I’d Like To Thank The Academy, Nay, Harvey Weinstein
Feb22

I’d Like To Thank The Academy, Nay, Harvey Weinstein

You’re Bradley Cooper. People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2011. Comedic heartthrob from “The Hangover,” “Wedding Crashers,” Alias, and “Wet Hot American Summer.” But now, almost suddenly, you’ve starred in the dramedy “Silver Linings Playbook,” which garnered you an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. So you have to write a thank you speech, you know, just in case. Where do you begin?! One good place to start is a website created by Rebecca Rolfe–a master’s student at Georgia Tech who is studying verbal and physical expression of gratitude. Rolfe watched and analyzed all 207 available (out of 300 total) Oscar acceptance speeches since 1953. Not only does her website help write a speech and compare it with those of past Oscar winners, but it also provides the data to answer questions such as: How often do people cry during their acceptance speeches? How many winners thank their publicists before thanking their moms? And who indulges in the time-honored tradition of being cut off by the conductor? Here’s a sampling of stats the Newscripts gang found intriguing: – Despite the omnipresent Oscars phrase, “I’d like to thank the Academy,” only 40% of winners actually thank the Academy. To give some perspective, 48% thank their families. – Although 21% of actors and actresses get a little teary, they’ve only gone soft recently — 71% of Oscar tears have been shed since 1995. – 61% thanked their production reps. In fact, Harvey Weinstein is the most thanked person in the history of Oscar speeches. By comparison, 5% thanked God. And coming in close behind at 3% is “everybody” — that’s us! – Winners tend to get increasingly personal over the course of their speech, with 40% choosing to thank their families toward the end.                                     -1976 Best Director John G. Alvidsen (for “Rocky”) was the first winner in recorded Oscar speech history to thank his children. Incidentally, he was also the first to thank his psychiatrist. – Cuba Gooding Jr., Adrien Brody, Hillary Swank, and Jennifer Hudson are the lucky four to have gotten a bit choked up AND to have been cut off by the conductor. Considering only nine people have gotten cut off ever, we can only guess that the conductor is not terribly fond of drawn-out crying jags. -47% of women cradle their statuettes with two hands, whereas 26% of men instead hoist theirs up in the air with one arm. – Actors prefer to call their work a “film”; directors, a “movie.” – The speeches are actually getting longer: In the 1960s, speeches ran about 40 seconds. Now, the average speech is on the verge...

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Natalie Portman: Don’t Hate Her Because She’s Uber Talented
Feb28

Natalie Portman: Don’t Hate Her Because She’s Uber Talented

As if it weren’t enough to win the 2011 Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of a ballerina coming unhinged in “Black Swan,” Natalie Portman is apparently also blessed with science smarts.  A 1998 Journal of Chemical Education paper recently came across the Newscripts desk that the 29-year-old actress—then Natalie Hershlag, a high school student in Syosset, N.Y.—coauthored. The article, “A Simple Method To Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar,” was the result of an independent-study project carried out by Portman during her sophomore year at Syosset High. Intended to illustrate “environmentally friendly biotechnology for the utilization of renewable energy sources,” the work earned Portman a semifinalist position that year in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search, an annual competition organized by the Society for Science & the Public. The laboratory instructions Portman helped develop aim to teach high schoolers and undergraduates the principles of enzyme-catalyzed reactions by instructing them how to break down cellulose with a combination of cellulase, glucose dehydrogenase, and hydrogenase. The amount of hydrogen evolved in the process is indicated by a simple redox dye, benzyl viologen. “Natalie was an excellent student with an excellent work ethic,” says Jonathan Woodward, Portman’s coauthor and adviser at the time. He was then at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and now teaches high school chemistry in Knoxville, Tenn. “I am certain she would have excelled in chemistry had her career taken that...

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