Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Yoohoo, Hollywood!

This morning a friend of mine emailed me her thoughts about the damage done to personal relationships and lives in the light of the critique of certain political ideologies and asked if I had any brilliant insights. I told her, no, I had far more important business to attend to: critiquing the Oscars.

Yes, indeed, Hollywood is waiting to hear my pronouncement on this year's Oscar broadcast, a show that Roger Ebert called "the worst Oscarcast I've ever endured. It's time for the Board of Governors to have a long, sad talk with itself."

Well, Board of Governors, I am here for you. With just a few simple tweaks, you CAN make the Oscarcast bearable without strong drink. Trust me. I'm a liturgist.

First, a few commendations:
Choreography and I don't mean dancing. I mean year in and year out, people get on and off that stage at the right time in the right way without stumbling. Believe me, that is not nothing.
Huge high marks to your orchestra which is always spectacular and always helps move people on and off that stage without drawing (much) attention to itself.
This year's set design was fantastic. Just like art direction, set design is only noticed when it's bad. This year was pretty amazing.

Now. Here's six simple steps to a better Oscar show.

1) Always, always, always have a stand-up comedian host. This is not because you need someone funny (though that helps). This is because you need someone who can feel and work the crowd, who can adjust on the fly, who is not scared of dead air--or at least knows what to do when it happens.

2) Do NOT have two hosts. Here's the thing: if you have one host, that person has to engage and interact with the audience. If you have two hosts, they have to first and foremost interact with each other.

3) Your hosts don't need to use witty banter to present the hosts who will be using witty banter to present the nominees. Got that? In fact, I think just a voice-over as they enter, "And now to present the award for excellence in sound..."

4) Witty banter in general is overrated. When you're reading from a teleprompter, it's hard to sound witty. Cut the witty and go with things that make sense as pronouncements. Leave the witty to your comedian host.

5)Present all nominees at the same time. I'm looking at you, best song award. I know you're thinking, "We need some musical numbers in there." No, no you don't. You know what? We don't need to hear all the best song nominees all the way through. Just announce 'em with a bit of the song in the background, and give 'em the award. Really. It's better that way.

6) Five nominees for best picture is enough. It was a good thought. But no.

I would also like to say that I miss the Thalberg award, Humanitarian award and honorary Oscars. Those speeches, from people who knows they're getting the awards and have time to prepare and reflect, tend to be the best. And they go to giants in the field. Why on earth did you take them out? Knock out the song performances and you have time for at least one.

Board of Governors, I await your call.

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