Really, “fixing” the Academy Awards is very, very simple. But every year, the Academy turns this process into Mola Ram’s Temple of Doom ritual killing. When we say, “Make the Oscars entertaining” the Academy hears, “Make the Oscars an eleven-hour montage punctuated by moments of self-congratulation and banal banter while shoe-horning in bits meant to communicate hip youthfulness but really only show how un-hip and not-youthful the Academy actually is”.
This isn’t rocket science. Here’s an easy-peasy way to make the Oscars resemble something that might have once been semi-tolerable for five seconds, instead of something that is so unbearably unwatchable that the viewers-at-home are attempting to surgically remove their own eyeballs by hour three with sword-shaped toothpicks from the drinks table. (Note to Oscar party hosts: Never include sword-shaped toothpicks at your drinks table for this very reason.)
1) Hire an entertaining host. I don’t care if we’ve never heard of them and/or if they’re not super famous or easily recognizable to the general public. Just hire someone who is truly ENTERTAINING. Might I suggest Donald Glover and Danny Pudi from NBC’s Community? Both are comedians, both are funny and entertaining, and both are YOUNG and NOT WHITE which solves two huge problems you’ve been plagued with recently.
2) Be prepared to eat it. Sorry Academy, but it’s more fun for us at home to watch the host burn you. If you want to spend all night high-fiving each other for how awesome your lives are, great. But I don’t want to watch that. If you expect people at home to tune in, realize that we don’t like you. As individuals, we like some of you because you entertain us and we may feel that in some way you enrich us. But taken as a whole, we think you’re ridiculous. What you do is silly and yet you make fantastic sums of money doing it and you lead lives that in no way bear any resemblance to our own. OF COURSE we want to see you get taken down a peg. Get over it and just eat it. It’s more fun for us. And we’re the ones paying your bills.
3) Just say no. No musical numbers. No montages except for the In Memoriam. No bits. No banter. The show should be contained to one sheet that should look like this:
After the monologue, no more bits. If you’re hiring hosts who are genuinely entertaining, they’ll be able to patter about what’s just happened or who slipped up, etc, without it taking a lot of time or feeling forced. Truly entertaining people can JUST ENTERTAIN. Take Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law. They’re genuinely charming, funny guys—natural entertainers. They succeed as presenters because they can riff together. Presenter choices should be less to do with “presence” and more to do with “is this going to be pleasing to watch”. Stick to the rule of “natural entertainers” and say NO to everything else. You worry about the solemnity of the occasion, of cheapening what is the night that we gather to celebrate the best in film, but if you put the focus of the show on ACTUALLY CELEBRATING FILM and not pandering to your own sense of self-importance, that takes care of itself.
Three simple steps, Academy. Just three steps to producing a truly enjoyable Oscar broadcast. You’ve got to backseat your ego to get there but most of us have to backseat our egos EVERY DAY to do our jobs, so I think you can handle it for ONE NIGHT.
Here are some pictograms explaining how I felt about the fashion on Oscar Night 2011.