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Monday, February 23, 2009

Five Ways To Speed Up the Oscars

Got a chance to watch the 81st Annual Academy Awards last night and I must say that everything ran pretty smoothly and actually quickly for the most part. The first noticeable gaffe was a stage hand pulling the curtain in the wrong direction as the Best Supporting Actress montage played. Hugh Jackman infused a lot of energy into the telecast and he did play it pretty safe avoiding a lot of hot button jokes that someone like Whoopi Goldberg or Billy Crystal would have relished in making. He didn’t make a lot of jokes but held the broadcast together.

However, the old running gag about the length of the Oscars isn’t just a joke. These things go on way too long. Call it a product of an ADD addled audience in today’s society but they could have trimmed a good deal of time off the broadcast. As a long time Oscar watcher, here are some suggestions.
  1. Either get rid of the “In Memoriam” tribute or include everyone who died.
    For those of us not watching a 60” HD television set, we missed half of the tributes because they chose to pan around the theater instead of having the entire clip be seen up close. So, there were a few I missed.

    Now, I understand you cannot include a tribute to every single person who passed away in the last year but if you just show the cool kids that died, then you are doing a disservice to the rest of the people that passed. Last year, one omission was Brad Renfro. The Academy’s official response was, "Unfortunately we cannot include everyone. Our goal is to honor individuals who worked in the many professions and trades of the motion picture industry, not just actors." If that’s the case, then kill (no pun intended) the segment altogether.

    There was no mention of the following people and it wasn’t because they didn’t have the prep time.
    Robert Prosky – Great character actor. One of those “Hey, it’s that guy!” kind of actors.
    George Carlin – True he was more of a comedian and better known for his television roles, but still, his death had a profound effect.
    Jerry Reed – The Snowman?!?!? Come on. Ok, so he wasn’t a huge actor but still memorable.
    Harvey Korman – This is a tremendous oversight. Harvey was a hell of a character actor and a brilliant funny man. If you can remember Vampira, you can remember Count de Monet and Hedley LaMarr.
    Don LaFontaine – While not technically an actor, without him you wouldn’t get half the viewership of the movies up for Academy Awards. This falls into that whole “many trades and professions” category.

    If you want to honor the big names like Paul Newman or Paul Scofield then take 10 seconds off the commercial broadcast and do a small tribute. Then at the normal time for the “In Memoriam” montage can run quicker and have a more completed list.

  2. Go back to the old format of having the previous winner of the opposite gender present the acting awards.
    It was a little too “Vagina Monologues” for my taste and not everyone gets the love if one actor/actress sits there and gushes for five minutes on their selected nominee. Go back to the old format and give us a clip of the damn movie that these people did so well in that they deserved to get nominated. Perhaps a conspiracy is abound on why certain actors won over others….and better yet, why some weren’t nominated at all.

  3. Kill the production numbers for “Best Song” or speed them up.
    Granted, we only had three nominations this year and WTF is up with that? Why was there only three and two of them were from Slumdog Millionaire? From what I’ve heard Bruce Springsteen was really snubbed in this category. Where was I? Oh yeah. The production numbers were a bit quicker than they had been but I think they still don’t add nearly enough value to be in the broadcast. If they want to showcase Best Song, find a way to fill time at commercial breaks or another spot and play them.

  4. Hold applause.
    When you’re up there rattling off a bunch of nominees, some get an inordinate amount of applause. Why not hold all the applause until after the nominees are read. This gives enough time to actually hear the names and if there is an accompanying clip, hear the clip. It’s also polite.

  5. Put the nominees closer to the stage.
    Yeah, so, Slumdog Millionaire was the big winner of the awards but we all had to wait an extra five minutes for the evening news because the entire population of Mumbai had to come up on stage from the back of the theater. I’m all for giving credit where credit is due, but put all the nominees or those who would be accepting for a nominee up in the front rows. I didn’t see Jack Nicholson, front and center, holding court, as usual, although an unwarranted spread eagle crotch shot of Sean Penn was held on far too long for my taste.

Final thoughts:
Best Line of the Night: “You look like you work at a Hasidic Meth Lab” Natalie Portman talking about Ben Stiller’s appearance in the vein of Joaquin Phoenix
Worst Line of the Night: Anything that came out of Bill Maher’s mouth.. although, “Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto” said by Kunio Kato after winning for La Maison En Petits Cubes runs a close second.

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