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Smackdown '72: Meet the Panelists!

Our summer series "Supporting Actress Smackdown" returns on Sunday April 28th with a deep dive into the 1972 Oscar lineup:

• Jeannie Berlin, The Heartbreak Kid
• Eileen Heckart, Butterflies Are Free
• Geraldine Page, Pete N' Tillie
• Susan Tyrrell, Fat City
• Shelley Winters, The Poseidon Adventure

That's just two weeks away! So make sure to get your votes in (1 to 5 hearts for each of those performances that you've seen) since readers are the final collective panelist.

Want to meet the other panelists? Yeah, you do! 


Donna Lynne Champlin is an OBIE, Drama Desk and Gracie Award winning actress. 
Having worked extensively on stage, in television and film, she is most well-known for playing Carol Burnett in the autobiographical Hollywood Arms and “Pirelli” in the musician-actor revival of Sweeney Todd on Broadway and “Paula Proctor” on The CW’s Emmy award winning Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. You can follow here on Twitter and Instagram.

What does 1972 mean to you, Donna?

Well, before I watched these movies for the Smackdown I had a very nostalgic idea of 1972: The Wonderful World of Disney, Apollo 17, hippies and Bob Fosse’s heyday. But holy Christ, after watching these movies? Good God, the sexism. And the racism. I mean, maybe these movies were “woke” by trying to hit us in the face with things society was actively trying to change back then? But, damn.


Kathy Deitch is an actress and activist. Broadway: Urleen in Footloose, Shen Shen in Wicked, Hair at City Center Encores & European Tour (Crissy). LA: Rent at the Hollywood Bowl, Catherine/Senator Martin in Silence! The Musical (LA Weekly Award). TV: Better Things, American Horror Story: Freak Show (Young Ethel Darling), Raising Hope, The Thundermans, Hollywood Darlings. Film: Loft, opposite Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet; Magic Mike XXL. A proud Fat Activist, Kathy co-hosts PlusThis! Show, which showcases plus size and body-positive women in TV, film, media, fashion and around the world and is a member of FATCH, an all girl, fat sketch comedy group.  She also teaches private voice & musical theatre audition technique to students young and old. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram

What does 1972 mean to you, Kathy?

In 1972, a fourth anniversary party for the musical Hair was thrown at the Delacourte in Central Park in New York City which ended with 13 Black Panthers being arrested as well as the show's writer Jim Rado, who directed me in HAIR when I did the European Tour, right out of college. All this while the Watergate break-in was being botched in DC.... 



Arun is a playwright, actor and director. His work touches on various forms including immersive performance, devised theatre and live art with a focus on the intersections of gender, sexuality, queerness and class in Sri Lanka. He currently resides in Colombo, flitting between his work in theatre, film production and obsessive list-making. All this and copious selfies can be seen on his instagram at @Arun.Indika

What does 1972 mean to you, Arun?

There's few albums that I treasured more as a teenager than David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. I can seldom listen to it anymore because its 11 tracks are so tied to a particular context and feeling for me. That album and Bowie, in general, really soundtrack those moments when I was first trying to carve out an identity for myself and found that music and film could be how I defined myself from (and to) my peers.


and you know us from right here at the The Film Experience...


Eric is a TV writer and director.  He has written and directed material for TBS, Lifetime, E!, truTV, Spike, Syfy, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Funny or Die, as well as some commercials and branded content.  He worked forever at Comedy Central, where he interviewed and directed Hollywood talent for exclusive content.  He's particularly proud of shooting Ryan Gosling against the Mediterranean Sea, coercing Seth Rogen and James Franco to make out, and getting lost in Alexander Skarsgard's bellybutton hairs during a sound snafu.  

What does 1972 mean to you, Eric?

It's rare when I get to say I'm too young for something nowadays, but 1972 itself I was indeed to young to have a memory of.  But when I think about the early 70s, I think about growing up in Pittsburgh when we used to get FEET of snow every winter.  I hate winter and the cold, but I love snow, and I when I see photos of my siblings and me standing in holes of three-feet-deep snow, I get sad sometimes that we don't get that anymore.  Big snowfalls were always a good excuse to hole up and watch movies when I was young, and that's always a good thing.

and your host 

Nathaniel is the creator and owner of The Film Experience. He is a member of the BFCA and GALECA (Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Journalists Association). He is the film columnist for Towleroad, a longtime Oscar pundit (Gurus of Gold), and his writing has appeared in both online publications (Vanity Fair, Show-Score, Slate, and Tribeca Film) and print magazines (Esquire and Winq). Nathaniel has served on international festival juries and appeared as an on-air Oscar pundit for CNNi. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

What does 1972 mean to you, Nathaniel?

It will forever and always mean Cabaret to me. I was obsessed with this movie from before I even saw it because my mother, who loves musicals, didn't want us to watch it. Forbidden fruit, you know! 


If you're just joining us, the Smackdowns is a retrospective series looking back on past Oscar lineups in the Supporting Actress category. Some previous episodes to check out to get a taste for it include19541968197019731995, and 2017 

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Reader Comments (27)

I voted such a long time ago. Will it still be counted? Just in case, I sent my choices in once again. This is a very weak lineup, maybe the weakest ever. I can't give anyone more than 3 Hearts. My own choices would be:
1. Madeline Kahn - What's Up, Doc?
2. Nell Potts and 3. Roberta Wallach - The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds
4. Cybill Shepherd - The Heartbreak Kid (Jeannie Berlin is just plain grotesque!)
5. Claire Bloom - Limelight (Well, she IS eligible)

Also better than any of the nominees: Monica Zetterlund - The Emigrants, Bulle Ogier - The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Karen Black - Portnoy's Complaint

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

I have a very soft spot for Shelley Winters in 'The Poseidon Adventure', even thouth I have to admit Susan Tyrell would make a worthier winner. (Although far and way, the Best Supporting Actress performance of 1972 is Irm Hermann as the ever-silent Marlene in The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant; if that is ineligible, I will second ken's choice of Madleine Kahn).

