Sunday 29 January 2012

Heartland Auntie threw pie in my face over Oscar predictions

With the announcement of the Academy Awards nominations last week, I’m reminded again – as I am every year – of how The New Paper on Sunday’s "Heartland Auntie" Maureen Koh once threw a pie in my face.

The Ground Zero columnist hates being called Heartland Auntie (who wouldn’t?), which is why we must all continue to call her Heartland Auntie.

The pie incident happened way back in 1994, long before Heartland Auntie became Heartland Auntie. She was only Heartland Lian then.

I was reviewing movies on a Channel 5 variety show called Live On 5, hosted by some guy named Gurmit Singh.

After that year’s Oscar nominations were announced, The New Paper decided to create some buzz by challenging me to predict the winners.

The TNP team, consisting of four entertainment reporters, would make their own predictions. One of the reporters was, of course, Heartland Lian.

If they correctly predicted more winners than I did, they would each get to throw a pie in my face.

(Why pies? I don't know. Maybe someone at TNP watched too many Bugs Bunny cartoons.)

If more of my predictions were correct, I would get to throw a pie on each of their faces.

Seems unfair, doesn’t it? Four against one.

How could they hope to beat me with only four people? It was so unfair to them.

But I accepted the challenge because it meant publicity for the show. I’m selfless that way.

That year, Schindler’s List won the Oscar for Best Picture, which everyone predicted.

The biggest surprise was then-11-year-old Anna Paquin (future X-Man and True Blood heroine) winning the Best Supporting Actress award for The Piano.

Both the TNP team and I wrongly predicted Winona Ryder (future shoplifter) would win the award for director Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence.

The TNP team also wrongly predicted that Daniel Day-Lewis would win the Best Actor award for In The Name Of The Father.

I, along with the rest of the world, correctly predicted Tom Hanks would win for Philadelphia.

But I wrongly predicted that Pete Postlewaite would win the Best Supporting Actor award for In The Name Of The Father.

The TNP team, along with the rest of the world, correctly predicted Tommy Lee Jones would win for The Fugitive.

So who won the Great Oscar Slugout of 1994 between the TNP team and me?

No one. It was a tie.

Did that mean all our faces would go un-pied?

That would be anti-climatic. So someone quickly made up the rule that in the event of a tie, everyone would get a pie in the face – in my case, four times.

Seems unfair, doesn’t it? Yes, it was.

So on Friday, March 24, 1994, at 1:30pm, I went toe to toe with my nemeses at the open space outside Raffles Place MRT station with cream pies sponsored by Boulevard Hotel. The emcee was Hamish Brown. (He had more hair then.)

I reflexively ducked to avoid the first pie. I had to force myself to stand passively as each of the four TNP reporters, including Heartland Lian, shoved a pie in my face. It felt creamy.

Then it was my turn.

Soon, pieces of pie were all over the five of us, not just our faces.

A female bystander came up to me and licked some pie from my ear – then left without a word. Wham bam, thank you, ma’am! Even today, I still have no idea who the woman was.

Three months later, I quit Live On 5 and the show was cancelled some months after that.

I didn’t see Heartland Lian again until 2008 when I joined TNP full-time. By then, Heartland Lian had become Heartland Auntie.

She insisted on becoming my Facebook friend just so she could share 14-year-old photos of her smashing a pie in my face.

So what are my predictions for this year’s Oscars?

I predict that between now and the Academy Awards ceremony on Feb 26, whenever I see Heartland Auntie, I will be thinking of cream pie.

- Published in The New Paper, 29 January 2012

Now sweetheart,

I am ok being called a heartland aunty what... hahahah... but me!? Lian?!? ahhh... can't you call me heartland sweetie instead?!

Maureen Koh