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Another Academy Reversal. But We're Still Feeling Battered

We were offline last night (a break for computer strained eyeballs) so we're hours late delivering the news but good news is still good the next morning. Deadline scooped that the Academy has decided to reverse the decision to not present all categories live. This is a very happy turn of events but it's also left us feeling bruised and battered. Deadline's scoop reminds us that a large part of the problem -- a problem that's not going away any time soon -- is the way the media frames these issues. The media is essentially complicit in ABC's tactics at undermining the Oscars. For those who are looking closely at the situation it's become blindingly obvious that ABC is a toxic and abusive partner to The Academy, more concerned with pushing their own stars (like Jimmy Kimmel) and movies (more awards for Disney blockbusters plz -- hey how about a "popular Oscar"?) than perpetuating the brand of the Oscars themselves. And that brand, the Oscars, is the reason people tune in each year, not for any particular host or any particular movie.

ABC has strategically kept the Academy in panic mode with 'the sky is falling' style messaging about their lack of popularity (which is bollocks but facts are hard to see when you're in an abusive relationship). But the problem  becomes larger because the media continually helps them do it! Consider the way Mike Fleming Jr frames the piece (and he's hardly the first) in his article...

This become the latest in an Oscarcast that has been trying hard to bring the Academy Awards into the 21st century, but bucking up against an organization steeped in tradition.

The implication here is that denying four winners their Oscars live is somehow *more* 21st century and, thus more hip than the tradition itself of giving out all the Oscars. What could be more wrong than the notion that, in today's streaming world and culture of immediacy, that tape delay and edited broadcasts are more appealing and more modern for viewers? They aren't. You could argue that "Live" broadcasts are actually more popular than they've ever been. With 21st century technology, live musicals on TV, live "results" shows for dumb reality competitions, live sporting events (think of how annoyed people are when the Olympics are tape delayed) are common place. And then consider the dwindling appeal of stretched out release patterns when every city or country gets things weeks or months aparts to (theoretically) build buzz when buzz spreads like wildfire now in second online. If anything to be 21st century is to do it live for everyone all at once! (Which the Oscars were already doing in the 20th century).

The culture of RIGHT NOW and immediacy is also in indirect conflict with ABC's (and full time media complainers) repeated concerns about the show's length. For whatever reason media pundits and television critics and everyone likes to say "the Oscars are too long." But nobody ever says that the Superbowl should be shorter (the only show more popular than the Oscars) and if you think something is too long another thing that's very 21st century is to just wait and digest it in itty bitty bites on YouTube the next day anyway (another popular 21st century habit that the Oscars have totally embraced with their quick  release of clips. In today's streaming culture where people habitually watch 12-13 hours of one story over a day or three as a "binge," and 'Netflix bloat' is common vernacular because stories have so much padding due to this unending audience patience, and in a culture where movies are generally longer than they were decades ago (90 minutes seems like a thing of the past doesn't it?), is it really 21st century to have shorter running times than you used to?

And consider all the free bad advice the media is always giving the Oscars like this one from the Deadline article:

There are still compromises that can be explored, even this late into the proceedings. Here is one, free of charge. I’ve heard that in past Oscarcasts, they recorded the amount of collective time that it took between a winner being announced, and that recipient or recipients collecting the obligatory hugs and kisses, and then weaving the way to the stage. Over the course of an entire show, 26 minutes were wasted, before a single word of an acceptance speech was made. Would it not be worth exploring putting all the nominees onstage, and then announcing the winner? It would provide a sharing moment of respect and even those who don’t win can congratulate the winner, who can give a quick speech and the whole lot whisked off stage as the Oscars heads into a commercial. 

They already tried a version of this -- I forget which misbegotten ceremony -- and it was gross to have the losers on stage, removed from the company of their loved ones, and having to just stand there awkwardly when the winner was plucked from among them. But, more importantly, how are the hugs and kisses a "waste" of time? The emotion in these moments, when someone realize they're 'a winner, baby'  is basically the entire heart of awards shows or at least its the rapidly increasing heart rate before the fuller emotional arc of the acceptance speech itself (a good one at least). 

Honestly the Academy would be better merely seating the nominees closer to the stage and gifting all of them with professional speechwriters so that they avoid the dull recitation of names style of speeches -- that's the true hidden cause of boredom and 'leaden pacing' on awards nights. 

