Tuesday, March 01, 2011
The Motion Picture Academy has got to figure out what it wants. Trying to straddle the line between stature and hip isn’t working. The end result is that is the show is COP ROCK. You can’t have it both ways.
You can’t have Justin Timberlake make “Banksy” jokes one minute and cart out Kirk Douglas the next. You can’t do a tribute to Lena Horne and let Gwyneth Paltrow anywhere near an orchestra.
As long as they maintain essentially the same format they will remain as uncool as Members Only jackets. That's just a fact. It makes no difference who they get to host. And boy they’ve tried everybody. Ellen DeGeneres. Whoopi Goldberg, for godsakes! Three times! Even Wile E. Coyote stopped using the Acme rocket launcher after it blew up in his face twice.
This year the plan was to just let two hot young movie stars host. They didn’t have to be funny. They didn’t have to dance. Considering James Franco, they didn’t even have to be awake. But even if I was 20 and the world’s biggest Anne Hathaway fan, why would I think it was a big deal to see her host a stodgy awards show when I can rent a movie and see her naked for a half hour?
As last night's ratings and reviews revealed, the audience does want them to be funny and entertaining (who knew?). Eight costume changes and a couple of joints aren’t enough. Also, and this is where they both struggled, the audience wants to feel that the hosts are in command. They can move things along, they can ad lib if they have to, they can handle unforeseen situations (and those happen on live TV… or at least you hope). Anne and James were two first-time skydivers pushed out of planes. Not their fault. They’d never done it before.
So the Academy has to make a commitment. If they really want to capture the young audience then just turn the Oscars into the MTV Awards. Have Howard Stern fly in as Fartman. Cut to a shot of Helena Bonham Carter in the audience and super the words: Lady Gaga. Bag the editing, costume design, and sound awards. Do those at a dinner hosted by the guy who played McLovin’. Keep any category that NYU students can win. Show classic movie montages that only go back to 1997. Give the lifetime achievement award to Marisa Tomei. Have Justin Bieber host. No orchestra. Hire a D.J. If you want to use Anne Hathaway, fine. Just have her dry hump Amy Winehouse. Hold the ceremony at the House of Blues or the Skybar.
And if you don’t want to do that, then go the other direction. Make the show as elegant and glamorous as you can. Hire pros like Alec Baldwin or Steve Martin to host. Celebrate great stars from the past like Kirk Douglas because they are national treasures that soon will be gone. Have security stop Russell Brand at the door. Embrace your history and tradition and don’t run from it. Discontinue the silly practice of having ten Best Picture nominees. It’s schmuck bait and everyone knows it. Return dignity and class to the ceremony. And who knows? Maybe someday dignity and class will be considered cool. And when that day comes, you don't want to be stuck with Chelsea Handler hosting.
By Ken Levine at 6:54 AM