Thursday, February 5, 2009

How to Win

People are worried about the Oscars. In the last few years, viewership has dropped considerably. Last year's was the least-watched show ever, with 32 million viewers. Compare that to the 1998 Titanic year show, which 55 million people lost. Producers want to get people glued to the screen. After all, why would companies pay a lot to have their ads shown during the show if everyone's watching something else?

So this year, producers are trying out a few new ideas. One things they think might work: closing the broadcast with fresh 10-second snippets of two dozen new movies, which will run on a split screen with the end credits. The idea being that people will stick around for the whole show to watch these. I love 10-seconds of stuff I could probably find online.

Hosting this year is Hugh Jackman. So far, that's their best bet to get lots of ladies to watch. And he's hosted the Tonys before, so at least he can handle himself in that situation.

It's a tough job, making a good award show. These days, you don't have to watch the whole thing to find out who won every award. You can just check the updates on IMDB. (That's what I'll probably do.) Plus, there are a gazillion award shows now. The Oscars don't seem special anymore.

But I've got a suggestion that might help out: nominate movies people actually liked. Was Titanic a great script? No way. But people freakin' loved it and they watched to see if it would win everything from Best Sound Design to Best Picture. Why would people watch an award show honoring movies they probably haven't seen?

At Cinematical, Peter Marin suggests that the Academy Awards take a hint from the Superbowl, which people have turned into like crazy over the last couple of years--even people who didn't watch the games every week. His suggestions include half-time film critic commentary, embracing the length, and reducing speeches.

I think the show should go even further. Instead of choosing winners, kick the award into the air and have nominees fight it out. (Normal tackling rules apply.) Plus, this would encourage dangerously thin nominees to bulk up a little beforehand. Chug that protein drink, Anne Hathaway!