Thursday, February 5, 2009

Super Academy Awards Bowl? I'm In!

Discuss: Make the Academy Awards More Like the Super Bowl

Filed under: AwardsFandom

Oscars 2009Every year, it's the same old story: the Academy Awards are out of touch with "the people." The Academy Awards TV show must be changed. The ratings are down! The sky is falling! Every year, the Academy swears this year will be different: the broadcast will be less than seven hours, it'll be relevant, it won't be boring. Every year they fail.

The New York Times on Sunday reported that host Hugh Jackman will "sign off the broadcast with fresh 10-second snippets of two dozen new movies, to run on a split screen with the end credits." To which I say: Academy, are you really that insanely stupid? Or do you really think we, the audience, are that stupid?

I have great respect for the craftspeople working behind the scenes, but nobody stays to watch the bloody end credits! By that point, it's always way past midnight on the East Coast, and people have gone to bed because, you know, the rest of us have to get up in the morning and go to work. Who cares about 10-second snippets? That's insulting.

Monika wrote this afternoon about more unindentified "risks" that the show will be taking, with "big surprises" in store for "cinematographers, editors, composers." (Notice, no "actors" mentioned there.) Well, if the Academy really wants to be 'risky" and change things up, all they need to do is cast a look at the most-watched TV broadcast of the year: the Super Bowl. Year after year, the Super Bowl attracts viewers who never watch football, people who don't even know who's playing, and wouldn't know an Arizona Cardinal from a Pittsburgh Steeler if they encountered one in full uniform at the local supermarket. How do they do it?

1. Embrace the length. Why not do a one-hour pre-show presenting the documentary and short subject winners? I know, equal footing, etc., but this way you could show the short subject winners in their entirety and a good 15-minute chunk of the documentary feature winner. That could do more to reach a targeted audience than any 45-second acceptance speech.

2. Let the nominees introduce themselves. Forget the celeb presenters. If you really want to honor the 'below the line' talent, tape the film editors and costume designers introducing themselves in advance, just like NBC does with their NFL game broadcasts. They get their moment of worldwide glory, they say their name and their hometown, and when they win, we see their smiling face(s).

3Reduce the acceptance speeches to 10 seconds. Sorry, too many are too long and boring. No one outside the industry cares about your agent and manager. If you want to appeal to people beyond the industry -- like, the rest of the world -- follow the examples of Super Bowl MVPs to time immemorial: say thank you, thank your family, your coach (director), your teammates in toto (cast and crew members), and the fans -- you know, the people who make your career possible.

4Add a halftime show with film critics. After hour one of the broadcast, let A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis of the New York Times (or other high-caliber critics) analyze the winners and explain why they deserved to win -- or alternatively, why they were surprised that they won. They could use film clips to explain their reasoning. Then they could analyze and predict the winners in the remaining part of the broadcast. Then they could introduce Bruce Springsteen and let him and the E Street Band play for 15 minutes. It worked for the Super Bowl -- why not the Academy Awards?

What are your ideas for changing the Academy Awards TV broadcast? Get as radical as you like -- we all know the show is badly in need of far-reaching changes, not just keeping the presenters secret and letting Hugh Jackman sing and dance.

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