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

Donna Lynn!

I second Ken's question above - I voted when this was scheduled before, would you like a resubmit or do you still have those ballots tracked?

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.


April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

Dave and Ken -- i still have those ballots.

April 12, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I'm excited for this panel! Looking forward to this, I've missed the SAS

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPoliVamp

I was really excited when I saw Donna Lynn but Arun is the sexiest person I’ve ever seen!

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBushwick

God damn this is an exciting panel. Hopefully I should be able to get a ballot in once the semester ends but this'll be a treat to listen to either way, I'm sure.

@Bushwick - 100% correct.

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

What a line-up! Also, that photo of Shelley lolz

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

Ken is so right - Madeline Kahn in What's Up, Doc? is EVERYTHING. And that she did that in her feature debut - she was just pretty much peerless.

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Donna Lynne Champlin!!!!!!!!!

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPfan

I'd like to give a shout out to Ellen Burstyn in The King of Marvin Gardens & Stella Stevens in The Poseiden Adventure..

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I'm so glad this panel is going to happen! I've actually seen all 5 performances for once and '72 is . fun year to contemplate. Really looking forward to it.

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Ken: I love Jeannie in Heartbreak Kid, but I was SUPER impressed by Cybill. She really surprised me! Such a modern, unusual performance.

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Jeannie Berlin’s performance is one of my all time favourite nominations in this category.

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

It was a very strong year, with both the nominees and those who were left out! Madeline Kahn and Ellen Burstyn, my God!
But I have to mention Geraldine Page's Police Station scene in Pete'n'Tillie. It was superb. Geraldine Page was the American Maggie Smith.

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

A very good year and a great winner. And one of the few years most of the nominees were from comedies.

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Awesome panel! Look forward to their observations. And for all things 1972, you must put the spotlight on Madeline Kahn in What's Up, Doc?, one of the very best supporting turns ever. Oscar fumbled again.

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNewMoonSon

2nded, 3rded, whatever for Madeline Kahn in What's Up, Doc? Genius work in one of the funniest movies ever.

Please tell Donna Lynn that she should be a Multiple Emmy nominee for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend by now.

Go Poseidon!!!

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Whoever said 1972 was a weak year is out their mind. Jeannie Berlin & Susan Tyrell were brilliant (The Heartbreak Kid is one of my fave 70s comedies), Eileen Heckhart, Geraldine Page were swell, and Shelley Winters is, you know, Shelley Winters, for heaven sake. And yes, there were women like Ellen Burstyn, Madeline Kahn and others who were just as good but there can only be 5 nominees.

April 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

The Poseidon Adventure is among my all time favourites... so...

April 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

Donna Lynne Champlin (!!!)
The Film Experience grants magic wishes.

April 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenteradri

surely there’s enough write-in votes here to get madeline kahn on the ballot?!?

eunice burns 4eva!!!

April 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterpar

I don't have too much to say about the supporting actresses of 72 (well, except that Madeline Kahn in What's Up, Doc is a completely genius turn which I hope everyone agrees with) since I haven't seen any of the actual nominees but I'm amazed that Donna Lynne Champlin is part of this panel because her performance in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend brings me so much joy!!!

April 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJ Vo

The 5 women nominated were terrific. And this is when the category should have more than 5 nominations. Madeline Khan in Whats up doc? has to be one of the all time great comedic performances. . Whats up doc is one of my all time fave comedies.

April 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

Don't know where you are suppose to vote, so I'll just leave my list here:

Susan Tyrrell (4 Hearts): Funny and heartbreaking at the same time, Tyrrell was the epitome of maginalized, alcoholic women who tragically relied on male affection to define themselves.

Eileen Heckart (3 1/2 Hearts): Though the stage roots show, Heckart is able to transcend a theatrical performance (hampered with an implausible about-face) and make the turnaround less strident than it is, while maintaining the grist of her character.

Geraldine Page (3 Hearts): Because she is so talented, Page is able to turn this caricature of a woman committed to age defying amnesia into a comical penumbra almost worthy of Madelaine Khan's layered transparency in What's Up Doc. Stress on the word almost.

Jeannie Berlin (2 Hearts): Berlin has the comedic gravitas but unfortunately the movie tosses her away before she can materialize as a woman with any decisions worth championing. In fact she seems to have no agency at all. One should feel more anger for her situation, but I didn't care. Whether that is Berlin's fault or the writing is debatable.

Shelley Winters (2 Hearts): I actually really like Winters in the Poseidan Adventure, but this performance should never have been elevated to an Oscar nomination. There were other performances in 1972 that were inarguably better and much more worthy (Marisa Berinson-Cabaret, Diane Keaton-The Godfather, Talia Shire-The Godfather, Anna Massey-Frenzy, Liv Ullmnn-Harriet Andersson-Ingrid Thulin-Cries and Whispers, Nell Potts-The Effects of..., and of course Madelaine Khan-What's Up Doc?)

Anyway, that's my 2 cents.

April 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterIshmael

#1 by a mile: Susan Tyrrell.

April 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPete

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