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« Chris Rock and the White Elephant in the Room | Main | Pt 1: Winners. Trivia. Stats. (How'd you do on your predictions?) »
Monday
Feb292016

Finding Time for Two Disrespected Song Nominees

There's already been quite a stir over the two nominated Best Original Song nominees that producers decided not to include in the telecast: Racing Extinction's "Manta Ray" by J. Ralph and Anohni (our only transgender nominee) and Youth's "Simple Song #3" by David Lang (also Nathaniel's 2015 favorite). The reason for not including these songs with their more famous competitors in the telecast was "time constraints."

The timing of the Oscar ceremony is undoubtably tricky, so let's do a little math.

  • The three performed songs each were shortened from their full length, a great way to still get them on an already long broadcast. "The Writing's On the Wall" lost the most time at almost two minutes, but "Earned It" was the shortest performance at roughly 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Let's assume the two unfamous songs should be given that amount of time as a minimum.
  • "Til It Happens to You" had the longest intro at 2 minutes and the longest applause with 30 seconds. Since a popular political figure wouldn't likely introduce the songs, factor in about a generous minute and a half for intro and applause.
  • At four minutes per song, we now must find 8 minutes to trim from the broadcast to fit in these performances.

Now I'm no expert on the minutiae of planning a massive production like the Oscar telecast, b most of these suggestions require minimal logistical shifts. Some, like less animation production, could even save a headache or two. Having funny bits throughout the show is crucial to a memorable telecast, which is why bits like the spoofs of The Danish Girl and The Martian will always be essential. But when focusing on honoring the nominees, you'd have to pick and choose your battles on what extra pieces stay and go.

So we'll do just that after the jump...

Let's find the time after the jump for these two songs to get their due! Ready: GO!

  • Cut 30 seconds off the long opening montage - start with footage from nomination-less films like Furious 7 Approx. Time Saved: 30 seconds
  • Stacey Dash. The joke landed with no one and only made her look worse Approx. Time Saved: 30 seconds
  • Limit presenters time to go off script with soft jokes that go on too long - we're looking at you Ryan Gosling and Sarah Silverman Approx. Time Saved: 1 minute
  • The Girls Scouts bit is great, but it popping up twice means some time can be shaved Approx. Time Saved: 30 seconds
  • The "Black History Month Minute"/Jack Black video is funny, but takes a full minute to land a single joke. It can go Approx. Time Saved: 1 minute
  • Someone should have said "no" to Sacha Baron Cohen wasting extra time on presenting Room in character Approx. Time Saved: 30 seconds
  • Seeing Buzz, Woody, and the Minions is okay, but doesn't need to run so long Approx. Time Saved: 30 seconds
  • The visit to the movie theatre bit is a rehash that was better the last time Chris Rock hosted. It's also long enough to allow an entire song performance Approx. Time Saved: 3 minutes
  • Always a logistics complaint: get below the line nominees seated closer to the stage to save time on the victory march Approx. Time Saved: 30 seconds (but safely more)

And there you have it: 8 whole minutes with which to fit the missing performances without making any more sacrifices to the actual nominees. If these are sacrifices that can't be made, then simply add them into the show without cutting anything. This year's telecast ran 3 hours and 38 minutes long. When your show is that long anyway, why insult contenders who have earned their nomination over a mere 8 minutes?

If you haven't already, be sure to listen to the two Best Original Song nominees not included in the big show!

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Reader Comments (27)

#WhoIsStaceyDash?

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

I actually noticed that they kept seating whoever's tech category was coming up on the box seats by the stage so they're already putting that into practice (though not for ALL below the line categories; perhaps only ones that had one nominee per film? I stopped trying to figure out the logistics but there's clearly science behind their madness).

