Os­car gets less than top marks for per­for­mance

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News - By Don­ald Clarke

So, did the Os­car or­gan­is­ers do enough to re­verse the de­cline in TV rat­ings? That was, af­ter all, the strat­egy be­hind in­creas­ing the num­ber of best pic­ture nom­i­nees from five to 10. Invit­ing such icons of in­fancy as Mi­ley Cyrus and Tay­lor Laut­ner to present awards also looked like an at­tempt to court a younger de­mo­graphic that has been drift­ing away from Os­car over the past decade.

Well, ini­tial in­di­ca­tions sug­gest that the US view­ing fig­ures for last Sun­day’s cer­e­mony were up about 14 per cent on last year’s bash. Some 41 mil­lion US view­ers tuned in, mak­ing the 2010 awards the most-watched since 2005.

In truth, this is not quite as sig­nif­i­cant an im­prove­ment as the or­gan­is­ers might have hoped for. The high­point for Os­car view­ing came in 1998, when 55 mil­lion US view­ers turned on to watch the most suc­cess­ful film ever made – some James Cameron pro­duc­tion – take the top prize. If the Academy can’t recre­ate that suc­cess when Avatar is in hot com­pe­ti­tion, when can they do it?

The over­rid­ing sense of an­tique odd­ness about this year’s cer­e­mony will not have helped the cause much. The set looked as though it had been dusted off from the 1972 cer­e­mony. Steve Martin and Alec Bald­win seemed un­able to read the au­tocue. The stage an­nounce­ments were of­ten in­audi­ble to TV view­ers. And Ge­orge Clooney scowled through­out like a re­cently spanked four-yearold. Good luck, next year, Academy.

“Think of it as May­berry,” Stephen Pre­court, a Repub­li­can politi­cian, said, re­fer­ring to the idyl­lic set­ting of an­cient sit­com The Andy Grif­fith Show. “That’s when I grew up – the ’60s. That’s what life was like. I want Florida to be known for mak­ing those kinds of movies: Dis­ney movies for kids and all that stuff. Like it used to be, you know?”

Pre­court was asked if the in­clu­sion of gay char­ac­ters in a script would be enough to deny a film state sup­port. “That would not be the kind of thing I’d say that we want to in­vest pub­lic dol­lars in,” he replied un­am­bigu­ously.

There’s the great mak­ings of a re­ally se­ri­ous brawl in this de­vel­op­ing con­tro­versy.

Frankly creak­ing: Martin and Bald­win adding to the an­tique odd­ness of this year’s Os­cars

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