ABC and the continually "helpful" media who are just as short-sighted as the Academy when they publish their annual '10 ways to fix the Oscars' drivel (not all ideas are bad but you have to sift through a lot of bad takes to get to an idea that is actually movie-honoring-friendly and awards-show strong) are clearly toxic partners for the Academy leaders. But they're not, in the end, to blame. This mess of a season still falls squarely on Dawn Hudson, John Bailey, and the current boards of governors and executive committee members who agreed to these initial changes which were almost uniformly NOT in keeping with the Academy's identity and purpose. In the end these people are grown adults who only have themselves to blame when they lack spine and business sense to stand up to toxic whispering partners who want to "help" them, and they only have themselves to blame if they lack leadership skills or transparency in that same leadership to the point where they've ended up continually enraging their own constituents. 

We hope the Oscars run forever and are still an annual big deal 100 years after we're dead. But in order for that to happen, they need a new board of governors first chance they get. When electing leaders they need, first and foremost, governors and presidents and executive committee members who actually love Oscar night and understand why it's held such consistent appeal for 91 years. They need executives and leaders who cherish both the art of the movies and the visual and emotional language of awards shows. The membership needs to elect leaders within each branch that are TV savvy enough to get that the show could be more fun and well paced without sacrificing its very essence. And they need to elect leaders with wits enough to stop imbibing the poison coming from ABC and stop believing all the misguided "help" coming from the media that often takes the form of 'do what this other show does that's less popular than you!'. And (whew the list is getting long) they need realists who are not under the delusion or fantasy that the show will ever be watched by as many people as it was in the 1960s when there were only 3 channels. That era is long gone. 

Are all of those needs a tall order to find in leaders within each branch of the Academy and at the very top? Maybe. But it's what movie lovers and Oscar night deserves. 

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Reader Comments (54)

Are you by any chance referring to the 13th Academy Awards?

To quote 'Inside Oscar':
Presenting the Best Director Award, Frank Capra called all the nominees to the podium and suggested they shake each other's hands for jobs well done. Warily, George Cukor, Alfred Hitchcock, Sam Wood and William Wyler followed orders. Then, recalling his own humiliation seven years earlier, Capra opened the envelope and discovered that the winner was John Ford for 'The Grapes of Wrath', who had told reporters that he and Henry Fonda would be in a boat off the coast of Mexico "for as long as the fish are biting". While the losing directors crawled back to their tables, Darryl Zanuck stepped forward and accepted for Ford.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

Can we crowd source a page in Variety and publish this there verbatim? Amen. AMEN.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRobUK

Are you hearing me clapping all the way from Brazil? Because I'm giving this a loud applause.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterV.

Yes, we can! 💪🏻❤
Now, we want only 5 nominees for Best Picture, like it always should be.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFabio Dantas Flappers

Fantastic analysis. Thank you!

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrady

Amen x 100, Nathaniel. Thank you for spelling it out so clearly. Someone please fire Dawn Hudson, John Bailey, and the governors and executive committee members for their truly spineless behaviors this whole past year. I'm still pissed off at them, though glad they caved on this particular issue.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Glad they reversed the decision. I had decided to not watch this year since it was taking on all the earmarks of a disaster. I can't say it's lost that smell but at least by now not disrespecting the nominees it has reverted to some sense of normalcy.

I'll never understand why it seems such a struggle to streamline the show. Year after year everyone complains about the pointless montages, and they should 90% of the time they stink. Cut them all but the In Memorium and it has to save at minimum 30-45 of running time. So with them removed and no host they should have no problem handing out 24 awards in a three hour time period.

Sadly I doubt they'll ever bring back the Honoraries.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Imagine if the Oscars were on some channel like PBS, that actually cares about the arts

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

I believe Nathaniel was talking about the 77th Academy Awards. Here is Sandy Powell accepting her Oscar from the stage.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

Mr W -- what Irvin said ... the 77th Oscars. They also tried one with accepting the awards in the aisles.

I mean. I dont understand why awards shows just cant' accept that GIVING OUT AWARDS is the point. That's not the place you try to streamline. You streamline the filler inbetween the actual awards presentations.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

This piece by Anne Thompson really help shed light to Bailey's style of management:

Basically he just has zero media/social skills so wasn't able to properly present his changes to the public nor anticipate the furor of it all. That said, he was the leader, but there were a lot of other people in the room with him. What's all of their excuses?

