Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Madison- Felix Awards: The Categories of Oddity

The Madison-Felix Awards was an awards show in Buffalo New York, which ran from 1995-2005. It was put together by my friend Big Brian and I. In reality it was a parody of an awards show mixed with an open bar drinking contest. Still it was fun and irreverent and some of the best parties I've ever had. But like all good times, they eventually drifted off to the land of nostalgia. The next several blogs are dedicated to their memory.
         The categories of the Madisons-Felix’s varied over the years, but they were what set the show apart. It was the one aspect I always loved working on. Now several of them were your standard lot- Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Actor, Best Makeup/Special Effects, Best Musical Score, Best Animation, Best Dialogue, and Best Picture .
          But we never filled them with nominees one would consider to be conventionally Oscar material or which even made much sense in the context of the category. Such as one year we gave Best Makeup/Special Effects to My Dinner with Andre. Another time we gave Best Dialogue to The Wild Bunch and showed the blood soaked finale where the only discernable dialogue was William Holden yelling, “Bitch!” at a woman before shooting her in the face. And, of course, Best Picture was always reserved for the foulest clip that we had scrounged up that year. Ones that a person would need a few drinks to laugh at.
          But, to us, these were minor categories. The ones which were expected from a fake/real awards show. Our true joy was all the others we came up with.
          Traditionally we started the show with three non-categories. Ones that didn’t mean anything to most people. Best Best Boy, Best Gaffer, and Best Key Grip- later to be replaced with Best Executive Producer. These were the slots where we decided to show great bits and pieces of films. They were the final hold-overs from the high minded notions with which Big Brian and I started the Madison-Felix’s. Great scenes from good films. 
          The categories which most interested Big Brian and I were the ones that are never seen in an awards show, not even The Razzies or Golden Turkey Awards, and perhaps with good reason.
          Awards such as:
Best Unintentional Cameo (small parts played by actors before they became famous, such as Denzel Washington in Death Wish, a fat Richard Simmons in Satyricon or John Ratzenberger in Ghandi)
Most Predictable Plot (Usually went to something obvious like Titanic or JFK or La Bamba)
The Overacting Achievement Award (Take your pick on this one)
Most Stilted Performance of a Rock Star in a Film (The whole band in Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, Madonna in Who’s that Girl, Paul McCartney in Eat the Rich)
 Worst Sequel (I’m sure everyone can fill in the blank here. It’s actually more valid now than when we first came up with it)
  Most Annoying Person in a Film Award (Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Franklin in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre- everyone clapped when he got skewered.)
The William Shatner Award for Acting Excellence (where William Shatner was nominated for every category. We did this for a few years before the joke wore thin. He first won it for Judgement at Nuremburg)
Most Annoying Use of a Child in a Film (Why were we the first to come up with this? It’s something everyone complains about!)
Most Embarrassing Skeleton in the Closet for An Established Actor (Some shit stain of a movie that an actor took to pay the bills. Ala Russ Tamblin in Cabin Boy or Henry Fonda in Tentacles. We later shortened this to the less cumbersome Most Respected Actor in a Bad Film)
 Most Smoking in a Film (The novelty of this one wore off quickly and it only lasted two years.)
Best One-liner (Bits and pieces which struck us as funny, but we canned this one after four years as the lack of context would yield little more than a chuckle.)
Pretty Boy Actor You’d Most Like to Whack (Whatever talentless collection of duckface-posing nonentities where cluttering up Tiger Beat that year)
Ditzy Actress You’d Most Like to Strangle (The sister of the previous category. Same criteria, just switch genders)

          Looking over this list fills me with such schadenfreude. The last of the regular categories were our favorite and the ones which Brain and I had the most evil joy. Most Deceiving Title might sound innocuous, but when we nominate The Greatest Story Ever Told or It’s Good to be Alive: The Roy Campenella Story you can see the cynicism bubbling over.

          Same for the next one, Best Comedic Performance in a Non-Comedic Role and we showed such wonders as Patty Duke in The Miracle Worker, Christopher Reeves in Superman, Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot and so on. We perhaps got too much joy from coming up with the nominations.

          The next category requires a bit of explanation. In the third year we can up with the Best Plot of a ____ award. The blank would change each year and represented a genre of film (or sub-genre, or whatever) which were pretty much exactly the same. For example the first year was Best Plot for a Zombie Film (of which at the time there was only a limited selection the Romero trilogy and Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things).

After that it was Best Plot for a Mind Transfer Film which is always the exact same movie over and over again (Freaky Friday, Vice Versa, 18 Again- refried crap shoveled in a new package). We then moved onto Best Plot for an Ernest Film (which really dates us a lot). It was given away by our good friend Frank, who delivered a heartfelt non-ironic speech on what the Ernest franchise meant to him and how it brought joy into his life. The next two years we did a few obvious ones Best Plot for a Police Academy Film and Best Plot for a Friday the 13th Film.
This is the one Rob hated, which is why I'm showing it.

Next was a flash of genius from Rob Leftwich- Best Plot for a Talking Pig Movie (there was a plethora of them at the time), in which he delivered a heartfelt speech on the wonders of Babe: Pig in the City. We began running out of ideas for this and it wasn’t until two weeks before the show, in a fit of adrenaline fueled inspiration, I came up with Best Plot for a Pregnant Man Film. There were exactly four at the time- The Pregnant Man, Rabbit Test, Junior, and Enemy Mine. The last one won.

The last year, completely out of concepts, we came up with Best Plot for an Awards Show- We nominated Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Grammy Awards, and The Madison-Felix Awards. Guess who won?
          Finally we come to the Lifetime Achievement Award. Initially Brian and I floundered with this, not really knowing what we wanted to do with it. Hence the first three winners: Mike Horner a proliferant porn actor from the 80s and 90s, who always played his roles with a comedic bent. If there is a comedy porn niche, he should be considered its Charlie Chaplin. And Monkeyhead, Brian’s brother. For his clips scene- every winner got a montage footage bit with a song playing in the background- we showed a bunch of monkey’s doing horrible things to each other, of one sort or another, to the tune of I’m an Ape Man by The Kinks. And then Marlon Brando where we showed clips of him interspersed with those of Jabba the Hut, with the Mr. Yuck song. I must say here that these three were all chosen by Big Brian. He thought they were a laugh riot, while I, and everyone watching, got only the mildest of chuckles.
So for the next year I put my foot down. We would only give the Lifetime Achievement Award to someone who was well known, having had a long career, but who you would never think to give an award to. Boom, we had our criteria and I must say that the audience received the award with much more applause and enjoyment as it went on.
 For the fourth year we gave it to Don Knotts to the tune of He’s Got the Look by Roxette. The fifth it was George Peppard to the tune of Duke of Earl by Gene Chandler. The sixth was Bob Newhart to He’s Got Personality by Lloyd Price. 7th was Alan Hale Jr. (The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island) to I’m Too Sexy for my Shirt by Right Said Fred. 8th, our most evil year, Christopher Reeve to the tune of Walk Like a Man by Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons. And last, but not least, Charles Bronson to the tune of I Think I Love You by David Cassidy and the Partridge Family.
          We spent a lot of time putting these together. And reading them over on paper, it scans as just kind of cute. A novel idea, but the execution always made the crowd roar. As in a lot of these things about the show, you had to be there.