Oscar's Newest Golden Boy
During the past few months as awards season was in full swing, Dave Karger was nearly as ubiquitous as any of the acting nominees for last year’s films. Recognizable to film buffs thanks to his frequent appearances on Access Hollywood, as well as a past co-hosting stint on Turner Classic Movies with Robert Osborne, the handsome 37-year-old journalist, a senior editor at Entertainment Weekly, is the go-to guy for delivering informed, insightful commentary during awards season.
This year Karger, who is gay, was enlisted by the Academy to follow in the footsteps of his friend Osborne and the late Army Archerd as the official red carpet greeter and interviewer. Karger tells The Advocate how he predicts the winners, his opinion on how Anne Hathway and James Franco fared as Oscar hosts, and his involvement in the night’s gayest moment.
The Advocate: You’ve been championing The King’s Speech since last summer. How did you know it would go the distance?
Dave Karger: I saw The King’s Speech last August before it had its premiere at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals and I was just drawn in by the look of it and by the direction and acting. I just fell in love with it as so many people did. I interviewed Colin Firth on his 50th birthday in Toronto and had written something in [Entertainment Weekly] about how it was probably going to be an Oscar film. It’s amazing all these months later that it actually happened. I love The Social Network too, but I got the sense from all the Oscar voters I spoke to who told me King’s Speech was the film that was resonating with them and speaking to them on an emotional level.
You saw Colin and the producers after the awards last night. Did they give you props for your support?
They did actually. Colin said I was one of the true believers in the movie. It was very sweet that he remembered that and it meant a lot. I’m sure by last night Colin Firth was very sick of me. He’d had to talk to me every two days at some award show. I’d interviewed him for the magazine and the website and in front of an audience at the Palm Springs film festival, and on the carpet last night. But each time I saw him there was something different to talk about and he’s very easy to talk to, so that kept it interesting. He’s a great guy.
Network was the early favorite and won so many critics’ awards. How did King's Speech overtake it at all the guilds?
Network is a fantastic movie. I love it and The King’s Speech equally.
The Social Network is more of a critics’ film and King’s Speech is more
of an audience film. In between those two choices, the Academy usually
goes for the audience film. It’s been my mantra throughout this season. I
kept saying to myself that Oscar voters are not critics. I told myself
that they’d have a harder time giving the award to a film that’s a
little on the colder side, like The Social Network is. King’s Speech is a
warmer movie, which really helps its case.
You’re the successor to Army Archerd and Robert Osborne as the Academy Award's official red carpet greeter/interviewer. How did this come about?
It was as much a surprise to me as everyone. A month or two ago I was asked by the Academy to help them with programming on their “Road to Oscars” series on Oscar.com. I helped put together these two minute long packages about each of the 10 best picture nominees. About two weeks before the ceremony I got a call asking if I’d be willing and interested to be their official greeter. It’s a position I’ve known about and dreamed about for years. The first year I went to the Oscars was 1998, which was the year Titanic won. I remember walking down the carpet and seeing Army Archerd, and thinking that one day I would absolutely love to do that. And later Robert Osborne, who is someone I know and look up to and I cohosted a weekend of Turner Classic Movies with him. To follow in the footsteps of Army Archerd and Robert Osborne, are you kidding me? It was an honor.
I’m sure it’s harder work than it seems. Did you manage to have some fun?
had such a blast. It was truly one of the highlights of my career.
There were 722 people in the bleachers and they were like an audience on
Oprah’s "Favorite Things." I thought their heads would start exploding
when I announced Sandra Bullock or Colin Firth or Celine Dion. They went
bonkers. I loved it.
hich celebrity most surprised you last night?
Russell Brand. He was out of his mind. I loved every second of it. It’s the Oscars, so most people are in serious mode. He grabbed the microphone out of my hand and started addressing the crowd. It was hilarious. Another surprising moment was Eli Wallach. He also took the mike out of my hand and started speaking to the crowd. It’s moments like that on the red carpet that I live for.
Who did you find to be especially gracious last night?
Nicole Kidman was so lovely. I wasn’t surprised by it because she’s always gracious, but she was someone who was so composed and looked fantastic. I just love her and Keith Urban. They’re such a cute couple. And Mark Wahlberg, who I didn’t know before I met to do some stuff with The Fighter. He’s actually a really kind, considerate, and thoughtful guy. He’s very polite and sincere. It was a highlight of the awards season to get to know him a little bit. He looked fantastic last night on the red carpet.
What did you think last night’s show?
After I did the red carpet greeting I had to host a backstage show on Oscar.com, so I wasn’t 100% watching the show because I had to be commenting on what was going on backstage. What I saw of the hosts seemed fine to me but now I’m reading all of these comments tearing them apart. I loved that Anne Hathaway sang and James Franco came out in drag. They were going for it in a way that was admirable, but now that I’ve read these horrible reviews I feel I need to watch again and see if I misjudged it.
I thought they were both game. James was Tweeting during the show so we can probably anticipate some performance art project to come from his hosting.
Yeah. When you have someone whose sensibility is as out there as James Franco’s, the Oscar telecast doesn’t always allow for that kind of expression. My concern going in was whether he was a square peg being shoved into a round hole. I’m glad they took a chance on them. I think it’s fun to have new people do it.