Call it 20 feet from the 50-yard line. In a coup for the Radius/TWC’s Oscar campaign for the shortlisted documentary finalist Twenty Feet From Stardom, which chronicles the lives and career of a group of veteran rock-era background singers, four of them — Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Judith Hill and Lisa Fischer — performed the National Anthem at the 100th Rose Bowl game today in Pasadena.
An estimated 17 million were expected to watch the sold-out game where #4 Michigan State beat #5 Stanford 24-20. The figure that studio executives behind the film were probably most hoping for was much smaller: 6,028. That’s the number of Academy voters who will be eligible to vote for Best Documentary Feature should this moving and high-stepping pic from director Morgan Neville make the final five when nominations are announced on January 16. If a good number of those voters happened to be watching the game that certainly can’t hurt the critically acclaimed film’s chances.
With nearly a $5 million gross it is also the top moneymaking doc of the year. Incidentally the same four singers will be performing some of the big hits they recorded at the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Celebration Of Black Cinema at the House Of Blues in Los Angeles on January 7th. But today it was football. The four powerhouse performers, not used to having the spotlight all to themselves (see the film for details), each took turns belting out stanzas of a flawless and soulful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”.