So, the nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards have been announced, and I'm a bit intrigued. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are slated to share hosting duties, and the Academy will get to find out that their idea of 10 Best Picture nominations is redundant, anti-elitist, and will have none of the desired effect that the Academy hopes it has (drawing in more casual viewers).
Seriously, how did they come to the conclusion that adding five more films a "casual viewer" is supposed to care about is going to make more "casual viewers" tune in? And, keep in mind, this is after they came to the conclusion that the Oscars telecast is "too long" (a notion that I disagree with, but whatever).
And, with all apologies to Kathryn Bigelow (who is my favorite female director of all time), I am wholly opposing The Hurt Locker's run at Best Picture. I just can't support that film. I don't care if it wins any of the other awards it's been nominated for (Actor in a Leading Role, Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Original Screenplay) ... but I'm hoping beyond all hope that it doesn't win Best Picture. It is a dishonest film and unworthy of the honor.
Anyway... on to the issue at hand: the lengthy telecast.
The solution, if the Academy truly is concerned with the television audience, is simple. In fact, it's already in place. You know how all of those other channels air their "red carpet" specials that lead up to the actual Oscars, essentially making everyone watch bad hosts ask stupid questions on E! or TV Guide channel, right before you switch to ABC to watch the actual show?
Well, yeah... that.
As much as I'm loathe to admit it, there are - quite simply - categories of Oscars that the general public simply doesn't care about. As in, really: who the Hell cares? Now, I care, and I like watching all of the categories... I even like catching the sci-tech Oscars. The again, I only watch one awards show per year, and the Oscars is it.
Sorry... back on track.
Oscar categories that the general public simply doesn't care about. Air those on another cable channel leading up to the "Oscar categories that the general public DOES care about." Give us pre-Oscar counter-programming to those banal red carpet shows. Give your viewership OPTIONS. Let's face it, options always help.
If the Academy really does want to control telecast length, this is the way to do it. Move the two documentary awards to this lead-up show on Bravo network. Move the two short film awards over. And move the two sound and one visual effects award (I REALLY hate that notion, but whatever works).
Seriously, that's really the only way it's going to work. Of course, it's a bit un-Politically Correct as far as Hollywood is concerned, but come on. The irony here is that with the additional telecast time inherent to having what is essentially two shows, the Academy would be more inclined to add new awards (such as Best Stunts), and it would become even feasible to have an entire Oscars dedicated to documentary and short film (can you imagine a Best Director or Best Cinematography award JUST for documentaries? That would rock!)
Simply put, though the Academy Awards are designed as self-serving elitist awards (and I seriously don't mean that in a negative fashion), the producers of the Oscar telecast feel the need to tailor to the viewing audience. The problem is... finding a middle ground simply for broadcast purposes is going to be far more difficult than even the imagination factory of Hollywood can handle. Pick a target (either the industry or the public), and fit your show to that. Just do it; then quit complaining about it.
Personally, I like the Oscars show as it's been for the past 20 years, but that's me.
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