuals must be sponsored by two members and submit a resume of their film credits. When the actors' committee meets, a candidate's headshot is circulated, but no film clips are allowed. What follows is supposed to be a wide-ranging discussion of the individual's achievements, focusing on artistic merit as opposed to less lofty qualities like box-office appeal or celebrity. "If somebody comes in and they have 10 credits, but most of them are 'Man in Lobby' or 'Man in Bar,' that's going to be a pretty short discussion," Mr. Davis says.

Mr. Schneider's brand of comedy may not be popular with critics and film snobs, but it has been the foundation of a steady Hollywood career that boasts more than 20 film roles, including several in which he got top billing. He has made a specialty of bug-eyed, demented losers like Marvin Mange in "The Animal," who was revived from a car wreck by organ transplants from various animals.

Audiences like his stuff. The $65.5 million gross for "Deuce Bigalow" topped the $57.5 million take for "The Cider House Rules," which was released on the same day as "Deuce" in 1999 and became a Best Picture nominee. Also auguring well for his chances with the Academy: Mr. Schneider had worked with Ms. Bates, his co-star in the Adam Sandler hit "The Waterboy," and with Mr. Hanks, a "Saturday Night Live" host during Mr. Schneider's time on the show.

Plenty of other comics have won admission to the academy, including former SNL types like Mike Myers and stars like Martin Lawrence and Jack Black. "They're not looking for Noel Coward types," Mr. Davis insists.

Mr. Schneider's name had been submitted once before, a few years back, but he says he didn't get a response. Scott Wilson, an actor he had met on the 1995 movie "Judge Dredd," offered to sponsor him again last year, on the heels of a string of hits Mr. Schneider has appeared in since the academy first rejected him. "I think Rob really is a comedic genius," Mr. Wilson says. "I support his talent."

The committee headed by Ms. Bates and Mr. Hanks didn't see it the same way, however. They made Mr. Schneider one of the 300 or so applicants who are denied admission each year, rather than one of the 150 or so who get in. The task of notifying unsuccessful candidates falls to Mr. Davis, who does not relish the role: "The president writes all the 'Welcome to the academy' letters. I write all the ones that start, 'Dear Mr. Schneider.' "

In a letter dated June 27, 2003, Mr. Davis tried to let Mr. Schneider down easy. "There's a three-sentence, carefully unspecific rejection letter that we normally send out to the sponsors of candidates not invited to Academy membership," Mr. Davis wrote, "but because your candidacy led to an unusually thoughtful (and lengthy) discussion," he had decided to elaborate to Mr. Schneider personally. "This is still a turndown, though," he warned.

It turns out that the "remarkably distinguished" group of actors considering his application had used his gross-out performances as the springboard into a "freewheeling consideration of actors going back to Chaplin," Mr. Davis wrote. In an interview, Mr. Davis explains that Mr. Schneider had his supporters, but "there were some people who felt that basically he has played very similar characters over and over." Yet others countered: "What about Chaplin? He played The Tramp over and over again."

In a close vote, the committee sent Mr. Schneider a clear message that it wants more from him. The group "will find it easier to endorse you for membership in the Academy once you've turned in a strong performance, comic or otherwise, that showcases additional strengths," Mr. Davis wrote. "I don't know whether you'll find that helpful at all, or whether you wish now that we had just sent you the short, clean blow-off." He was invited to reapply down the road.

Mr. Schneider felt the Hollywood establishment peering down its nose at him, and he didn't like it. "It's tough enough just trying to get work as an actor" without being so harshly judged by peers, he says. "What the hell was I thinking, wanting to join an organization like that, anyway?"

So Mr. Schneider did what one of his movie characters might do: lashed out in a comically inappropriate way.

"Dear Bruce Davis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences," his letter of reply began. "All I wanted was the free DVDs! Jesus Christ! That's the only reason anybody joins the Academy, for the free DVDs!" He added: "Though it was 'still a turn-down,' my thanks to the 'remarkably distinguished committee of actors' for considering me (Ed Begley Jr.?). I guess I still have my work cut out for me. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm just glad I was close. I'll try my best to 'turn in a strong performance, comic or otherwise,' very soon, and to work on those 'additional strengths.' "

It may be a while before Mr. Schneider's full depth and range as an actor come into view. He is currently at work on the sequel, "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," which features a female character who grew up in Chernobyl and has a penis on her face. "She wears a veil," Mr. Schneider says.

Realizing his academy membership may be on indefinite hold, Mr. Schneider concluded his letter with a final plea: "Is there any other way to get the free DVDs? Can I get half of the DVDs because I was close?"
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Old 02-28-04, 04:31 PM   #2
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Re: Rob Schneider Denied Academy Membership "All I want is Free DVDs"

Quote:
Originally posted by chanster
The task of notifying unsuccessful candidates falls to Mr. Davis, who does not relish the role: "The president writes all the 'Welcome to the academy' letters. I write all the ones that start, 'Dear Mr. Schneider.' "
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Old 02-28-04, 04:32 PM   #3
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Pretentious, self-congratulatory Hollywood as*holes. You know this guy may not be the greatest actor in the world, but he still brings in audiences. Out of all the members of the Academy, I bet he is more recognizable than half of them. Hollywood needs to stop believeing it's own crap and quit acting like the popular kids in high school.
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Old 02-28-04, 04:36 PM   #4
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"Can I get half of the DVDs because I was close?"

