L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein has assembled the smartest and most creative suggestions for how to fix the Oscar show that I’ve read anywhere. I’ve listed a few, but it can all be boiled down to three words — fire Gil Cates. He’s too old to get with the 21st Century program and needs to be put out to pasture — simple. Bring in a producer who’s younger and fresher and more alive-in-the-moment. Somebody in their 60s, I mean.
(1) “Although I’m sure it will cause a firestorm inside the academy, the technical awards — sound editing, sound mixing, visual effects, makeup and costume design — have to go,” Goldstein writes. “No one outside of the academy wants to hear acceptance speeches from people they’ve never heard of, no matter how heartfelt. The Oscars may have once been a celebration of craft, but the world has changed. Today’s audience wants a horse race. The show is just bad TV.”
(2) “The same goes for those cringe-inducing renditions of the best original songs. With the exception of a wonderfully spare rendition of ‘Falling Slowly’ from Once, they were all massively overproduced, drenched in so much glitz that they lacked any emotional resonance. I mean, who did the choreography — Michael Bay? And why is the academy president Sid Ganis on camera, taking up valuable time explaining arcane voting procedures? It’s just dead air.
(3) “There is plenty of precedent for streamlining the Oscar telecast. Just watch the Grammys. In a typical telecast, the Grammys have roughly 20 musical performances while giving out 10 actual awards. The other 100-odd Grammys are presented earlier in the day at a pre-award show with presenters, acceptance speeches and a full audience. As an experiment, this year’s pre-show was webcast on Grammy.com with the idea of expanding it into a bigger event in the future.”
(4) “MTV stages a web simulcast for its Video Music Awards, with separate hosts situated backstage, giving fans watching on the Internet a chance to see some of the backstage action. The Oscars should have a full-on web broadcast, anchored backstage by someone who’s been in a Judd Apatow movie, with live remotes from Oscar parties around the country.
(5) “The technical awards, beefed up with appearances by younger actors and filmmakers as presenters, would have enough appeal to merit their own telecast, perhaps on a movie channel like AMC or Turner Classic Movies the night before the Oscars. Freed from the weight of academy ceremony and tradition, they could serve as a proving ground for fresh ideas and new talent that could be incorporated into future Oscar telecasts.
(6) “Having a separate, less formal tech ceremony would allow the academy to experiment with new ideas, whether it’s trying a web simulcast, showing user-generated parodies of Oscar films or launching a Web-sponsored ‘pick the host’ contest. The show could add star appeal by doing interviews with stars preparing for the big show the following night, playing fun clips from the Independent Spirit Awards or having a live remote from an industry Saturday-night party.”