I love James Lipton. There I said it, the cat is out of the bag -- but I'm not the only one. Apparently he's how you really know if you've made it somewhere in Tinseltown. He may also be the golden ticket to your very own Oscar. Variety seems to think so. I have to say that they might be right on that one. James Lipton is quite the extraordinary guy. He just may be brilliant. The man is a writer, a poet, an actor, and the dean of a school that industry hopefuls claw their way into. It also bears the name of the show he's best known for Inside the Actors Studio.

I swear Inside the Actors Studio is to me as to what Howdy Doody was to kids in the fifties. I dress up as Jean Harlow and plop myself in front of the television with the Complete Works of Shakespeare lying heavily in my lap. If I still lived with my mother she would tell me to scoot back from the TV or else I'd go blind. But what will James Lipton ask Glenn Close that will make her blush? What moment in Clint Eastwood's life will he have no recollection of until Lipton reminds him that it happened? What is Olympia Dukakis' favorite curse word?! I just almost fainted. Now that I have recomposed myself I can honestly say that out of the 173 talents that he has interviewed there are only maybe five that I can make a snide remark about. That's pretty remarkable.

But back to Variety's predictions of him being an actor's key to the Academy Awards: Interestingly enough, in two recent episodes, Lipton interviews two currently buzzed-about actors, Forest Whitaker and Eddie Murphy. Both actors have remarkable roles this year in The Last King of Scotland and the soon to be released Dreamgirls, respectively. Whitaker definitely has my vote for Best Actor. Is their appearance on the show is just coincidence, or perhaps a richly calculated maneuver by their publicists?

If the world worked in accordance to what I wanted then Jeffrey Wright would be the next to be interviewed on Inside the Actors Studio. Then he would take home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Casino Royale. Anything he touches turns to gold. Sigh.

Well. Now the only thing we can do is wait until the Oscar nominations are announced to see just how much of a hold Lipton has on the Academy voters. Even if we're wrong, James Lipton, you still really have a hold on me -- and that's all that really matters.