And as you so astutely pointed out, a lot of these changes would have be regressive instead of "bringing the Oscars to the 21st century." Change is good, but change coming from fear and a lack of understanding of what the show is--a ceremony to honor movies--is change we certainly don't want.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I've never understood why they don't just sell the rights to broadcast the Governors Awards. Certainly some network or streaming service would buy it, the profits could benefit their Museum, and we all would love to watch. They could even do a red carpet pre-show.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I was just watching clips from the 2005 show (Million Dollar Baby year). It is the most recent year where they either had all the nominees onstage when the winner was announced, or the the presenter stood in the audience and revealed the winner. It was rather awkward, to say the least.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick T

Cut the montages! Dont show a trailer for each Best Picture nominee!

Everything else stays! (And let Hugh Jackman host again!)

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

There was something so off-putting about the idea of any of the categories (and you know they wouldn't even consider selecting the acting categories) being pushed aside. I think the Tony Awards do this for some categories-- having an earlier ceremony before the main show, and it normally includes some categories that seem pretty important (I want to say Book of a musical, for one). It just seems to imply that the work isn't what's being celebrated.

I kind of wonder why more ceremonies don't follow the format Bill Condon/Hugh Jackman's had-- I believe the presentation of the categories followed the way a movie was put together, which seemed like an interesting way to do it.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterArabella

Arabella -- and it definitely hasn't helped the Tonys to do it that way. They used to broadcast the "craft" portion on PBS an hour before the network presentation of the "top" categories and now they dont even do that. There's no drama and very little rooting public interest in awards that they aren't aware of. It's needless undermining of yourself. The Tonys did that long ago. Why should the Oscars follow suit? It's so strange that some people/executives want a similar self-maiming from an even more popular show.

February 16, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Suzanne -- i dont get that either. If there's an audience for the Kennedy Center Honors each year enough to broadcast it, there's 100% an audience for the Governors Awards, too.

February 16, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Having the academy pay to give each nominee a speech writer is the best advice I've heard regarding the Oscars all year. The one thing that drags down the show are people we've never heard of, who are not good on camera (the tech winners, ususally) just reciting a list of names of people we've never heard of.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDan H.

A standing ovation for Nathaniel. 100% agree...

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLuiz Carlos

I never thought I'd be defending football, but the running time comparisons between it and the Oscars aren't exactly sound. Unless it's a boring game (like this past year), there's usually some level of unpredictability that keeps the game exciting until the end. The Oscars have become a slog in recent years, but I feel like that has to do less with the telecast and more with the same, damn people winning the same, damn award for four consecutive months. Bring back the days of Marica Gay Harden and James Coborn-level surprises!!

WIth that said, I am THRILLED we'll get to see all the categories live and thank you, Nathaniel, for fighting the cause!! I hope this season hasn't broken you completely, because Oscar-watching would be nothing without you.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

It is time that the Academy seriously considers awarding the broadcast rights to another network. ABC is wielding too strong an influence, and it is a negative one. The Academy needs to assert itself and fiercely upholds its integrity and mission. Sadly, John Bailey seems oblivious to the detriment he has done.

ABC uses a prime hour to broadcast the red carpet arrivals with the most fawning and insipid interviews that are usually cringe-worthy. The "hosts" insert themselves as if they, too, were movie celebrities, with the women competing in designer gowns to rival the genuine stars. The ABC "talent" behaves as if it is on a par with the nominees.

I am likely alone in criticizing the pre-show. For those wanting to see the gowns, etc., it would be easier to have an off-camera commentator note the most significant arrivals,

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPete

Yes, while I watch the Oscars, when it hits that three hour mark I sometimes find myself going “wow, they still have four/five/six awards to present,” but I don’t turn the thing off. The notion that “length” is the reason people don’t watch is ludicrous.

There are two main reasons for the downturn in Oscar ratings. One, the oversaturation of awards shows with Oscars coming at the end. While it will help when they move the ceremony forward, the Oscars will still be at the end of the awards season lineup. Add in that this will allow for less time for the voters AND the public to see Oscar nominated (or potentially nominatable films in the first phase of voting) and I don’t see this as a ratings advantage.

