Bruce Vilanch was the very best writer of the Academy Awards broadcasts. He began writing for the Oscars in 1989 and continued for the next 15 years. He wrote the excellent, extremely funny special material for hosts Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and David Letterman, and he was made head writer in 2000. He is responsible for one of my favorite Oscar moments, the one featuring Crystal’s Hannibal Lecter entrance. Vilanch has two Emmy Awards on his award shelf for his work on the Academy Awards. How meta!
He has roasted celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and William Jefferson Clinton. Never shy of controversy, Vilanch was responsible for the notorious material that had Ted Danson performing in blackface at a certain 1993 Friars Club Roast of his then-girlfriend, Goldberg. But, he also gave us the tender, touching You Made Me Watch You, send-off to Johnny Carson sung by Midler on Carson’s final night on The Tonight Show in 1993, winning an Emmy.
Vilanch has also written for The Tony Awards, The Grammys, and The Emmy Awards. It used to be that it wasn’t an award show if he wasn’t backstage cranking out the gags on the fly. He also shows up in person to give out awards at all sorts of LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS charity events.
Jewish, hairy and very funny, Vilanch is rarely been seen in public wearing anything than blue jeans and one of his many smartass T-shirts. His own website calls him:
”The man who put F U in funny.”
Next year, I think that Academy should hire Vilanch back as head writer for the awards broadcast, and they need to have Midler host.