Feb. 26th, 2013

cinema_babe: (movie reel)
(Or What Do You Do with a Problem Like Golden Oscar?)

What is This Ritual Called the Academy Awards?
The Oscar’s are by definition, the day when the old(ish) guard of Hollywood relives their golden past and New(er) Hollywood plays dress up and pretends it’s 1934 all over again. If The Golden Globes are like a slightly boozy wedding reception, The Oscars are like Christmas at Grandma’s house. It’s a time to look through the family album, talk about those who has passed and what things were like in the good old days. You dress a little nicer and behave a little better. I’m not saying it has to be stodgy and boring but it *is* a more formal affair.

As with any regularly schedule happening, there are certain hoary, old tropes: The Best Picture is always more artistic than blockbuster, the Best Actor and Actress are rewarded for being arty as opposed to popular (look at Daniel Day-Lewis’ string of wins and Charlize Theron and Jane Wyman both tamping down their looks for their Oscar winning roles ). Best Supporting Actor is often used to pay tribute to an actor who should have won an Oscar who has had a long career (Alan Arkin and Christopher Plummer) and Best Supporting Actress is usually reserved for women who are the “Hot Tomato” of the moment but will probably never go much farther in their career (I mean really, how the hell does Mira Sorvino get an Oscar when her father doesn’t have one??!!)

The Oscar Parallax (or How Do You Solve a Problem Like Golden Oscar?)
The Oscars appeals to an older demographic and this drives the ABC crazy. The older the demographic, the less they tend to spend and they less they can charge advertisers. To address this, the past couple of years they have tried to make things young and hip by getting young edgy hosts. This is a bad move because few young people are going to watch the show and older people will be very turned off. So what’s a network to do?

Make better use of the Internet.

I went to the Academy Award's site and it was not easy to navigate, only had videos and no live feed and the commentators were *very* young and inexperienced. It was an anemic effort at best and I turned over to the TV pretty quickly. So here’s how they could have done a much better job last night.

1. First simulcast the show, the Superbowl does it, why not the Oscars? Here’s a big advantage to them doing it: they can run different ads online that are more suited to that audience. One event, twice the ad revenue; sounds like a win/win for everyone.

2. Another fun thing they could have done is to have people twitter in their guess for who will win the big 6 awards in the commercial break before a particular award is presented and choose one Tweeter who got it right to give them movie tickets for a year. This could be done for less than $9500 dollars which they could more than make up for with the on-line ad revenue.

3. Part of what weighed the host Seth MacFarlane down was that he was carefully trying to walk the line between the kind of edgy, Family Guy, clutch-your-pearls humor (that is natural for him) and being nice enough to not offend the people in the audience though. The closest he came was the rape joke when Ted the Bear and Mark Whalberg were on stage (intentional or not, you be the judge). MacFarlane would have been a perfect as a “shadow host” for an online audience, he could have been (almost) as offensive as he normally is.

4. For the TV broadcast, get someone like Billy Crystal or Jay Leno to be the host, cut the presenter jokes and chit chat, and have them come out, read the nominees and announce the winner. Use the extra time to to do a proper tribute to the theme of the evening. I like Stark Trek too but the Shatner thing was too long, too weak and mediocre.

Breaking out the Family Album
You're celebrating the movie musical and the best you can do is Chicago, Dreamgirls and Le Miz? What The Fuckitty Fuck People?? If you are doing a tribute to the movie musical, I would have begun with a 5 minute tribute similar to this:

(and yes people, I can name just about every one of these movies. I am that good).

How many people know that the Jazz Singer, considered to be the first talkie, was a musical (actually the only sound was the songs). How can you pay tribute to movie musicals and not include Busby Berkeley, 42nd Street (which was a movie long before it came to the stage), Fred and Ginger, Jeannette McDonald and Nelson Eddie, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, Hope and Crosby, Gene Kelly and Whomever? Shirley--Temple and Jones for god's sake! Julie Motherfucking Andrews!

What about all of the actors who were *not* singers but sang in movies early in their career like Jimmy Stewart, Joan Crawford, (back in the say, every studio required their acting talent were given lessons in singing, dancing, and diction) Jeff Conway and Renee Zellwenger(sp). What about the classics like Oklahoma, Showboat, The Sound of Music, Funny Girl; (FFS, they had Barbra Streisand right there) Singing in the Rain (considered by many film critics and historians to be the best movie musical ever made and I agree with them). I would have had video of snippets of interviews with people who appeared in notable musicals.

Finally, I would have cut all of Seth MacFarlane's songs except the duet with Kristen Chenoweth and moved that one to the top of the show. At the top of the evening it's a light, Sinatra cover about what's going to happen over the course of the evening. At the end of the night it felt a bit like a thumb in the eye.

Yes, I’m going to say it, I could have done a better job. A much better job. Maybe I missed my calling. (Nah, I didn’t)

Did They Do *Anything* Right This Year?
Well, who knew Charlize Theron could dance? *That* was an unexpected little bon mot. And um, um...Who knew that Russell Crowe can’t really sing (even if he could sing, he was all wrong for the role of Javert but that’s a different post for a different day). Jack Nicholson, who I tend to find hit or miss at these award shows, seemed to be on his best behavior. Smirking, leering, drunk or stoned jack stayed home this year. I assume this was because he knew he’d be sharing the stage with the First Lady. I wouldn’t have her pop up every year but I did think Mrs Obama brought a nice touch to the evening and that whole presentation was handled nicely.

Well, that's it. Seth MacFarlane is a one and done host, I can't wait to see who they dig up next year.

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