Two, it’s politics. I’m a pretty centrist guy so I like to think I can see both sides of the coin here. Sure, things are more polarized than ever but people really don’t like to be bombarded with politics all the time. For decades now, I ALWAYS watched the Oscars. Appointment viewing for me. Last year, I happened to be on vacation when the Oscars aired and while I could have made it back to my hotel room to watch the opening hour of the ceremony, I blew it off. It was a first for me in probably twenty years. And part of my reasoning was that I didn’t need to see Kimmel’s opening monologue which could’ve hammered home a political message. It’s that “possibility” of politics that has turned people off. Sure, maybe a personalized speech or two can highlight a winner’s feelings, but beyond that Hollywood needs to realize they’re a bit too sanctimonious for their own good. (Look no further than the Weinstein situation to show their hypocrisy at certain things.)

The thing is you read articles like Pete Hammond’s “How Can We Fix the Oscars” stuff in Deadline and the industry fails to realize this. And it’s not just the Oscars. Ratings are down for all the major awards shows. Yes, partly because of oversaturation but also because of the “possibility of politics.” I know this is an unpopular opinion amongst the liberal Hollywood elite but this is the reality in small town America who decades ago (1940s-60s) fawned over celebrities and who don’t do that anymore. And this was beginning to rear it’s head in the pre-Trump era too — the Michelle Obama presenting Best Picture as an example was a turn-off to at least a third of your Oscar viewing public if not more.

Again, it’s a heated time politically — and I’m not saying it isn’t justifiably a heated time — but to not see, as an example, having the politically charged Jimmy Kimmel hosting the Oscars as a turn-off to a large portion of the populous is short-sighted. Had the Oscars not had all this craziness happen this year, the lack of a host could’ve been a huge plus for them rather than what is viewed now as a bit of a failure on their behalf. (Good Lord, AMPAS has truly screwed up this season.)

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJHR

This telecast is in chaos and I no longer care. This will be the 1st telecast that I will skip. Just give me the results the following morning.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

I second JHRs comments on the politicization of the ceremony. I never have understood why entertainers feel compelled to insult and belittle a large portion of a viewing audience when the subject is the Movies and not partisan issues. Please let us escape the heightened feelings of current events for a few hours each year.

Also, the notion of publishing Nathaniel's analysis in Variety is excellent. The broader membership of the Academy needs to understand how their most fervent fans view the Oscar ceremony.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPete

I agree with you 100% Nathaniel. The Academy needs to get away from ABC and stick to it's traditions.
The traditions are what makes the Oscars special.
Another example is The Kentucky Derby and The Westminster Dog Show. Traditions are what makes these events special.
They need to double down on these and stop listening to the bad advice from ABC and media pundits.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Great analysis, Nathaniel. I hope Bailey reads this. Nobody would host now after this string of emarrassing moves. How could they with any dignity. ABC is the devil. But not as smart.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

The "politicization" of the ceremony? Do you not remember Brando's notorious stunt in 1972? This argument is utter bullshit. Film is political, the world is political. Get over it. There is no separating politics from you art.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Seating nominees closer to the stage would save time. Some of the less glamorous nominees are banished to the back of the Dolby and so it is unfair to make them run up to the stage and give a speech within 90 seconds. The genuine look of joy when the winner is revealed is one of the best things about Oscar night. Don’t snuff it out. Nurture it.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

@Jonathan: Agreed. And if increasing ratings involves pandering to right-wingers then no need to change anything.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

Dont people watch less TV in general now? Maybe they should just change their entire approach if they want to get people to watch it? Largely I feel like people don’t care about movies anymore and how awards shows are interesting societal time capsules. Less things are sacred. Omg this is depressing

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterkris01

John Bailey's big mistake was thinking that the branch heads volunteering for this indignity meant... something. In reality none of the people with the microphones gave a damn what the appointed cronies in the board of governors had to say about this.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMJS

@Jonathan - The fact that people can't see the difference between now and Brando's stunt in 1972 is where the disconnect is occurring. I fully expect Alfonso Cuaron to say something about immigration and walls when he collects whatever award he collects. There's always been that aspect about the Oscars. It's expected, it would get the general eye roll from those on the opposite side of the spectrum and folks would just move on.

