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Oscar Ceremony Changes, and a Bit of Profundity

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored this year’s Oscar contenders at its annual Nominees Luncheon Feb.7 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. 115 nominees from 24 categories gathered at noon for the traditional pre-Academy Awards fete.

The big news was the announcement that the awards show itself will see a different format from years past. Some winners will not go on stage to pick up their awards but nominees will sit together in the auditorium while a presenter goes among them to announce the winner and hand over the Oscar. In other categories all five nominees will go on stage before being told who has won. The traditional system will be used as well.

In additional news, ABC has signed a deal with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to continue broadcasting the ceremony until at least 2014.

It was also announced that 12-time Oscar telecast producer Gil Cates will keep a blog for the next three weeks leading up to the big show on February 27. He began with a surprising display of insight:

    I love producing the Oscars and I would like to tell you why.

    First, I should tell you that not every producer feels the same way. In fact, I can assure you that some other Oscar producers have inquired about my sanity for repeatedly returning to the challenge.

    Even a great hero of mine, the legendary film director Federico Fellini, asked me why I would want to come back again and again. As we walked together across the Oscar rehearsal stage to inspect the position where the great man was to accept an honorary Oscar in 1992, he abruptly stopped and looked at me as he absorbed the cacophony and seeming anarchy of near final set, house, lighting, camera and other preparations: “You do it because you love the circus,” he said.

    And he was right. He knew that I have loved the circus since I was a boy. Early in my show business career, I reveled in producing television specials featuring famous circuses from all around the world. To understand why I love producing the Oscars, you need to realize that the Oscar telecast is the biggest circus in the world.

    Every Oscar show reflects what is going on in the world during that year. I believe that anthropological scholars studying our civilization in the future will find no better way to determine the people we are and the society we live in than by viewing the Annual Academy Awards broadcasts. They will see the kinds of movies we watch, the clothes we wear, the way we talk to each other, what makes us laugh or cry, and plenty more.

Perhaps this underlies the show’s widespread appeal.

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About Eric Olsen

  • dbcooper

    I’m not quite sure why I enjoy the Oscar’s broadcast so much. It’s sort of like the Super Bowl I suppose, complete with extra cheese and unexpected cameos. I grew up during the 1970s, and would religously watch the program as such great films as The Godfather, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Annie Hall received multiple awards. The last few years, the program has become rather stale. Unless the favored film is a huge blockbuster (Titanic), the ratings are mediocre these days. There are so many award programs diluting the bluster, but the Oscars to this day humbles such anti-Hollywood types as Sean Penn and Johnny Depp. Changing the format in such a radical matter is likely fueled by its declining ratings. I watch the Oscars program for nostalgic reasons. I will be curious to see how such a radical transformation will play.

  • dietdoc

    Eric Olsen writes:

    [Gil Cates says]

    “I believe that anthropological scholars studying our civilization in the future will find no better way to determine the people we are and the society we live in than by viewing the Annual Academy Awards broadcasts.”

    Reply: I personally believe that statement is absurd. If the annual parade of Oscar awards says anything about our society it is that we are not very picky about who we chose to promote to “celebrity.” But, again, that’s just me. And, with further introspection, maybe it does say something about “the people we are.”

    Cheers,

    Ron

  • Shark

    “…Fellini, asked me why I would want to come back again and again. As we walked together across the Oscar rehearsal stage…”

    Shark Blogs his opinion of the Oscars:

    When I was hanging out with Orson Welles, he asked me, “Shark, do you like watching the oscars?”

    I said, “Hang on, Orca, [our nickname for the Big One] I’m talking to Ingmar right now; he’s sharing a story with me and Kurosawa.”

    “Akira,” I said, “pass me the teapot — and Ingmar… please continue…”

  • Shark

    re: “…anthropological scholars studying our civilization in the future will find no better way to determine the people we are and the society we live in…”

    Ron, I agree; the man’s full of shit.

    My opinion — TWO WORDS:

    Pez.

    Dispensers.

  • Eric Olsen

    I agree Cates’s statement is a bit hyperbolic, but I also think there is truth to it, especially if one compares Oscar broadcasts over the years, the changes and commonalities could be very instructive.

    And if the producer of 12 Oscar broadcasts can’t name-drop, who can?

    DB, I agree nostalgia — the long line from the excitement and glamor of a still-young industry to the stars of today — is a big part of the appeal.

  • http://www.rodneywelch.blogspot.com/ Rodney Welch

    Cates is just blowing smoke. I suppose you could discover a few things about American life by looking at, say, the 1962 Oscar telecast, but I doubt it would be anything you don’t already know. I doubt it would offer much in the way of unique information. Individual movies, TV shows and popular songs would say much more.

  • Eric Olsen

    but that’s part of the beauty of it: you get significant snippets of the movies (especially those with multiple noms), music, various other performances. I think much could be learned by viewing even one broadcast from each decade, and certainly from viewing them all in aggregate. I agree he overstated his case, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t truth behind it.

  • http://www.thebmrant.com Matt Egan

    I don’t like the new format. Why screw with it?

  • http://www.thebmrant.com Matt Egan

    BTW—Don Cheadle in Hotel Rwanda is head and shoulders better than Jamie Foxx in Ray. No knock on Ray, but its just a good impersonation. Cheadle has the harder job.

  • dbcooper

    I think Foxx will win Best Actor fairly easily for multiple reasons making it a fairly safe bet.

    Emotionally, I hope to see Scorsese finally receive the Director’s Award for The Aviator and I would hope Freeman wins Supporting Actor for Million Dollar Baby. I admire both of these talents and will be mainly watching for these two categories.

  • Eric Olsen

    I actually enjoy being about a year behind at any given time, I can apprciate the Awards show with an abstract purity. The only one I’ve seen so far in any of the major categories is Eternal Sunshine, and the three animated nominees, of course – did just pick up Lost In Translation though! pretty jazzed about that.

  • http://www.thebmrant.com Matt

    you and me both, Eric. If it ain’t out on DVD, there’s about a 99% chance I haven’t seen it.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Eric,

    It may seem late, but it’s not. I put this up at Advance.net where hopefully millions of people will love and adore your every word.

    – Thank you. Temple

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks a million, dude