Reminder: Carrie Fisher Wrote Jokes For The Oscars
If Princess Leia had her way, you would have seen Whoopi Goldberg getting some deep tissue work during the Oscars.
While most people remember Carrie Fisher for her cosmic adventures, that’s not how she thought of herself. “When I was little I didn't want to be an actress,” Fisher said. “I'm a writer.” She even rewrote a lot of her Star Wars lines, helping to create a wise-cracking princess who wouldn’t take crap from a stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder like Han Solo. Seriously, the guy’s a laser brain.
That ability to come up with witty one-liners made Fisher one of Hollywood’s most sought after -- and most highly paid -- script doctors. She wrote both the novel and screenplay for her autobiographical comedy Postcards from the Edge. She punched up the jokes on a decade’s worth of comedies, including Robin Williams’ Hook, Whoopi Goldberg’s Sister Act, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Last Action Hero, Coyote Ugly, Intolerable Cruelty, and Scream 3.
In addition to joke writing skillz, Fisher was a show-biz blue blood (Mom and Dad are Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher).
That made Fisher a natural choice for long-time Oscar show writer Bruce Vilanch's all-star Academy Awards writing team.
“Whoopi was hosting and we were trying to figure out funny things for her to do," says VIlanch. "Enya had written a song that was nominated, and it was a typical Enya song, the kind that someone noted you only hear when you’re getting a massage.”
So the writer team decided it would be hilarious if Enya began her song, then a curtain rose on one side of the stage where Whoopi would be getting some shiatsu treatment.
“It was Carrie who ran with the idea,” says Vilanch, “turning it into a kind of Rockettes massage-table number, huge and elaborate. Everybody loved it except Enya. You never saw it.”
Opportunity blown, Enya.
Fisher wrote jokes for multiple Oscar shows, sometimes causing backstage trouble. On the night of another Academy Awards show, Fisher showed up in a black tux pantsuit. The problem was her hair and shoulders -- they were embellished for the big night with boatloads of gold glitter.
“I had assigned her to the green room, where people wait before they go on the air, because everybody knew her and she was a reassuring presence to a lot of actors who didn’t have a character to play that night,” remembers Vilanch. “Of course, she hugged them all. After we’d been on the air about 20 minutes, the director called me, shrieking, ‘Tell her to stop hugging people! This looks like the god—- Tinker Bell special! Everybody’s covered in glitter!’”
It’s a story that likely would have been shared by Fisher’s comedy writing hero, a 20th-century satirist with an eye for social stupidity. “By about 16, I wanted to be Dorothy Parker,” she told The Los Angeles Times. “I figured out the ways I am like her…. She’s short. She was half Jewish. She had brown hair and brown eyes. She was an alcoholic or addict. And she married a gay guy!”
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Top image: 20th Century Fox