Sydney Morning Herald
Rochelle, Rochelle for the Oscar?
by Karl Quinn
Feb 27, 2022
Fans Are Taking Non-Existant Seinfeld Film Rochelle Rochelle As Top Oscar Pick
According to the Wikipedia page for the 94th Academy Awards, Rochelle, Rochelle was on Saturday night among the five frontrunners for the Oscar for fan favorite to be handed out for the first time during the televised ceremony next month. So the fans voted yes to the imaginary movie that never was1
The only problem is, Rochelle, Rochelle doesn’t exist. It is a purely fictitious film — a European art-house soft-porn movie about “a young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk” — from the 1990s sitcom Seinfeld.
One of Seinfeld’s most beloved running jokes is the fake film Rochelle, Rochelle—“a young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.” The joke reached its peak in the Season 6 finale (a spoof of the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding scandal) with a fictional Broadway adaptation starring Bette Midler. This being Seinfeld, Midler ends up in the hospital and Jerry’s current girlfriend, her understudy, gets the lead role. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get to see Midler rapid-fire, deadpan belt out the title song from her hospital bed—blue feathered bedjacket wrapped tight around her.
As for Art Vandelay, listed on the Oscars Wikipedia page as one of the film’s creators, that was just a pseudonym used by George Costanza (Jason Alexander) in his many failed attempts to make himself more appealing to women.
Of course, anyone can edit a Wikipedia page. And while its addition to the list was funny, harmless, and gone by Sunday morning it does point to a serious issue: the enormous risk the Academy and its US broadcast partner ABC is taking in its own publicly-driven bid to bolster audiences.
This screengrab from Saturday, February 26 shows Rochelle, Rochelle among the Fan Favourite frontrunners.
Votes for the Fan Favorite category can be cast online (at a dedicated website) or on Twitter. You can vote up to 20 times a day, so long as you’re aged 18 or over, live in the US, and do not have a criminal record. Other than that, knock yourself out.
On the surface, the category makes some sense. Last year’s COVID-affected Oscars telecast drew the lowest audience in history, just 9.85 million American viewers on the night (and 10.4 million with adjusted 7-day figures). That was down from 23.64 million a year earlier, which was itself a record low.
This year the slide into irrelevance threatens to continue, with 2021’s most successful film, Spider-Man: No Way Home ($US1.8 billion at the global box office), nominated in just one technical category. The combined box office of the 10 films competing for best picture, meanwhile, is just under $US600 million, two-thirds of it for Dune (though to be fair, four of them have reported no box office at all, as they were principally streaming releases).