Oscar? He's an old friend of this author

William Kennedy uses his love of movies to help choose Academy Award nominees and vote for winner

By MARK McGUIRE, Staff writer
First published: Tuesday, January 23, 2007

William Kennedy's youth was spent inside Albany's movie theaters -- screens with glamorous names like the Palace, the Strand, the Grand, the Ritz and the Paramount.

"There was always a double feature," said Kennedy, 79. "When you went to the movies, you really went for a three-hour stretch."

During Oscar season, three hours would be a short day's work for Kennedy.

The award-winning author, who adapted his Albany-set novel "Ironweed" for the screen and worked with Francis Ford Coppola on 1984's "The Cotton Club," has been an Oscar voter for almost two decades. As one of the 5,830 eligible members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Kennedy picks nominees and votes in most of the nontechnical categories. All of the 79th annual Academy Award nominees will be announced this morning.

He recently described the process -- and no, we didn't ask him whom he's voting for:

The DVD flood: "Basically they send what they call 'screeners.' ... I get 70 or 80 films; they come starting in November. I watch as many as are possible -- I don't think it's possible to watch 60 to 70 to 80 films stem to stern. You have to make choices. ... Sometimes you know that it's a dog. Sometimes I watch two or three a day."

The final cut: "It's pretty difficult to narrow down from 70 to five (nominees). That's more difficult than narrowing down from five to one."

Love story: "I never get sick of watching movies. I used to be a movie critic: I used to watch five movies a day. I couldn't get enough of them. They're a part of my life."

Mark McGuire can be reached at 454-5467 or by e-mail at [email protected]. Visit his blog at http://blogs.timesunion .com/television/.

Oscar insider

Readers can pick the top winners in our annual Oscar contest. The ballot will run in Friday's Life Scene section and appear the same day online.

The 79th Academy Awards will air at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25. on WTEN Ch. 10

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William Kennedy