Thursday, August 21, 2014
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Egad! James Earl Jones an EGOT?

Yesterday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that James Earl Jones, the voice of America, will receive an honorary Oscar at a November ceremony where Oprah Winfrey will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Does this mean the bearlike baritone is officially an EGOT, the so-called Grand Slam of entertainment designation given to possessors of the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony?

Egad! James Earl Jones an EGOT?

James Earl Jones presides over the Field of Dreams
James Earl Jones presides over the Field of Dreams

Yesterday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that James Earl Jones, the voice of America, will receive an honorary Oscar at a November ceremony where Oprah Winfrey will get the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Does this mean  that the most resonant bass is officially an EGOT,  winner of the so-called Grand Slam of entertainment, given to possessors of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony?

Let the record show that Jones won an two Emmys in 1991 (for Gabriel's Fire and Heat Wave), a Grammy in 1976 (spoken word, for Great American Documents) and two Tonys, in 1969 for The Great White Hope and in 1987 for Fences. (Jones' one competitive Oscar bid was in 1971 for the film version of Great White Hope.) His honorary Oscar would make him an EGOT, right?

Wrong, according to the Los Angeles Times,  which sniffs that EGOT status goes only to winners of competitive, not honorary, awards.

I prefer the ruling of Adam Bonin, Solomon of that essential blog, A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago, who judges that Mr. Jones "should be an EGOT with an asterisk," like Barbra Streisand (winner of a Special Tony) and Liza Minnelli (winner of a Special Grammy).

Congratulations to Mr. Jones, who deserves our attention and affection for enlivening the big screen since his deadpan debut as Lt. Lothar Zogg, B-52 bombardier in Dr. Strangelove. From serving as the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars and the voice of Mufasa in The Lion King to serving as America's surrogate father in movies such as Field of Dreams, Mr. Jones is an axiom of American pop culture. By one estimate, his is the most-familiar voice in America, the authority who reassures that "This is CNN," and "Welcome to Verizon."

My favorite Jones big-screen performances are as the boxer in The Great White Hope and as Diahann Carroll's gentlemen caller in Claudine (1974). Favorite small-screen turn? As Alex Haley in Roots: The Next Generation. I'm also very fond of his performance in Field of Dreams. Your favorites?

 

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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