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Trump Jokes, LGBT Issues Take Center Stage at Oscar Wilde Awards

Variety logo Variety 2/24/2017 Will Thorne
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The whiskey and Trump jabs were flowing freely at the Bad Robot offices on Thursday night.

Stars from the worlds of “Star Trek” and “Loving,” music, and comedy gathered at the sprawling headquarters of J.J. Abrams’ production company for the 12th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards. The U.S.-Ireland Alliance event, founded by Trina Vargo, was designed to honor Irish talent in entertainment.

The vast Bad Robot space was bathed in shamrock green, with a podium installed in one corner on the roof next to an open bar (perhaps appropriately for an Irish-centered event, as honoree Martin Short pointed out). Abrams served as emcee for the night, and after jokingly asking why on earth he had been asked back to host the event, he listed the honorees: Short, Glen Hansard, Caitriona Balfe, Ruth Negga, and Zachary Quinto.

As Quinto had previously told Variety, his connection with Oscar Wilde runs far deeper than shared Irish roots, and the “Star Trek” actor once again reiterated his feeling of that connection, before relating Wilde’s persecution for his sexuality with President Donald Trump’s recent decision to rescind rules that allowed  transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

“My journey as an openly gay man in Hollywood has been in many ways inspired by his inability to back down from who he was, and celebrating the world and the way he saw it and what made him different,” Quinto said. “And I feel like as far as we’ve come in the last 120 years, there are protests going on tonight about the reversal of protections for children in the country, and I believe it is all of our responsibilities to stand up and be authentic and be visible, and Oscar Wilde is someone who taught me that.”

Quinto was by no means the only honoree to reference the current presidential regime, as Hansard led the assembled company in an impromptu and stirring rendition of the Woody Guthrie song “This Land Is Your Land,” placing particular emphasis on the lines, “ The sign was painted, said ‘Private Property.’ But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing. This land was made for you and me,” in reference to the current immigration predicament.

Unsurprisingly, Short took a far more light-hearted approach to political satire on the night.

“My speech will be very brief, I left my Uber driver waiting, and you know how testy General Mike Flynn can get,” Short quipped to hoots of laughter and applause from the crowd. Short also thanked comedic actress Catherine O’Hara for introducing him, before complimenting her on her jacket and dress, which he offered was “the last outfit sold from the Ivanka Trump catalogue.”

Other attendees included “Star Trek” cast members Chris Pine and John Cho, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Sarah Paulson.

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