February 29, 2016 | Registered CommenterManuel Betancourt

Tyler - Don't research, you'll become angry

February 29, 2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

I say cut the Red Carpet crap--who the eff cares what Maria Menounos or Robin Roberts or some other starlet looks like, we'll see them online the next day--to get another hour of programming. I rather watch all the nominated songs, the special tributes (don't broadcast 20 seconds of a speech from a different night--we're never gonna get the kind of speech from someone like Barbara Stanwyck in 1982 without making it part of the SAME night), and more importantly COMPLETE thank yous (even the wackadoo ones) delivered by actual WINNERS who deserve longer than 1 minute at the podium for a prize from their peers. I don't mind the "bits", but cut out the presenter scripted crap--it's always awkward and wasteful when we could have been rewarded with a much longer and better speech by the very deserving and eloquent Tom McCarthy. And hey--how come they didn't start playing the music on DiCaprio? In terms of time, it seems he got more than those two lowly screenwriters.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Agreed on all of those except cutting the Black History Minute because you don't cut ANGELA BASSETT! (plus it was super funny)

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

They could have sung Simple Song #3 during the In Memoriam segment. Then they would have had to find only a couple of minutes more for Manta Ray. To suggestion: Bag the Girl Scouts and their wretched cookies.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterken s

Manuel - I was also really confused how they determined who was sitting in those box seats, since about half of the below the line category winners still were coming from the far reaches of the theater. It seemed really arbitrary?

The Anohni / Sumi Jo exclusion is never not going to hurt. The Academy REALLY screwed up. Sam Smith's ignorant speech trying to make a vague "gay rights!" stance, but not even mentioning fellow nominee Anohni is tone deaf on a mind-boggling level.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSean Diego

Tyler - She's Dionne from Clueless. If that's all you ever find about who she is, you'll be happier for it...

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Nathaniel - denying myself (and the audience) the gift of Angela Bassett is a price I'm willing to pay for the sake of fairness.

Ken - that. is. brilliant. And saves us from that sacrilegious Dave Grohl performance that was an insult to actual dead people

February 29, 2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

The music branch needs to get its shit together.

This year's contenders prove that the nominating process has deviated toward popular, telecast-friendly artists. "Golden Globe fare," let's say. Bond songs didn't suddenly get good in 2012. It looks like a conscious effort to vote with the public and nominate songs people actually hear and enjoy.

Telecast producers wouldn't have the liberty to make these omissions if that change in the music branch weren't real and deliberate. If it didn't look like "three for you, two for us" then the telecast producers wouldn't be able to approach the nominees that way.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W.

It hurts me to say, but they could have cut the Star Wars droid bit. Nice to mention John Williams's 50th nomination, but that was painful to sit through.

And really, for over two minutes of Sam Smith's pitchy, shuffling mess we had to miss out on Sumi Jo's gorgeous voice?!?

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Manuel: That's my take on the seating of the tech nominees. When it's a sole nominee for a film (say, Cinematography or Original Score), they go in the box!

Sean Diego: Granted, Sam Smith's speech wasn't the most eloquent or thought-through, but he seemed really overwhelmed to win. And any shout-out to the LGBT community from a podium as large as Oscar's is always welcome.

Chris Feil: What didn't you like about Dave Grohl's performance? It was fine, no?

Hayden W.: You're right. Bond songs have always been good! It's just that in 2012 the Academy finally couldn't deny one an Oscar, and somehow this year they did it again. As for the popular, telecast-friendly artists, if this category can return to the super-populist run of hits the Academy crowned in the 1980s, that won't be a bad thing! As long as they can find room for all the nominees to perform at the ceremony, that is...

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

I could have done without the entire girl scout bit, it wrecked the rhythm of the show and was too long. It made the show more about Chris and I didn't think we needed more. The host should do their opening and then basically get out of the way.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

The problem with Sam Smith's lunkheaded speech is that he is appealing to a sense of history and community but he himself seems wholly ignorant of the history of the community he is trying to inspire. Instead his speech comes off as being solipsistic and self-serving. Basically he is saying, "I don't know about any other gays or care enough to look up the facts but I'm gay and I should be an inspiration to you all."

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

The girl scout cookie segments and the Compton movie goer segment weren't funny or interesting and should have been cut out.

The Angela Bassett bit was hilarious.

