Is TV an Oscars training ground?

The link is stronger than most people think

Tell a friend that television does more for the Oscars than just beam them to the world.

Your favorite living room appliance also is a finishing school, with many a future Academy Award contender prepping in a TV series before graduating to the big screen.

Classic case in point: Sally Field. Ridiculed as the star of "The Flying Nun" and "Gidget," she eventually took home an Oscar for her title-role performance in 1979's "Norma Rae." No wonder she told reporters afterward, "I do feel like the Academy is slacking off in the class quotient. After all, I won."

Field's bubbly "You like me!" speech later became the signature event of the 1985 ceremony, where she won a second best actress Oscar for "Places in the Heart."

"This is the night Gidget got respect," a TV commentator said.

Now that you're acclimated, here's Uncle Barky's silly-boy quiz on some of television's other links to Hollywood's show of shows:

1. Best actor nominees Denzel Washington ("Training Day") and Will Smith ("Ali") respectively starred in the long-running series "St. Elsewhere" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" before upgrading to the big screen. But best actress hopeful Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball") has a lesser known TV past. What is it?

A. She played aspiring pop singer Ginger Snap in The WB's "Dough-Re-Me."

B. She was teen model wannabe Emily Franklin in ABC's "Living Dolls."

C. She played Kim Fields' rebellious younger sister Coco Carlin in NBC's "We Are Family."

D. She was apprentice firefighter Joan Arc in CBS' "Burn Center."

2. What TV star turned Oscar host opened a show by saying, "I see a lot of new faces � especially on the old faces."

A. Johnny Carson

B. Billy Crystal

C. David Letterman

D. Chevy Chase

3. Which of this year's best supporting actress nominees also had a supporting role as a "chatterbox" college student in the first season of NBC's "A Different World"?

A. Kate Winslet

B. Jennifer Connolly

C. Marisa Tomei

D. Maggie Smith

4. Host Whoopi Goldberg teamed with what multiple Emmy-winner in the short-lived 1990 sitcom "Bagdad Cafe"?

A. Ed Asner

B. Jean Stapleton

C. Dick Van Dyke

D. Tori Spelling

5. Everyone knows that best director nominee Ron Howard ("A Beautiful Mind") played Andy Griffith's son, Opie, on TV. But what Oscar winner's kid did he play in the subsequent comedy series "The Smith Family"?

A. George C. Scott

B. Henry Fonda

C. Walter Brennan

D. Cliff Robertson

6. Jennifer Lopez, one of Sunday's Oscar presenters, has a surprisingly varied TV series r�sum�. What didn't she do?

A. Gyrate as a "fly girl" on Fox's "In Living Color"

B. Toil as a bartender on CBS' "Hotel Malibu"

C. Strike poses on Fox's "Models, Inc."

D. Work at a grocery co-op on Fox's "South Central"

7. Multiple Oscar host Johnny Carson made a memorable debut in 1979 by repeatedly lampooning a victorious sounds-effects-editing winner who wasn't in attendance to claim his trophy. "It always happens," Carson lamented. "First George C. Scott doesn't show, then Marlon Brando and now � " And now who?

A. Kim Tazurinsky

B. Sig Mund

C. Alan Splet

D. Irv Kupcinet

8. Which of this year's best actress nominees has yet to host "Saturday Night Live"?

A. Sissy Spacek

B. Judi Dench

C. Nicole Kidman

D. Renee Zellweger

9. Which of these best supporting actor nominees hosted "SNL" for the first time recently?

A. Jon Voight

B. Ben Kingsley

C. Ian McKellen

D. Ethan Hawke

10. And while we're on this "SNL" jag, which former member of the regular cast has never received an Oscar nomination for acting?

A. Randy Quaid

B. Robert Downey Jr.

C. Dan Aykroyd

D. Eddie Murphy

11. In her inaugural 1994 hosting stint, Goldberg lobbed a crude joke at Bob Dole. Who did she pair him with?

A. Heidi Fleiss

B. Lorena Bobbitt

C. Amy Fisher

D. Tonya Harding

12. Best director nominee David Lynch ("Mulholland Drive") had a future Hollywood hottie under his wing in the second season of "Twin Peaks." Who played lithe Annie Blackburne?

A. Cameron Diaz

B. Reese Witherspoon

C. Kate Hudson

D. Heather Graham

Answers

1. B; 2. A; 3. C; 4. B; 5. B; 6. C; 7. C; 8. B; 9. C; 10. D; 11.B; 12. D.

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