This year’s Oscar telecast hosts have been announced. Anne Hathaway and James Franco.
Is there a point to what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is doing? No doubt the telecast has a need to attract younger viewers, which is why they added an additional five pictures to the best picture list last year.
And I suspect that’s why they picked Hugh Jackman to host last year. The popular X-Men and Wolverine movies make him a known quantity. We also learned he could sing and isn’t bad at comedy.
The year before we got Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. They were awful, but Jackman was surprisingly good. Not Oscar telecast good but not bad and not deserving of a repeat performance.
That leads us to this year’s picks. Franco isn’t close to having Jackman’s GQ looks, and I suspect doesn’t have his singing and dancing talent. But Jackman surprised me there, too.
Does he have the sex appeal to attract younger female viewers? I doubt it.
Hathaway is drop-dead gorgeous. She won’t be hard to look at for three hours. But most younger viewers can see all of Hathaway they want — if you get my drift — in the R-rated Love and Other Drugs.
Does she attract younger males? No.
Plus, Franco is an odds-on favorite to be a Best Actor in a Motion Picture nominee for 127 Hours, and Hathaway has an outside chance for an nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture for Love and Other Drugs.
Is it wise to have nominees as hosts?
Great comedy material could come from that and from juxtaposing bits from their two films. In his, he has to last 127 hours, and she’s addicted to sex with a drug salesman who specializes in Viagra. But that’s a bit mature for a mainstream TV network.
There are ways to — for lack of a better word — youngify the Oscars. But it has to be done within the context of the purpose of the program. It is to recognize the best movies, finest performances, top writing and superior technical achievements. This is the granddaddy of not just all movie award shows but of all award shows — period. So tradition needs to be maintained.
Do you stick a mini-skirt on the Statue of Liberty so younger immigrants will feel more comfortable sneaking into this country? Or put a burkha on her? No. Some things do not need to be changed.
The Oscar telecast is one of them.
In the Oscar-nominated documentary The Fog of War, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara gave his 11 life lessons. One of them was to know your enemy. Great advice for those programming award telecasts.
If improvement is needed and if younger viewers are the goal, then you need to understand them a little better than the show’s producers have shown. Younger viewers like flash and glitz. This is the text-messaging, instant gratification generation. They are techno geeks. Fast is what they want, not slow and pondering. If change is really needed, eliminate some of the musical numbers and move more of the technical and arts achievement awards off the show.
A faster two-hour — not a three-hour — telecast might be better.
The best improvement the Academy could make is to make it fun again. Go back to the tradition of having a great comedian host the show. Even bringing back David Letterman is preferable to Franco, Hathaway, Jackman, Martin or Baldwin.
Conan O’Brien anyone?
If improving the telecast is the aim, the network and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seems to have — again — missed the target.