“The grim previews of the 81st Academy Awards show on Feb. 22 at the Kodak Theatre, designed by David Rockwell — the modern-day Rube Goldberg responsible for the Mohegan Sun Indian casino, the ugly sets for Hairspray and the Jet Blue terminal at J.F.K. — are already being described as ‘community theater on steroids,'” writes N.Y. Observer critic Rex Reed in a piece that went up last night at 8 pm.

“[They] include a curtain made of 92,000 crystals, a thrust stage requiring an orthopedic surgeon in residence for presenters in stiletto heels, 20 monumental Art Deco arches, the removal of the traditional orchestra pit, lights filtered through silver-rope curtains and strands of silver-leaf balls, 19 screens flying through space and fluted chandeliers floating above the audience, all dominated by the color blue. It sounds like a vulgar stage show in Atlantic City starring Siegfried and Roy, designed to turn passionate movie lovers into dyspeptic movie critics — only a handful of whom will still be awake by the time the five final (and only important) prizes of the night are announced.”

This is funny stuff, but at least Oscar show producers Bill Condon and Larry Mark are trying to re-think things and operate out of the box.