February 23, 2015: Oscars Edition: Neil Patrick Harris Disappoints as Host, Highs and Lows From the Telecast, What's in the Oscar Gift Bag?

By Beth Kormanik February 23, 2015, 8:16 AM EST

1. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS DISAPPOINTS AS HOST: Viewers may remember a well-choreographed opening number from Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris, or the Birdman spoof that had him addressing the audience while wearing his underwear, but overall his performance as host fell short. The Guardian: “The same can be said for Harris in general. After he crushed it presenting the Tonys and the Emmys, he has seemed like an ideal Oscars host. Finally, he gets his big break and, well, he choked. But maybe it wasn’t Harris as much as his material.”

Live-bloggers at The New York Times agreed: “I think we’ve officially seen the outer limit of NPH’s gifts, or at least the outer limit of his ability to overcome soft writing. He couldn’t rescue this thing, which, given that other people are doing great things with hosting, is going to taint him.”

2. HIGHS AND LOWS FROM THE ACADEMY AWARDS: ABC experienced some technical difficulties with its live stream of the Academy Awards—one of the low points of the 87th edition of Hollywood’s biggest night. But high points included Best Supporting Actress winner Patricia Arquette using her speech to argue for wage equality and Lady Gaga singing a tribute to the classic film The Sound of Music. Read more picks for the best and worst moments of the night from New York’s Vulture blog:

3. WHAT'S IN THE OSCAR GIFT BAG?: The eye-popping value of the gift bags doled out for a select group of Oscar nominees—a record at $168,000 each—was announced from the stage during the telecast. But what exactly did the haul, assembled by the company Distinctive Assets, include? Vanity Fair: “The bags include an impressive array of incredible perks (free Silvercar Audi rentals for a year), slightly odd services (a $20,000 astrology reading), and treats that will probably never cross an A-list star’s lips (an $800 custom candy and dessert buffet). Other gifts include a $12,500 glamping vacation from Terravelo Tours, a train trip on the Rocky Mountaineer, a nine-night Italian vacation package valued at $11,500, $4,000 worth of liposuction, a $1,200 Matrone bicycle, non-invasive L.E.D. light therapy, and $25,000 of custom furniture perfect for giving their Malibu pad a special look.”


BOSTON:  The 11th annual “A Taste of Ginger” fund-raiser will be held at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston on March 23. The evening raises funds for Joslin Diabetes Center’s Asian American Diabetes Initiative.

CHICAGO:  Chef Stephanie Izard will open her third restaurant late this summer. Called Duck Duck Goat, the new West Loop eatery will serve Chinese-inspired fare.

LAS VEGAS:  The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority voted Friday to purchase the Riviera Hotel & Casino for $182.5 million and use the 26-acre site for the planned Las Vegas Global Business District.

LOS ANGELES:  Two boutique hotels, the Landsby in Solvang and the Laguna Beach House, are slated to open this spring. The properties, at 41 and 36 rooms, respectively, feature contemporary design, with the Laguna Beach property incorporating surfboards and skateboards into the design.

Local event listings from Masterplanner:

NEW YORK:  With IMG's contact with Lincoln Center expired, where will New York Fashion Week take place in the fall? Women's Wear Daily: “Sources indicated that the group is looking at three potential new locations. One is Skylight at Moynihan Station in the post office at 360 West 33rd Street; another is Skylight Clarkson Sq., a 70,000-square-foot ground-level space at 550 Washington Street in west SoHo (where Ralph Lauren has shown the last few seasons and where the men’s shows will take place July 13 to 16), and a third option would be erecting a tent on a pier in TriBeCa.”

Local event listings from Masterplanner:

ORLANDO:  The Rosen Plaza hotel will open a new nightclub on Wednesday. Club 39 at the Plaza will have indoor and outdoor space for as many as 1,500 guests.

TORONTO:  Canada’s National Ballet School will host its “Affair to Remember” gala at the Carlu on March 6. The event will offer a cocktail reception, a Mediterranean dinner from A La Carte Kitchen, a ballet performance, and a 1950s-inspired casino.

WASHINGTON, D.C.:  The 12th annual Georgetown French Market, held in the Book Hill neighborhood, returns April 24-25. In addition to the open-air displays from shops and French cuisine from local restaurants, there will be live music, strolling mimes, face painting, and more.

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With contributions from Jenny Berg in Chicago, Alesandra Dubin in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Jill Menze, and Anna Sekula in New York.

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