Haha. That's awesome. Rob is always there for a good laugh. It'd be even cooler if his movies (and TV shows) were as funny as he is.
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Old 02-28-04, 06:36 PM   #5
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He is currently at work on the sequel, "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," which features a female character who grew up in Chernobyl and has a penis on her face. "She wears a veil," Mr. Schneider says.
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Old 02-28-04, 06:58 PM   #6
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Re: Rob Schneider Denied Academy Membership "All I want is Free DVDs"

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Originally posted by chanster
Ed Begley Jr., who serves on the actors' branch admissions committee
Does anyone else see the irony that Ed Begley serves on the committee, but Rob Schneider is not allowed because he is a "great actor."

Jesus, I am no Schneider fan, but Ed makes Rob look like Lawrence Olivier .
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Old 02-28-04, 07:30 PM   #7
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Reminds me of how Rodney Dangerfield was trying to become a member for years and was routinely turned down. I wonder if they let Adam Sandler join?
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Old 02-28-04, 07:56 PM   #8
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He was on Leno talking about this just before 50 First Dates before.

It was funny as hell when he was discussing it, he didn't really seem to care too much but really wanted those damn DVDs.

And man, that letter is ****ing hillarious.
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Old 02-28-04, 09:44 PM   #9
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Rob rocks. While he hasn't been able to top Deuce yet, his movies were still funny. He did a great job making light of the situation.
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Old 02-28-04, 10:12 PM   #10
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what the heck... Martin Lawrence is in the Academy but not Rob Schneider? at least Schneider is funny.
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Old 02-29-04, 11:22 AM   #11
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C'mon people, let's not forget Ed Begleys important work as Soon to be dead drummer in This is Spinal Tap and Moron in Transylvania 6 - 5000. Oh wait, you mean he wasnt playing a moron in that movie? My apologies.

I couldn't care less for Schneider, but this just goes to show how these people are such elitist snobs.
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Old 03-03-04, 01:01 AM   #12
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I like Schnieder's movies over Sandler's, mostly due to the fact that it seems like Rob is making the movie for what it is supposed to be and nothing more, while Sandler in every single one of his movies he has to put a sappy tone to it.
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Old 03-03-04, 07:34 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by rushmore223
[B]C'mon people, let's not forget Ed Begleys important work as Soon to be dead drummer in This is Spinal Tap...
[David St. Hubbins]Great look, good drummer.[/David St. Hubbins]
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Old 03-03-04, 10:21 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by rushmore223
C'mon people, let's not forget Ed Begleys important work as Soon to be dead drummer in This is Spinal Tap and Moron in Transylvania 6 - 5000.


And he is starring in the new Stephen King miniseries, and we all know what gems those are.
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Old 03-03-04, 10:45 AM   #15
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My guess is that it was Tom "Bachelor Party" Hanks lobbying for Schneider, since he has a background in silly comedies himself.
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Old 03-03-04, 11:04 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by rushmore223
C'mon people, let's not forget Ed Begleys important work as Soon to be dead drummer in This is Spinal Tap and Moron in Transylvania 6 - 5000. Oh wait, you mean he wasnt playing a moron in that movie? My apologies.

I couldn't care less for Schneider, but this just goes to show how these people are such elitist snobs.
I'm not sure I see how they are elitist snobs. Martin Lawrence is in. I think they are just restrictive in who they let vote. I see no problem with that.
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Old 03-03-04, 11:25 AM   #17
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C'mon let Rob Schneider in the club! Free entertainment for stiffs.
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Old 03-03-04, 12:22 PM   #18
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I think the Schneider might make a more dramatic movie sometime soon. In the comic included with American Splendor Harvey Pekar mentioned that at one point Scheider hoped to star in Splendor.
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Old 03-03-04, 12:41 PM   #19
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Deuce Bigalow:Floppy will be the ticket.

A story of one mans journey to hardness. There will not be one dry eye in the theater when Rob says his final line.

"My Little Deuce bows to no one!"
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Old 03-03-04, 01:48 PM   #20
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I have a question sort of related to this topic. So anybody who wins an Academy Award automatically becomes a member? Is this true? How about the people who are nominated but do not win. Do they become members? Thanks.
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Old 03-03-04, 02:00 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by QuikSilver
I have a question sort of related to this topic. So anybody who wins an Academy Award automatically becomes a member? Is this true? How about the people who are nominated but do not win. Do they become members? Thanks.
I believe anyone who receives a nomination is invited to join.
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