The disconnect comes when there's a host that is inherently KNOWN FOR berating one side of the political spectrum and the Academy foolishly thinking that half of the population will welcome him with open arms. I wasn't around for the Bob Hope/Johnny Carson hosting eras, but they weren't known for being Left or Right. They were equal opportunity offenders. Yes, Kimmel and Colbert are hot button entertainment figures which is why they garner more press than Fallon who perhaps follows more in the Hope/Carson concept of comedy...but Kimmel and Colbert won't bring in the audiences for this very reason. (@Bruno, it's not about pandering to the's about not insulting them as they watch...or not being equal opportunity insulters. If the Academy truly cares about ratings, this is their only way forward.)

Unfortunately, I think the polarization of our society, the hype surrounding outliers of both parties (Trump in the primaries, AOC now as examples), and the notion that if you're in the middle of things your voice doesn't matter is what hurts awards shows like this from succeeding now. It's about the sound bite, the Twitter tirade...and that's on both sides of the spectrum. It's just that Hollywood is only on one side of that spectrum and why they've disillusioned a wide swath of the public.

Yes, movies are political and there's nothing wrong with that. But celebrate the MOVIES...that's not what Kimmel, as an example, gives off when you put him center stage on Oscar night. That's not what relegating categories to the commercials does either.

Again, I think Kevin Hart (and his apolitical comedy) and the appeal of some blockbusters in major categories would've created an uptick for the Oscars this year, but the clusterfrak they created in the last two months may have done too much damage this year.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJHR

JHR - You are wrong about Bob Hope. He toured the US to drum up support for Vietnam, and he used to make political speeches in support of Richard Nixon on his Christmas specials. He was as political as Kimmel or Colbert, but he was a conservative.

Ellen DeGeneres basically exists in the Carson mode. She's a Democrat, but politics aren't central to her comedy. Why wouldn't people of all political stripes enjoy her? (Nevermind, we all know why.)

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

@JHR: this is concern trolling at its worst. Your politics are clearly not aligned with the majority of the Hollywood establishment, so either get used to that fact or maybe just don't watch? No one's going to change their ideals or censor themselves just so you can be more comfortable.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

@JHR: Sorry, your essays are just pure hogwash. Right-wingers abandoned the Oscars and "Hollywood libtards" long ago. It sounds like you're bothered by them too. Don't watch if you don't want to, watch if you do.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

Suzanne - I think if you look at ratings, Ellen is a good choice for the show. She wouldn't be a polarizing figure when it comes to ratings. (Her hosting gig was the second highest rated of the last decade only behind the Avatar year). That said, I'd lead towards the Hugh Jackman's or even the Billy Crystal's who despite being known as a comedian was a bit more of a showman.

Frankly, I think the lack of a host this year holds potential. Again, in the end, the focus should on MOVIES -- the current year of film and the history of film. I'm the kind of person that wouldn't mind if it were a four hour long ceremony as long as it carried some focus on the art of cinema -- I concur with Nathaniel's beliefs that they should put the Honorary Oscars back into the main ceremony.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJHR

JHR is 100 per cent right and yet this viewpoint is always aggressively batted down. This seems to me an unwillingness to acknowledge that not ALL film fans/Oscar watchers/cinephiles have the same political leanings.

But come on: if the Oscars spent the whole show bashing the left, do you really think we would want to sit through it? Better to avoid altogether.

The Brando comparison is not a good one because back in the day these were semi-regular occurrences. Same goes for Vanessa Redgrave and her Zionist hoodlums speech. Their political views were strong, sure, but these moments were more of a curiosity. What's more they made for great and surprising television, which is why we still talk about them today. Most people however kept politics out of it.

Nowadays, everybody fancies themselves as a political pundit, including half of the echo chamber that is Film Twitter. And everybody thinks they are right. There is no nuance anymore. Politics is even more polarized and people have adopted a 'you're either with us or against us' mentality.

And these days, every other presenter and actor feels the need to spout their political views at award shows. They are welcome to do so, but understand that this is what switches off those who either don't agree with their views, or would rather not have any kind of politics shoved down their throat.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterevangelina

@ Rob - Nathaniel's post talks about "ways to fix the Oscars." The only point I've raised is that IF "fixing the Oscars" includes a ratings increase and not just lessening the length of speeches or time to walk to the stage, the polarizing nature of them won't help that. Yes, within the last half century, Hollywood has always leaned left. Nothing inherently wrong with that.

