News Nuggets: Viola Davis and Hollywood’s ongoing race problem

Mark Harris discusses Viola Davis and Hollywood’s ongoing race problem: “When she won the Screen Actors Guild award last month, Davis cited two actresses: Cicely Tyson, her inspiration in childhood, and [Meryl] Streep, her inspiration in college. Those names represent two different pasts and two possible futures. Tyson, whose early-‘70s performance in ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’ moved Pauline Kael to praise her ‘supreme integrity’ and predict that she was ‘on her way’ to becoming one of the all-time greats, never had the career she should have had. Streep, on the other hand, continues to fulfill and then redefine everything we imagine a great actress can do.” GRANTLAND

Is Diana Ross‘s upcoming Lifetime Achievement Grammy honor enough for the pioneering singer? “Though nominated 12 times for her work with the Supremes and for her solo efforts, the singer behind pop classis such as ‘Baby Love’ and ‘Upside Down’ has never taken home the award. This Saturday, she will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Recording Academy along with Gil Scott-Heron, the Allman Brothers, Glen Campbell, George Jones, Antonio Carlos Jobim and the Memphis Horns, at an invitation-only ceremony the night before the Grammy telecast. Given her stature and the unmatched breadth of her work, it seems a wan consolation prize.” LOS ANGELES TIMES

A history of awkward collaborations at the Grammys: “Certainly no one is going to gum up Adele‘s big live-performance comeback by packing the stage with other distracting artists, but only the good lord above knows what it will look like when Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, David Guetta, the Foo Fighters and Deadmau5 summon their Wonder Twin powers for the show’s first-ever salute to dance music … This year’s roster bodes well when it comes to WTF moments, but there are plenty more highlights from the ghost of Grammys past.” MTV

Oscar has a mixed history picking the best songs: “Some years the Oscars were spoiled for choice, and still managed to vote the wrong one into posterity. The 1937 crop included ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’ by the Gershwins and ‘That Old Feeling’ by Sammy Fain and Lew Brown. The winner that year? ‘Sweet Leilani’ from ‘Waikiki Wedding,’ which sounds like every other South Seas Tin Pan Alley number ever written … when Phil Collins won for ‘You’ll Be in My Heart’ from ‘Tarzan’ — over ‘Blame Canada’ from ‘South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut’ and Randy Newman‘s ‘Toy Story 2’ theme, ‘When She Loved Me’ — I wonder if even Collins approved.” CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Country music takes a backseat at this year’s Grammys: “Mainstream country has scored just 13 general-category trophies since the first Grammys in 1958. Just three of those came before 2000. [Lady Antebellum]’s win in the record of the year category in 2010 was just the second by a country artist. The Dixie Chicks, fresh from the band’s excommunication by country radio after remarks about President George W. Bush, won three general category awards at the 2007 Grammys. [Jason Aldean] notes all those winners have something in common: crossover success. Especially [Taylor Swift] and Lady A.” ASSOCIATED PRESS

Comics discuss why Billy Crystal rocks the Academy Awards: “… as fellow comic Paul Rodriguez notes, familiarity is a good thing in awards host jobs: ‘Everybody in the business is watching,” he says. “It’s the Super Bowl of show business. He’s safe.’ It’s also necessary, says comic Tom Papa, to be able to have experience with a difficult audience, as comics often do: ‘As the night goes on, four out of five people in that audience are losers, and disappointed. Halfway through that show you have a very tough crowd to make laugh.'” LOS ANGELES TIMES

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