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The Jennifer Lopez Oscar Campaign Takes Flight

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.

This week: 

  • Bombshell is not as explosive as you’d think.
  • We will get J. Lo that Oscar!
  • Remembering the man who was Big Bird.
  • Countess Luann is the new Mariah Carey.
  • A very important Cardi B update.

J. Lo’s Oscars Campaign Hits the Skies

Awards season is in full swing, with Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and Critics Choice Awards all announcing their nominations this week. Forget all the takes about who was snubbed and all the fretting in Hollywood PR campaign offices right now. The best award season story of the week took place on a JetBlue airplane. 

Former Daily Beast entertainment intern, current MEL Magazine writer, and, as a person on the right side of history, passionate J. Lo fan Joseph Longo asked the pilot of his flight from New York to Los Angeles to make an announcement asking all passengers to watch Hustlers in order to celebrate Jennifer Lopez’s Golden Globe nomination. Through the power of Twitter, the pilot did. 

“As of this morning, Jennifer Lopez was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work in Hustlers,” the pilot said over the intercom. “Hustlers is one of our in-flight movie options. We’d greatly appreciate if you join us in supporting Ms. Lopez and watch Hustlers on our flight today. Thanks for your support, and we hope Jennifer wins that Oscar.” 

Lopez eventually caught wind of the story and tweeted her thanks to Longo and JetBlue. 

At The Daily Beast, we believe strongly in activism and sticking your neck out to do what’s right, so we couldn’t be more impressed by our alumnus, Joseph Longo. Proud of our boy.

Remembering Caroll Spinney, Who Played Big Bird and Oscar

In 2015, I got to spend time with Caroll Spinney, the man who for nearly 50 years gave life to Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street, and his wife, Debra. 

The first time I met them was in a conference room at the Tribeca Film Festival’s main office. They were extremely excited for Spinney’s unmasking in the documentary I Am Big Bird, which revealed the surprising darkness Spinney had to work through while bringing sunny days to the childhoods of generations. It was also a film about Caroll and Debra’s love story, something Debra especially was very touched and flattered by. 

When I arrived, Spinney had been killing time by sketching a drawing of his famous character on the chalkboard saying, “Big Bird Wuz Here!” It was his suggestion to take out his Oscar puppet, excited by how thrilled it would obviously make me.

He got emotional several times, especially when talking about the children he met. There was one five-year-old boy who wrote him who was dying of cancer, and he knew it. Spinney called him in Big Bird’s voice, delighting the boy and assuring him that he was his friend. After the boy hung up, he turned to his parents and said, “Big Bird called me! He’s my friend!” Then he closed his eyes and passed away.

Spinney was so warm and kind to me, and it is impossible to describe the impact he’s made with his work. He passed away this week at the age of 85. He was my friend. 

Money Can’t Buy You Class, But It Can Buy You a Christmas Concert

For many years, I spent more money that I would like to share publicly attending Mariah Carey’s formerly annual Christmas concert residency in New York. It was the highlight of my holiday season, spilling beer on my friends as we linked arms in nervous anticipation to see if she’d hit the high note in “Hero” and then pissing off everyone around us as we catapulted our vocal chords from our throats singing along to her “All I Want For Christmas Is You” finale. 

Carey’s New York Christmas concert residency is a blast. She also did not have one this year. The rudeness. 

Thankfully, I found a ridiculous, yet somehow extremely gratifying pop-culture adjacent replacement. My friend and I went to see Real Housewives of New York City star Luann de Lesseps’ Christmas-themed cabaret, Countess and Friends, at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. It was the perfect Christmas activity.

Quote de Lesseps’ friend and RHONY co-star Barbara Kavovit, the Countess is “no Adele,” and she’s no Mariah Carey either. But there’s something pleasingly old-timey about the whole thing. Her hamminess onstage. The “that’s showbiz, baby!” aesthetic of the lounge act show. The singing is…fine. The ambience of being in an Atlantic City casino. 

It was all very transporting, not necessarily to a time that was more glamorous, but when there was still a touch of fanciness combatting the commercial glare of Christmas, that red-velvet, martini-in-hand vibe that, as with class, money can’t buy.

Cardi B’s Courtroom Runway

I would just like to draw to everyone’s attention that this is what Cardi Bi wore to the courthouse this week. 

What to watch this week: 

Uncut Gems: Adam Sandler is astonishingly good and this movie is so crazy stressful. 

The Kennedy Center Honors: Every gay knows this is the best variety telecast of the year!

Richard Jewell: So much of it is infuriating. Yet so much is also pretty compelling.

What to skip this week: 

6 Underground: Truly shocked to hear the new Michael Bay movie is not good. 

Black Christmas: This kind of movie will never be my thing!

Richard Jewell: So much of it is infuriating. Yet so much is also pretty compelling.