Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscar showing his age...

Despite the touted improvements in the ceremony this year to improve ratings, if THIS was the promised facelift for Oscar we heard people talking about prior to the ceremony, maybe it's time to find a new surgeon!
Antiquated Oscar
I found that watching Twitter was far more entertaining than watching the ceremony alone, including a running humorous commentary from many in the Twitterverse...like this choice oft-repeated comment at the end from Tina Dupuy: "The Academy Awards should not hand out Oscars for editing until they learn how to edit the Academy Awards."

I discovered this nice sampling of Oscar-related tweets, after being alerted to one of my own being included in the list.

And if you looked closely at the continuously updating tweet stream with the #oscars tag, you may have even discovered live comments from bonafide celebrities...like Jane Fonda: "It IS moving to see sandra win. And she made a great speech. I am weeping #oscars" or "I love jeff honoring his parents. I have felt that way when I won. #oscars".

But when it comes to the actual production, it's obviously time for far more than a facelift. Maybe a complete reincarnation is in order.

First, it was a mistake to eliminate the performances of "Best Original Song" and instead include breakdancing to the "Avatar" theme (I kid you not, if you missed it). Although I know "Dancing with the Stars" is hot, so maybe people think these big dance production numbers on the small screen still entertain (no, they really don't), it is far more entertaining to see the original artists perform the best songs.

As for the big dance numbers, back in the 1960's and early 1970's, people were regularly entertained by an endless array of such dance productions on their tiny television sets. But that just doesn't work anymore in 2010. Unless you are actually sitting in the theater, all those feathery costumes lose a great deal in translation.

Maybe it's time for Oscar to give social media a try - perhaps include live polls (like "who is wearing the best dress") or display the most entertaining live Oscar-related tweets on-screen during the broadcast, kind of like CNN and the other news networks, even from certified celebrities watching from home.

Now THAT would increase ratings! I laughed far more at the Twitterverse last night than most of the lame pre-canned jokes of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. A few struck gold, but not very many. And where was the spontaneity? The best hosts of all are the ones who do it on the fly (or manage to make it SEEM like they're doing it on the fly). Faking on the fly falls flat very fast.

And what was going on with the production itself? Did anyone else notice all the little "glitches"? The missed cues? The awkward pauses? The odd way the John Hughes presentation ended (with apparent disarray and chatter being caught by the mics)? And the more-than-usual confusion at times getting award-winners on stage?

I know they cut the time limit on the acceptance speeches this year, and apparently Tom Hanks felt pressed for time (an understatement), but it's the speeches that actually carry the unpredictability which have added spice to Oscars past. Unpredictability isn't sanctioned much these days. And the joke segment at the beginning was FAR too long, excruciatingly awkward, and not in a good way.

I personally think it's time for something completely new, some truly adventurous, out of the box innovation. Think "Avatar". A paradigm shift. Yes, the Oscars are a tradition, no doubt about it, but it's 2010. We don't need to keep pretending it's 1950 for nostalgia's sake. Recast the nostalgia in an ENTERTAINING way, and add some high-tech, up-to-date flair to the broadcast. The more I think about it, the Twitter feed is not such a bad idea!

And focus on the MOVIES themselves, not poorly written jokes and obtuse production numbers. Maybe even find a way to make the whole thing SHORTER, but BETTER, without sacrificing the parts that matter most.

Don't get me wrong. As a long-time movie buff, I LOVE the Oscars. But Oscar is ready to be reborn.

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