He's not getting an Oscar, but he is getting the booty. And a ticket to the main event to boot. For Hollywood.com's complete Oscar coverage, go here.
Willie Fulgear, the man who found 52 out of 55 stolen Oscars, was presented here today with a $50,000 reward for returning the MIA gold-plated statuettes, which he found while rummaging around a garbage bin.
"It feels good," said Fulgear, the 61-year-old self-employed scrap-metal dealer said at an afternoon press conference at Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, where he was proclaimed a “local hero.”
After the money, the other big question involving Fulgear was: So, is he getting his ticket to Sunday's Oscar ceremony?
The answer today from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: Yes. In fact, Fulgear's getting two tickets: One for himself, and one for a guest (he says he's taking his 22-year-old son Allen).
"Anybody who says honest don't pay, send 'em to me," Fulgear said. "I'll tell 'em it pays. I'm a poor man and I stumbled across gold, and I gave it back. A lot of people wouldn't do that, but my Mama didn't raise me like that."
Fulgear said he intends to use the reward money to buy a house in his native Mississippi.
Roadway Express, which cut Fulgear's check, transported the 55 freshly minted Oscar statuettes from the Chicago foundry, where they were made, to a loading dock in Los Angeles, where they disappeared. The trucking company reported the awards missing March 10, and it offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the thieves’ arrest and conviction.
Technically, Fulgear didn’t qualify for that reward, but the trucking firm decided to give him a “special award” anyway, in appreciation of his honesty, said T.J. O’Connor, a Roadway vice president. The original reward may yet be given to a tipster — who thus far remains anonymous — who helped lead police to the culprits, he said.
Fulgear’s rewards may have only begun. He says numerous media organizations are in a bidding war to hire him as their official Oscar mascot. He won’t name names, but says the offers are as high as $10,000 so far. “I’ve talked to everybody, from the roaches all the way up to the gods,” he muses.
Whichever offer he chooses, come Sunday night he’s assured of arriving at the Shrine Auditorium in a limousine, decked out in black-tie attire; ironically, the Shrine is just a few miles from the lower-middle-class neighborhood where Fulgear and his son rent a one-bedroom apartment.
“I can’t remember the last time I rode in a limo. And I really can’t remember the last time I wore a tux,” he says.
Fulgear’s odyssey began Sunday night. In preparation for an upcoming move, he was searching for empty boxes to pack his belongings, when he literally stumbled upon the trophies near a supermarket Dumpster. Fulgear's find netted the return of 52 of the missing 55. Three of the trophies are still unrecovered.
Two Roadway Express employees were arrested in connection with the case, but prosecutors declined to file charges against one of them. Police have said more arrests might be forthcoming. Initially, police stopped short of saying that Fulgear was not under investigation for the crime. But as of Wednesday, Fulgear was completely ruled out as a suspect, police said.
Fulgear says plans are in the works to bring him onstage at the Oscars with host Billy Crystal, although officials at the Academy wouldn’t confirm it. Asked if he’s nervous about appearing live on worldwide TV, he said, “No, I’m not nervous. I been on TV all this week.” Friday morning, he’ll wake up early for a 4 a.m. interview with Katie Couric on NBC’s “Today” show, he said.
Fulgear’s pre-Oscar makeover has already begun: He spent Thursday morning getting a haircut and a shave, and when he arrived at the police station to receive his check, he exchanged his old blazer and fedora-style hat for a brand-spanking-new baseball cap and sports jacket, both emblazoned with the Roadway Express logo.
But he insisted that he isn’t destitute, as some news stories have portrayed him. Fulgear — a former soul musician who claims to have opened for artists like Al Green and Sam Cooke during the 1950s and ‘60s, in Chicago — is a dealer of junked auto engines and transmissions; his motto, he said, is “your trash is my cash.”
“I make pretty good money at what I do. But $50,000 all at once — yeah, that’s a lot to me,” Fulgear said.
As for his Oscar predictions, Fulgear is keeping silent. Son Allen admitted that they last movie they saw was “Saving Private Ryan.”
“We liked that one a lot. But I don’t know if it’s nominated or not,” Allen Fulgear said.
