All sorts of "leaks" are spoiling/drumming up interest in Sunday's Oscar ceremony. And the show's biggest get so far is Oprah Winfrey, who'll (almost certainly) introduce Gabourey Sidibe for Best Actress in Precious: Etc., which Winfrey co-produced.
Oscar ballots are due at 5pm today, so the announcement comes a bit late to sway voters wary of incurring Orpah's all-powerful wrath. But it makes me wonder if Oprah's been throwing her famously see-sawing weight around behind the scenes to secure an unlikely win for newcomer Sidibe.
Oprah's appearance as a Best Actress co-presenter is part of a new Oscar feature in which "friends" of the five Best Actor and Best Actress nominees fawn over the performers before the winner is revealed. You know, because the Academy Awards weren't enough of a circle jerk to begin with. It's a slight tweak of the well-received development last year that had prior winners in the big money categories showering hopefuls with gushy praise--an impressive addition to a program that already had the beautiful people immediately dialing their chiropractors to sooth the trauma of vigorously patting themselves on the back.
I don't doubt Winfrey's affection for Sidibe is genuine (she had one of her trademark Kleenex moments when she choked up about Sidibe's nomination--"only in America"--while dishing with Precious director Lee Daniels).
I do doubt that Oprah would leave her Chicago pleasure dome (or Montecito paradise, or Hawaii fortress) and put up with a papal procession to icky Hollywood if she weren't somewhat confident of a Sidibe win.
Then again, Sandra Bullock is the heavy favorite, followed by Meryl Streep. But if Oprah has to stand there next to some no-name vagabond friend that Sandra plucked from the Kodak Theater parking lot (unless it's Betty White--please be Betty White) while her anointed golden child loses out, expect (well, not really expect, but hope for) a flip-out that would make couch-jumping, Advil-fearing Tom Cruise suggest meds.