Story By: G. H. HARDING

Neil Patrick Harris

OSCARS 87 --- I’m feeling a bit meh about last night’s Oscars presentation. I love Neil Patrick Harris - his Hedwig was unquestionably one of the best things I've ever seen on stage - but, with a musical monologue beginning last night’s show – which reminded me more or less of Rob Lowe’s disastrous turn with Snow White years back- the show never really picked up any steam.

Let’s face it: last year’s show with Ellen DeGeneres in the host post was simply stupendous … and, her so-called selfie resonated around the world. Harris predicted an even bigger stunt and it turned out to be his pre-show predictions of who would win and what would happen. With his answers encased in a briefcase in a lucite case on stage, it was tricky and at times awkward stunt that proved funny … but, certainly not the world-wide attention that Ellen's photo had garnered.

Harris was good, don't get me wrong, but with an odd echo in the sound that persisted all night, it was an uphill battle from the get go. For me, when he walked the audience and would have an encounter with, say, Steve Carell, that was when he was at his best.

In fact, the moment with Carell was total improve and total fun. There should have been more moments like that.

Though Birdman came up with the major awards, I was stunned that the movie’s Michael Keaton wasn't voted Best Actor. Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne were the Academy’s choices; interesting in that both performers essayed characters who were afflicted with terrible diseases.

John Legend and Common’s performance of their song “Glory” was certainly the high point of the show. The audience in the cavernous Dolby Theatre was totally captivated and as the camera panned to both producers Oprah Winfrey and David Oyelowo, whose emotion showed on both their faces; it was indeed a soaring moment.

Tim McGraw’s performance of Glen Campbell’s “I’m Not Going To Miss You” starkly alone was also a show high. If you've followed Campbell’s career and a fan, it was terrifically moving moment.

Graham Moore, writer of The Imitation Game delivered a stirring speech about staying weird and staying different. Bravo!

If you've not seen this movie, you're missing one of the best films -based on a true event- in quite some time. I was very pleased it won for Best Adapted screenplay.

Lady Gaga singing a medley of songs from The Sound Of Music (its 50th anniversary imminent) at three-hours plus into the show, was just downright bizarre. And, an appearance by Julie Andrews, awkward yet appropriate. Andrews even quipped, “I blinked and suddenly here we are."

The final words came from Birdman multi-winner Alejandro González Iñárittu, who saluted his fellow Mexicans struggling to create a corruption-free government, and to Mexican immigrants struggling to live legally in the U.S.

It was a good, if long and at times awkward, program. Harris signed off, saying “Buenos notches, everyone.”

SAY UNCLE – Being a life-long fan of TV’s Man from U.N.C.L.E., I followed with great interest the behind-the-scenes drama of a feature film re-boot. First, Steven Soderbergh was going to direct it with George Clooney in the titular role of Napoleon Solo; then Guy Ritchie signed on to direct, with Henry Cavill in the role, assisted by Armie Hammer in the role of Illya Kuryakin.

Last week I saw the trailer and the first thing I realized was that Ritchie’s film is a true re-imagining. No miming the original TV series … and, I think that is a brilliant idea.

One thing I always admired about director Ritchie was his original and refreshing take on almost everything he’s done; be it the brilliant Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Snatch (2000) or his two Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey, Jr.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was broadcast on NBC from September 22, 1964, to January 15, 1968. It follows two secret agents, played by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, who work for a secret international espionage and law-enforcement agency called U.N.C.L.E.

Originally, co-creator Sam Rolfe wanted to leave the meaning of U.N.C.L.E. ambiguous so it could refer to Uncle Sam or the United Nations. Concerns by the MGM Studios legal department about using U.N. for commercial purposes resulted in the producers' clarification that U.N.C.L.E. was an acronym for the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.

Each episode had an acknowledgement to the U.N.C.L.E. on the end titles.

Though the show was craftily brilliant, Robert Vaughn (who is actually on this week’s Law & Order: SUV) and David McCallum (now on the fabulously successful NCIS on CBS) brought it home as they slyly conveyed a devil-may-care atmosphere while getting the job done.

The eminently weathered Leo G. Carroll played their boss, Mr. Waverly, who is essayed by Hugh Grant in the forthcoming movie.

The scripts were very definitely all in the tongue in cheek manner, but just so much fun. One script, in addition to the leads featured a young William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, (1964’s episode, The Project Strigas Affair) two years before they both hit in big in Star Trek.

Additional stars included: Barbara Feldon, Robert Culp, Ricardo Montalban, Sonny and Cher, Joan Collins, Leslie Nielsen, Fritz Weaver and Nancy Sinatra.

I'm not exactly clear on why the series is not shown to this day. Dated for sure, but sheer joy. The movie’s out in August … I cannot wait!

CLOSING NOTES --- When Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) was announced last week as the probable choice to star in the re-boot of the Indiana Jones-series on the silver screen, the Internet almost blew out; mostly with negative feedback. Why? I think he’s a great and logical choice; especially if Steven Spielberg directs it. Great idea if you ask me …

Saw Colin Firth in Kingsman (The Secret Service) this weekend and adored it. Definitely tongue-in-cheek and directed with a flourish by Matthew Vaughn, it’s not for everyone. Firth is fun! …

Look for Monkee-Micky Dolenz to appear at 54 Below in July.