Advertising copywriter John Wilson created the Golden Raspberry Awards to pay “tribute” to the worst films of the year. A former UCLA film school graduate and life-long movie fan, Wilson created the “Razzies” (as the Golden Raspberry Awards are also known) as an expression of his love for films. In fact, the Razzies grew out of one of his annual Oscar Night “pot luck” dinner parties for friends and family. At the 1980 dinner party, after the televised Academy Awards ceremony, Wilson threw his own “award” presentation ceremony where guests offered their selections for that year’s worst film, worst film actor, etc. (Note that the first Golden Raspberry Award was a piece of sculpted foam)
In 1981, on a lark, Wilson sent out a press release touting the Golden Raspberry Awards to several Southern California local newspapers. Word of mouth grew and, by 1984, major newswires began running stories about the Razzies. Also, 1984 was the first year that the ceremony dinner was held on the night before Oscar Night.
In 1987, the Golden Raspberry Award ceremony went “formal” and held its first dinner at the famed Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where the very first Academy Awards ceremony took place. By this time, the Razzies own ceremony had taken on its own look and feel, a “cheap seats” version of the Oscars with the emphasis on “low-end and tacky” (John Wilson’s description).
John Wilson said, “One of the ways you can tell a Razzie is that even if you’re seeing it on an airplane, you think about walking out.”
In 2005, The Golden Raspberry Awards reached its publicity pinnacle when one of its higher profile “nominees”, Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry, actually showed up at the ceremony to accept her Best Actress “award” for “Catwoman.” By then, the award itself had also been upgraded to a plastic raspberry sculpture spray-painted gold.
Actually, in 1988, comedian Bill Cosby was the first high-profile celebrity to accept his award “Leonard, Part 6”, but it was weeks later on Fox’s “Late Show.” In 2004, actor Ben Affleck was given his “Worst Actor” Razzie for “Gigli” on the Larry King Show. He went on to become the first recipient to break the award in pieces.
Other fairly high profile celebrities who have showed up at the ceremonies included “Showgirls” director Paul Verhoeven and “Freddy Got Fingered” actor/comic Tom Green. (Green had to be pulled offstage due to his endless onstage harmonica solo)
In 1999, screenwriter Joe Eszterhaz became a high profile no-show after running a full-page ad in Variety announcing that he would attend the ceremony to accept his Razzie for “An Alan Smithee Film: Burn, Hollywood, Burn!” in person — and didn’t.
Razzie Award categories have included traditional ones like Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Actress, and Worst Director as well as “special categories” like “worst screen couple”, “most flatulent teen target movie”, and “worst reckless disregard for human life and public property.”
For more information on The Golden Raspberry Awards and other so-bad-they’re-rotten films, see John Wilson’s book, “The Official Razzie Movie Guide.”
“Berry gets worst actress Razzie”, Helen Bushby, BBC, URL: (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/4301783.stm)
“Sharon Stone big winner (loser”, Arthur Spiegelman, TV Guide, URL: (http://www.tvguide.com/News-Views/Entertainment-News/Article/Default.aspx?idx=505905)
“Worst in Film”, Catherine Siepp, National Review, URL: (http://www.nationalreview.com/seipp/seipp200502250747.asp)
“Affleck refuses Razzie”, Stephen M. Silverman, People, URL: (http://www.people.com/people/article/0,26334,627868,00.html)