As a member of the Screen Actors Guild, would Russell Crowe vote for himself as best actor of 2001 for his magnificent performance in "A Beautiful Mind?"
We'll never know because the 8th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards vote is recorded on secret ballots, and despite their reputation for being rabidly narcissistic, even the world's biggest hams would be loathe to admit they voted for themselves.
If the aforementioned Crowe does not vote for himself this year he most likely will be in a tiny minority, because his performance as mathematics genius John Nash in "A Beautiful Mind" rates with the finest acting in movie history.
Two randomly selected panels totaling 4,200 SAG members from across the country chose this year's actor award nominees, which were announced earlier this week.
The wonder of the world is the vote did NOT result in 4,200 nominees in a tie with one vote apiece -- actors' egos being what they are.
If that had been the case, the final SAG ballet would have been the longest in movie awards history.
Fortunately, too, the final ballot for the SAG Awards does not allow for write-in votes.
Can one imagine the funk it would cause if all 98,000 SAG members voted for themselves to win this increasingly prestigious trophy?
Think how long the ceremony would take on March 10 when the winners are scheduled to line up awaiting the opening of the envelopes.
All 98,000 actors and actresses would end up in a one-vote tie, certainly a mob too enormous to fit into the Shrine Exposition Center.
Of necessity, the ceremonies would be moved to the nearby L.A. Coliseum where the Olympics were held. And try to visualize 98,000 giddy performers congratulating each other and getting bombed on 98,000 bottles of champagne.
The SAG awards in one fell swoop would have almost as many winners as the annual Emmy Awards, and woe betide any ham without at least one Emmy on his fireplace mantel.
The world is fortunate, however, that no write-in blank will be provided on the final ballots, which will be mailed to the membership Feb. 12 and must be returned by March 8 to be tallied by the K&H Integrity Voting System.
The most significant word there is INTEGRITY.
All the same, it is significant that the original 4,200 nominators limited their nominees to five in each category -- except female actor in a drama series, where there are six nominees -- and among them is Mr. Crowe for best actor in a motion picture in 2001.
That does not necessarily mean the SAG membership will vote him the award.
Even if Crowe does go on to win the trophy, it does not signify he is the year's best actor.
The SAG Awards are divided into two categories: best actor in movies and best actor in television movies.
Mind you, there actually are people -- actors included -- who think TV acting is every bit as good and/or better than motion picture acting.
Those who hold that thought are, of course, out of their minds.
If good or great film actors are paid $20 million for a performance, plus a percentage of the gross, and great TV actors are paid a measly $1 million at best, which actor would you guess is superior?
In a bottom-line business in a bottom-line town in a bottom-line country, the best are generally paid the most, which suggests that movie actors are superior to their brethren on the tube by a long shot.
But let us not cavil.
Timely tip: Bet the rent money on Crowe.
In contrast, the best TV performances nominated were Alan Alda ("Club Land"), Richard Dreyfuss ("The Day Reagan Was Shot"), James Franco ("James Dean"), Gregory Hines ("Bojangles"), Ben Kingsley ("Anne Frank").
Perhaps TV nominees might compare with movie actors here had Kingsley played the title role in "Anne Frank."
Timely tip: At least Kingsley won an Oscar for playing Gandhi in the movie "Gandhi," and Dreyfuss won an Oscar for "The Goodbye Girl" -- of course not playing the title role.
Alda won Emmys for "M*A*S*H," but then who didn't?
Nominated for best movie actress: Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball"), Jennifer Connelly ("A Beautiful Mind"), Judi Dench ("Iris"), Sissy Spacek ("In the Bedroom") and Renée Zellweger ("Bridget Jones's Diary").
Timely tip: Zellweger is a long-shot, but she merits some sort of courage award for allowing the camera to shoot her sliding down the firehouse pole, exposing a mammoth derriere that made women everywhere cringe.
Maybe the award should go to the body double who slid rump first into that lens.
It couldn't have been our girl Zellweger.