And as for Stacey Dash - I'm pretty sure she's back on Fox News today slamming the liberal Hollywood crowd. Poor thing must have been retching when Joe Biden appeared.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

Raul, I think Sam Smith had no idea he'd win and didn't have much of anything prepared. He wasn't in anyone's prediction pool, was he? Everyone assumed it'd be Gaga.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

Not to mention Smith acknowledges in his speech that he's "not sure" if the fact that he read is correct. People really have their claws out for that guy, huh?

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Sam Smith won the Golden Globe. He could have taken the time to research a speech in case he also won the Oscar.

I'd have cut the Stacey Dash bit because nobody looked good out of that. And, yeah, cut the girl scout cookie bit, especially since it seemed so staged and just a rip-off of Ellen's pizza bit. Could they not just do a bit where he goes "The Academy has bought everybody a box of a girl scout cookies!" and had people come and hand them out during the commercial break?

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

“I read an article a few months ago, by Sir Ian McKellen, and he said no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar, and if this is the case — and even if it isn’t the case — I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world,”

His wording is actually amazingly judicious for a guy who didn't expect to win and didn't have anything prepared. *And even if it isn't the case*. I hate that his actual message, which follows that line, is minimized because he got tangled up in something he read that was very easy to misinterpret.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I agree with you Jonathan, it seemed he just wanted to shout out to the gay community, but boy what a brutal backlash. It seems totally disproportional to the 'sin' or offense.
Sort of like the brouhaha over Stephen Fry's joke about Jenny Bevan.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Totally agree that they should have found time for these performances and get your point, but isn't it a little unfair to Monday morning some of this stuff? It's not like they knew ahead of time that some of this stuff was going to tank.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMJS

For time cut the Angela Bassett segment but have her present instead of Baron Cohen. That way, we have a professional presentation and Olivia Wilde doesn't have to pretend she is not uncomfortable. Not since Idina Menzel's face was felt up by Travolta has there been that much uncomfortable body language.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Jonathan and LadyEdith: Thanks for bringing some moderation. Sam Smith always comes across as nice. Why do people get so tough on him?

His performance of the song at the ceremony wasn't too great - but on the plus side, it's a pretty radical song with some beautiful chord progressions, and I don't think it's a bad choice for the Oscar.

I do agree with the general tenor of this article - it would have been nice to have found time for all five songs to be performed. Hopefully next year the show's producers won't slip up like that.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

"Manta Ray" and "Simple Song #3" were the best songs nominated. It's absolutely infuriating that Anohni was not invited to perform. By a considerable margin, she is the best vocalist we have right now. She's our Nina Simone. With Kendrick Lamar, she is the most relevant music artist currently working. She deserved that moment!

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

I think the producers fuzzy thinking regarding time management is best encapsulated with their handling of Kevin Hart. This is from the LA Times article on backstage goings on -

"All right, guys, we're going completely off book," Hart said to the crew before he introduced the Weeknd's performance. "Get ready!"

By all accounts he did: Hart had not delivered his onstage comments about actors of color at Oscar rehearsals. When the comic returned from the stage, he shared a warm hug with show producer Reginald Hudlin."

So he forewarned them that he was going off script. Instead of saying 'nope Kev, you'll deliver what we rehearsed only', they let him prattle on and literally welcomed him off stage with open arms! Infuriating.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEz

I think they also cut that song from the other documentary in the year Skyfall wins.
No one makes a fuss then, and the song I think was sung by Scarlett Johannson!

March 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

I wonder if people would have jumped on Sam Smith's faux pas so much if his OSCAR-WINNING song hadn't been so godawful.

And no, you couldn't cut the Angela Bassett bit. It was the perfect anti-acknowledgement of the Smith family and their self-serving ways, and was funnier than anything else in the show. (Boycott when you are the only nominee of color, not when you're feelings are hurt because you weren't nominated for your shitty movie.)

Do we really need the Toy Story characters and the Star Wars robots in every Oscar telecast? And the Minions? Geez, they're not even from good movies. Who do they think they're drawing with these appearances? Nine-year-olds?

March 5, 2016 | Unregistered Commentervladdy

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