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The Oscar Telecast Decision

The Motion Picture Academy announced that the Oscar telecast would be awarding some categories right before the broadcast, so as to squeeze the off-camera winners into the live show via tape-delay and save time.

This is the kind of thing that makes me worry I’ll never be a very popular blogger (or podcaster, or “influencer,” whatever).

I just don’t care!

I’m sure it’s very disappointing to the people in the affected categories—which includes Best Original Score—but this isn’t life and’s a TV show of movie awards.

The bigger problem seems that no matter what they do or try, ever year the show gets longer, more boring and less relevant. (Last year’s train-station, COVID-hobbled ceremony seemed to be the most indulgent and yawn-inducing yet.)

I remember some of the innovations of recent years...and some of them I liked. I remember one year Peter Coyote was on camera announcing, is that right? Didn’t people make fun of that? I thought it was mildly interesting.

I just checked and that was 22 years ago—wow.

The problem is that there are just so many constituencies to serve, so much tradition to uphold, that, well, it’s what Sergio Leone said about what happens when you try to cut down a long movie: you don’t get a short movie, you get a long movie with stuff missing.

The most boring part of the Oscars are those “minor” categories where somebody wins and blabs forever about nothing.

And the most memorable parts are often those same “minor” categories where somebody wins and is unexpectedly interesting, heartfelt and moving.

You just don’t know.

They save the most time by cutting down on the “walk time” for the winners, and giving the hook to overlong speeches...and yet that’s the single most mean-spirited, unpleasant thing about the telecast in recent years: some lifer craftsperson finally wins an Oscar, thanks her husband and kids, turns it over to her co-winner to do the same—and they cut his mic.

It’s like—Jeez! Let the guy have his moment.

I remember in 2011, Brett Ratner was announced to produce the show, and he called me, knowing me from when FSM used to cover the scores to his films. He asked for my advice on the “In Memoriam” music and I recommended Bernard Herrmann’s The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (which I’m still surprised they’ve never used).

A few weeks later, Brett was forced out, for saying stupid and offensive things. So much for Benny Herrmann—sorry Benny.

I’ve never been at a show—and don’t really care to go—but I do watch the awards. In recent years, the telecast makes me more frustrated that all these people are having success and I’m nowhere in my career.

I know this is a bad attitude to have, but it’s human—so I can only imagine what it’s like being in that theater as more and more winners are announced, which by definition leaves more and more “losers” to stew in their juices.

I’ve also fantasized about winning and thanking my wife and kids, and maybe saying something memorable and witty yet gracious—like probably lots of people have fantasized.

I just find it’s not helpful to dwell upon something—winning awards, or even being nominated—that’s so completely out of your control and depends on luck far more than anybody would admit.

I remember when soundtrack album producer Nick Redman was unexpectedly nominated, with Paul Seydor for their Sam Peckinpah documentary short, An Album in Montage—and boy did that go to his head!

That really was a great documentary, by the way:

The real problem with the Oscars today is that there is such a complete disconnect between the stuffy, “medicinal” nominees and things that most human beings actually watch.

It wasn’t always like this—but the split has occurred, and I don’t see a pathway to it getting any better. Most regular people simply would never watch the hifalutin art films that get the lion’s share of the accolades—while insiders look down on the Spider-Man movies that real people like.

You know what it reminds me of? The Dark Crystal, where the culture is split into the evil monsters (mainstream tastes) and the ineffectual, sloth–like monks (the Hollywood elites).

If only there was such a simple—and cinematic—solution!

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