Per­fect night pos­si­ble

Os­car-win­ning ideas on how the academy awards show can im­prove.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - OSCAR SPECIAL - By GLEnn WhIPP

We’re three days away from the Os­cars, which means we’re about three days and 10 sec­onds away from the first tweet com­plain­ing about the show. But why wait? Let’s be clear: we’re not wish­ing fail­ure on this year’s Os­car tele­cast or pre­dict­ing that host ellen DeGeneres will bomb. When it comes to the Os­cars, we’re al­ways hope­ful, like Li­nus wait­ing for the Great Pumpkin or a Los Angeles res­i­dent dream­ing of de­cent pub­lic trans­porta­tion. And then the show starts and Seth Mac­Far­lane spends 16 min­utes mak­ing a joke about how he’s go­ing to fail at the job and then goes on to do just that for the next three hours and ... mmmph ... it’s wait un­til next year.

But it’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent on March 2, right? Pro­duc­ers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are back on the job, as is DeGeneres, re­turn­ing as host seven years af­ter her first turn. We’re sure they’re go­ing to put all that ex­pe­ri­ence to good use. But, you know, just in case, here are a few ideas for a more per­fect night, both for this year and the fu­ture.

Ramp up the en­ergy, Ellen

We en­joyed your low-key charm back in 2007. Ask­ing Steven Spiel­berg to snap your pic­ture with Clint east­wood? Adorbs. But there’s a fine line be­tween un­pre­ten­tious and just a lit­tle dull. Don’t let Mac­Far­lane’s fail­ure last year keep you from stir­ring the pot. As long as you’re funny, no one will mind the barbs. (Pub­licly, at least.)

Pick a host. Then stay the course

We’ve gone from the “OMG! Os­cars heart young people” Anne Hath­away / James Franco de­ba­cle to nos­tal­gic, Old Hol­ly­wood Billy Crys­tal (“We’ve cor­nered the 70- to 85year-old mar­ket!”) then, last year, to naughty (Mac­Far­lane) to this year’s re­turn to nice. The Golden Globes, mean­while, are en­joy­ing record rat­ings, hav­ing es­tab­lished a con­sis­tent tone by em­ploy­ing the same great hosts year af­ter year. (ricky Ger­vais ran things from 2009 to 2011; Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are signed next year for a third straight goaround.) The au­di­ence knows what to ex­pect and ac­tu­ally looks for­ward to what’s com­ing. Crazy, huh?

So, if DeGeneres kills it this year, bring her back. If not, the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sci­ences needs to find the 21st century equiv­a­lent of Crys­tal, Johnny Carson and Bob Hope – hosts who skill­fully presided over the Os­cars for years. Since ABC has the tele­cast through 2020, it’s not go­ing to be Jimmy Fal­lon, who amped up the fun as emmy host in 2010. So why not Jimmy Kim­mel, who, at the 2012 em­mys, dis­played a win­ning goofi­ness that played both at home and the room it­self?

Change the venue

“The Os­cars used to be a good time,” says robert Os­borne, au­thor of 85 Years Of The Os­car: The Of­fi­cial His­tory Of The Academy Awards. “But that was back in the early years when it was a ban­quet and people used to be able to eat and drink and re­lax. It was a party ev­ery­one wanted to at­tend. Now no one wants to go un­less they have to.”

So why not move it back to a ball­room? Scal­ing back on the starch­i­ness of a theatre set­ting would do won­ders for the vibe in the room and, by ex­ten­sion, the show it­self. If, as Tina Fey tells the Los Angeles Times, “high lev­els of stress are shoot­ing out of just about ev­ery­one” at the Os­cars, a cock­tail – or a plate of Wolf­gang Puck ap­pe­tis­ers – might help.

Keep it at three hours

The Os­cars used to clock in un­der three hours reg­u­larly. Then, be­gin­ning in 1974, the show be­gan to stretch. Os­borne at­tributes the bloat to added per­for­mance num­bers and ac­tors who be­lieve that time lim­its for speeches “ap­ply to ev­ery­one else but them.”

So how do you trim the fat?

Move the shorts cat­e­gories

They ex­ist to hon­our up-and-com­ers – and to screw up ev­ery­one’s Os­car pools. But how about a sep­a­rate cer­e­mony where the work can be cel­e­brated at greater length and men­tor­ships can be es­tab­lished?

not all songs are cre­ated equal

And song­writ­ers would be the first to tell you this. Some songs fit nicely within the con­text of a film but aren’t ex­actly per­for­mance show-stop­pers. Oth­ers, like Adele’s Sky­fall, rank as mo­ments that will draw view­ers. This year’s plan to have all four of the nom­i­nees per­form might seem like overkill, but it’s a good call. U2 – can’t go wrong. Karen O’s ten­der, bit­ter­sweet The Moon Song will get the home view­ers to stop chat­ting and pay at­ten­tion. Frozen’s Let It Go? That’ll get the kids to watch. Phar­rell Wil­liams? Great, his hat could bring in an au­di­ence all on its own.

Stream­line the Best Pic­ture in­tro­duc­tions

Or elim­i­nate them al­to­gether. How about just a clip reel ping-pong­ing be­tween great mo­ments from all the nom­i­nated movies?

Do keep the “In memo­riam” trib­ute, though it can cel­e­brate with­out be­ing so somber. May we sug­gest that some­one (Karen O?) sing We’ll Meet Again? It’s sen­ti­men­tal with­out be­ing maudlin, and Stan­ley Kubrick liked it enough to put it in the last scene of Dr. Strangelove. Now that is movie magic. — Los Angeles Times/ McClatchy-Tri­bune

In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

host­ing duty: View­ers en­joyed ellen deGeneres’ low-key charm back when she hosted the Os­cars in 2007. Will she win us over this year?

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