Again, politicization isn't the only (or even the biggest) reason for the declining ratings. But to say it isn't a factor is foolish. Again, I have no vested interest in the Oscars' ratings themselves only that in order to maintain some sense of notoriety and reason for being, they need to stay on a major network. (Does SAG have the same "prestige" as the Oscars or even the Globes? Perhaps they should, but they don't.) This thread is kind of proving the point that people are perhaps afraid to say this is a factor when it comes to RATINGS (which is all I'm talking about).

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJHR

@evangelina: I have to laugh at your long-winded argument against aggressiveness and lack of nuance when you've spent the last few weeks saying things along the lines of "King ain't winnin' this" and provoking people in the process.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

It still mystifies me why that was is (and is) a provocative statement, Bruno... but let's not get onto that topic again.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterevangelina

If the Academy is all about reversing their decisions can we also give Timothee and Brokeback their rightful Oscars just to start? Thanks.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

@evangelina: Yes, I've gathered you're mystified why multiple people feel that way and can understand why you'd go to lengths to avoid the topic.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

Bruno, I'm not quite sure what you meant with that last comment. Look, this is a film site that discusses Oscar stuff. If you can't discuss Oscar stuff on an Oscar site, then what is its purpose? Nathaniel himself currently questions Regina King's chances in this category. As do many others. So what is the problem here?

If 'provoking' people can be achieved with two or three light and playful comments questioning King's chances, then those people probably need to get out more. The reason I would like to drop the topic completely is because after a while I started to find the whole thing a bit aggressively confrontational to be honest, courtesy of the douchebag who felt the need to throw a barrage of personal attacks in my direction.

Why are you continuing the attack when I haven't posted on the subject since that thread? Is this to be expected every time I post a comment that you disagree with? Please stop.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterevangelina

I think Nathaniel has gotten it right and I'd assert that those who believe that politics is a factor worth discussing for the decline of oscar viewership are incorrect.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

LOL. Would love for Meryl to be in the new Eichner/Apatow movie!

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Also, when I think of late night hosts who go political, Kimmel is near the last on my list. I would understand if we mentioned Stewart, but his first year was well within norms. But the biggest correlation with ratings has always been blockbusters being strong contenders. That's why the Argo+Life of Pi/Gravity/Avatar years are the last 3 40 million+ years. Last year has Get Out, but it wasn't entirely a strong contender for the top prize. This year should always be higher rated as (unfortunately) Bohemian Rhapsody is a strong contender for some top prizes. The host effect is minimal.

February 17, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterkin

I'm still not happy about the Honorary Oscars being shuffled to the side - Stanley Donen dancing with his Oscar, cheek-to-cheek, Peter O'Toole (presented by Meryl!) shading Adrien Brody's acceptance speech with "spared uncertainties prior to the opening of an envelope, I'm able to think " are some of the best Oscar moments ever.

February 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Nathaniel: Your choice to frame this piece in terms of the mostly strained relationship between the Academy and ABC made me realize that the opposite -- a mostly harmonious relationship between an institution and a network -- also exists, and continues to endure.

I'm talking about the Masters and CBS.

Golf doesn't really come up on this site very much, so for the unfamiliar, the Masters is a major golf tournament that takes place in Augusta, Georgia over 4 days every April. The tournament is owned and operated by the Augusta National Golf Club and its very wealthy and exclusive members. But the key here is that they also control most aspects of the broadcast. In 1956 they signed a one-year broadcast partnership with CBS, and they have renewed it annually ever since. Commercials are limited, and CBS is not allowed to promote its other programs.

The primary difference here is that Augusta National knows the product it has, and can afford to maintain a degree of ownership in order to preserve tradition. The Masters gets good ratings, and CBS does not seem to care if the final round on Sunday afternoon runs long and causes a delay with its prime time schedule in East Coast markets.

I don't know how much control the Academy has over the Oscars telecast, and I wonder if its own leadership is a greater obstacle than ABC is. It just seems like some organizational changes could result in a ceremony that actually leans in to what it is designed to celebrate, and that maybe we need not wait until their contract with ABC ends in 2028.

February 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrevity


February 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

To save your precious 3 hour airtime, just play snippets of the 5 Original Songs over the In Honorium segment..,(even though everybody wants to see Lady Gaga sing the only song they’ve heard of).

February 17, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

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