If you had a portal to the 1988 Oscars and the only thing you were allowed to do is troll celebrities, who would be most fascinating in retrospect? Probably Nicolas Cage, the now-deceased Patrick Swayze, and 14-year-old Angelina Jolie, who attended with her father Jon Voight. That's exactly what the guys in the video above did. It earned them a spot on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, but somehow the stunt hasn't stayed in America's cultural memory.
The first half of the video above shows the two film students, Jack Saltzberg and David Teitelbaum, trying to sneak a camera and microphone into the 60th Academy Awards ceremony without press passes. In the second half, they find themselves unexpectedly getting onto the red carpet by just blowing past a barrier. It's a tactic so brazen it would probably get you waterboarded today, but 1988 was a more innocent time.
A few years ago, a guy went on the local news circuit because he had snuck into the Oscars and sat through the show but his documentary Crasher never found an audience. Teitelbaum, the guy on camera, doesn't seem to have ascended to megastardom either, but I tracked him down to see what effect it had on his career, and just to find out what sneaking into the Oscars was like.
VICE: So, how'd you pull that stunt off?
David Teitelbaum: We were film students at the time, and had no intention of actually getting in. We just figured we'd make a funny video about a supposed entertainment reporter who thinks he's part of the inside circle but, in fact, has absolutely no credentials. We thought we were making a video about not getting into the Oscars. After trying various entrances and knocking on limousine windows, I finally figured that maybe, if I walked past a guard while in the middle of a stand-up, he might pause long enough for us to get in. Turns out, that's what happened.
Did anyone ever notice you?
Once we were in, nobody bothered us much. We stayed on the red carpet interviewing celebrities for hours.
Was there anything going on that the home viewer can't see?
Off-camera, there were the usual throngs of waiting fans and security. We actually interviewed many more that weren't included on the Tonight Show piece. We made a longer video that includes a bunch more celebrities.
Did you notice Angelina Jolie in your footage?
Nobody knew Angelina Jolie at the time. I think she was 14 or 15, and in the midst of her one awkward year. Years later, I watched the tape and realized it was her. Anyone who thinks she's had her lips done should watch the tape. They're her lips.
So what happened afterward?
I probably received a hundred calls from agents, studios, producers. Class flavor-of-the-month stuff. I signed with an agent and started doing shorts for the Movie Channel, using the personae I created for the Oscar piece—but now calling myself "Harvey Shine." I did those for three years. I got to go on David Letterman's show the next year. After that, I hosted a bunch of pilots and did some acting in a few films and a bunch of commercials. I also did stand-up comedy for a number of years. Eventually, I went back to what I originally went to film school for. I started writing for animated shows (including Phineas and Ferb) and am now a producer on Deadliest Catch.
And that's all thanks to the stunt?
The Oscars stunt certainly gave me a launching pad. I got to do things I probably never would have were it not for that. My only regret is that I'm not sure it's ever gotten full recognition for the influence it's had. I've had major film directors tell me that they went to film school after seeing our Tonight Show segment. We interviewed Howard Stern while we were on the red carpet—and only then did he start sending out "Stuttering John" Melendez to do celebrity interviews.
Do you think you made an impact?
I think if it had a ripple effect, it was that it helped bridge the gap between professional video and amateur video. I think people may have seen the piece and thought, I'm gonna do something like that, too. This was the era when high-quality home video was just starting. We weren't celebrities and we weren't connected. But, we made a video and got to be interviewed by Johnny Carson. I'm not sure that had happened before.
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