Hey, give the guy a break. His dad saved the Oscars.
London real-estate agents, beware: There's a new seller - and buyer - in the market. Madonna ("Evita"), who bought a $6.55 million mansion there a few weeks ago, is putting it back on the market in the wake of ex-Beatle George Harrison's stabbing Dec. 30 at his London mansion. According to the London Times, the Material Girl's security advisers told her that the four-story home she bought in the city's trendy Chelsea district was "perfectly visible from the road" and thereby unsuitable for a celebrity. But Big Ben shouldn't feel shafted; the singer/actress reportedly is back in London today searching for a new home with better security.
WOMEN ACCORDING TO WOOD: In the More Than We Needed to Know department, we find James Woods ("Any Given Sunday"), who likes talking about manhood - his manhood.
In an interview with Movieline, the 52-year-old Woods provides detail - whether you want to hear it or not - on his frisky Viagra tryout with a galpal. "We had sex for six hours, 37 minutes," he blabs. "I'm surprised I didn't die of a heart attack." (Well, we're glad you're OK, James.)
Since he's feelin' so good, Woods also decided to enlighten us with his perspectives on other women in Hollywood:
· Sharon Stone: "She has a bigger [unspecified bleep] than I do."
· Jennifer Lopez: "She always has to play the strong woman, like an FBI agent. If I want to [do a love scene] with an FBI agent, I'll turn gay."
· Gwyneth Paltrow: Would have put the moves on her, but "I acted with her mother [Blythe Danner] and I'd feel like I was robbing the cradle."
· Ex-girlfriend Heather Graham: The twentysomething "It" star supposedly told Woods she didn't want to marry or start a family until she was 40. "[I asked her,] 'How do you know you'll get the same attention from men when you're that age?'"
· Susan Sarandon: "Susan Sarandon ruined the world when she had a kid when she was, like [bleeping] 96 years old. Now every actress wants to have a kid at 90."
· Ex-girlfriend Sean Young, she of some notorious run-ins with Woods: "Most of the …whining and moaning chicks do, I don't really pay much attention to."
· Brooke Shields: "Would you rather go out to dinner with the person you love, or sit and listen to her [bleep] about what happened on the set of 'Suddenly, Susan'?"
Just to show, he thinks about guys, too, Woods had this to say about "Any Given Sunday" director Oliver Stone: "[He] eats Viagra like candy corn."
Again, more than we needed to know, James.
STALKED OUT: Today in Los Angeles, prosecutors declined to file stalking charges against a photographer arrested last weekend for allegedly trailing Barbra Streisand and hubby James Brolin.
According to authorities, Streisand and Brolin were cruising - actually, since it's Los Angeles, the term should be inching --- down Highway 101 on Saturday when they noticed someone following them in a van. Deciding it wasn't the traffic that was keeping the van on their tail, the couple pulled their vehicle into a nearby sheriff's station.
Later, as Streisand and Brolin drove on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, they noticed the same man - and the same van, reports said. Overall, the couple said they were trailed for more than 50 miles through five cities. The driver, photographer Wendell Wall, 28, was held for investigation of stalking on $1 million bail.
NO "GREEN CARD": French-born actor Gérard Depardieu ("The Man in the Iron Mask") has a bone to pick with Americans. (Gee, how unusual for the French.)
"Sometimes they get on my nerves, their way of controlling everything," the actor today told a Warsaw press conference. "Cinema nowadays has become an industry ruled by money and of course the Americans."
In protest of the big, ol' bad United States, the actor has refused an offer of citizenship, something he pursued in the 1990 comedy "Green Card."
"I prefer to remain a citizen of the world," he said.
But strangely, Depardieu's protest hasn't prevented him from cashing in on American cultural domination; Depardieu is set to appear in Disney's "102 Dalmatians."
In a rare television acting appearance, Jill Clayburgh is a wife, mother and art gallery owner who launches a quiet (occasionally humorous) campaign to find a potential replacement for herself in her family's life after discovering that her cancer has returned. Filmed in and around Montreal, this drama was called initially "Leaving Home."