Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Final thoughts on the 2013 Oscars

Thanks to everyone for your comments on my Oscar review. A few thoughts, clarifications, rebuttals, concessions, and miscellaneous crap.

First off, it’s great to hear from you even if you disagree with me (as long as you leave a name. There were a few anonymous comments that were just so stupid I assume the authors didn’t know their names.) Some were angry that I didn’t share their point-of-view. To them I say, it’s a friggin’ award show review. An admittedly bitchy, snarky award show recap. As the great Larry Gelbart once said:

If what you're writing isn't likely to offend or annoy anyone at all, go back and start again.

So it comes with the territory. Seth MacFarlane would make that argument as well, but more on that later. If I dislike fifteen things that’s fifteen chances to think I’m an idiot. Of course, I find people take issue with me even if I like something. I got hammered by several of you for liking Barbra Streisand. When I wrote a glowing review of ZERO DARK THIRTY some readers accused me of condoning torture.

I have two objectives when I write these reviews. 1) To entertain. Whether you agreed with my review or not, were you amused? My favorite movie critic is Anthony Lane in THE NEW YORKER. There are many times I wonder if he and I saw the same movie but damn I enjoy his writing. And 2) To be fair. I’m just as happy or happier to say I liked something. The reviews are harder to make funny, but I’ll take that any day to thoroughly enjoy a program.  I don't condone torture, by the way.

On to specifics:

The best line about the Oscarcast from anybody came from Carl Reiner.

This is what he tweeted last night:

I was so excited to discover I was not in the in memoriam!

One comment I saw on another site made a great point.  Was it really necessary to have the First Lady announce the Best Picture?  How weird would it have been had Michelle Obama had to announce ZERO DARK THIRTY or DJANGO UNCHAINED?   Future Oscarcasts might want to avoid this potentially awkward situation.

Seth MacFarlane. You were sharply divided on this topic. Right off the bat I will concede this: He was not worse than James Franco. It’s quite possible no one could be.

And if you liked him, great. I’m glad you were entertained.

Some claimed I was already prejudiced against him. That’s partly true. But what I liked about the idea of him hosting was that he was a wild card and there was the possibility that the show could be crazy unpredictable epic fun. So I was rooting for him. By the end of the monologue those hopes were dashed.

Many who disagreed with me accused me of being old fashioned, unwilling to accept change, etc. That’s the common charge whenever I don’t like anything. “This chicken is dry.” “Oh sure. Just because it’s not the way Colonel Sanders made chicken in 1964 you don’t like it.”

Go back and read my review from last year. You’ll see how much I enjoyed Billy Crystal’s trip down Cobweb Lane. My problem with Seth wasn’t that he was edgy or topical. It was his judgment. Although a few things scored, most of his material did not. In fairness, I put some of the blame on the producers. These are the Oscars. They are supposed to celebrate Hollywood’s highest achievements. It is supposed to be an elegant glamorous sophisticated affair. That’s why everyone needs two days and three stylists to dress up. “We Saw Your Boobs” is not the right production number for an event that strives to be classy. MTV Movie Awards? Sure.  But not the Oscars.

Make no mistake -- the motion picture royalty sitting in that auditorium take themselves VERY VERY VERY seriously. You can needle them a little as long as it’s in good fun and the person doing the needling is an accepted member of their exclusive club, but if you start really taking potshots you will bomb. Ask Chris Rock. His monologue was hilarious and scathing. You could hear crickets in the hall. So Jews-running-Hollywood jokes were destined to fail horribly, which they did. Seth couldn’t predict that? The producers couldn’t? Poor judgment.

Tina Fey & Amy Poehler managed to be biting yet respectful enough to pull it off at the Golden Globes before essentially the same audience. Review my review. I don’t hate all hosts.

Part of my issue was that Seth was inexperienced. I give him credit for having the balls to go out there, although low self esteem has never seemed to be one of his big problems. But this is the biggest show in front of the largest audience in the world. Over a billion people. Would you take a good college athlete and let him make his professional debut by being the starting pitcher for game seven of the World Series or by being the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl? That’s what this is. So Seth was given a near-impossible task – although he knew that going in.

It’s not only a difficult job; it’s a thankless one. If a billion people are watching, half of them are making fun of the show. They’re sitting in their living rooms goofing on the dresses and the speeches and especially the host. And now with Facebook and Twitter the entire world is one living room. Tell me you don’t do that yourself. Oscar hosts have to have thick skin. Even personalities who are beloved get skewered. Ask Jon Stewart, David Letterman, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Hugh Jackman. So why do it? Two reasons: the exposure obviously. A billion more people know who Seth MacFarlane is today than did on Saturday. And secondly, if you do manage to somehow pull it off you are an overnight smash. Billy Crystal’s career skyrocketed after he successfully hosted the Oscars. It’s a high risk but very high reward proposition. And here’s the thing: You’re expected to hit a home run. If you get mixed reviews (like most hosts including Seth) that’s considered a strike out. There are no singles or doubles. It's brutal.

The thing I’ve noticed that great hosts manage to do is react spontaneously to the events of the night. When Oscar winner Jack Palance did push-ups on the stage Crystal used that as a running gag all night. The message it sends is: this guy is truly funny and comfortable enough in this role that he can stray from the teleprompter. Again, Tina & Amy were able to do this. Seth did not. It’s understandable. This was his first time.

And finally, people accused me of criticizing him for taking shots at people when I was doing the same thing. Uh, writing a blog piece and hosting the Oscars are two very different venues, don’t you think?

So who should host the Oscars? As I said, he should be someone already embraced by the community. And it wouldn’t hurt if viewers in the country know and like him too. Having a genuine love for movies would also be nice.  A few of you had some good ideas. Jerry Seinfeld for one. I liked Hugh Jackman but I sense the pressure of the assignment was not fun and he’s turned down all further requests. But how about George Clooney? Handsome, personable, funny. I’m sure he’s been approached. And here’s my first choice: After seeing him host the JIMMY KIMMELL SHOW, Matt Damon is the man! So much charm and ease and command. I thought to myself, “there’s a reason this dude is a movie star.”

Nothing would please me more than next year to say in my review that Matt Damon was the best Oscar host ever, Anne Hathaway looked much healthier, Seth MacFarlane was hilarious as a presenter, Steven Spielberg deserved those two Oscars, and the tribute to VOLUNTEERS was incredibly touching.


People are pointing to the improved ratings of the Oscars as vindication for Seth.  That's probably partially true.  BUT... as opposed to past years, six of the nine Best Picture nominees have grossed over $100 million.  So as opposed to past years when no one saw the movies in contention, folks had a rooting interest in the candidates this go-round.  And for the most part, the actors nominated were names moviegoers knew.   Add to that the whole Ben Affleck directing snub and you had a little intrigue going on.   So it's hard to pinpoint just why more people were watching this year.  


Kirk DG said...

Ken. I hadn't thought of Matt Damon. Brilliant. The Kimmel kidnapping was hilarious so Matt would have a chance to be my favourite host since Billy Crystal in his prime.

Scooter Schechtman said...

I didn't watch the Oscar program though I got a good idea from the professionally outraged news pundits, who complained that everything is politicized (while politicizing everything).
"Unless that delightful Billy Crystal is hosting!"--Bart S.

Carol said...

Neil Patrick Harris. I think he's got the exact qualities to be a good host. He knows how to poke fun at something without it being mean-spirited, and he is extremely charming, talented, and likable.

I think the Oscar host especially should be kind of 'old fashioned' for the reasons you said. It's supposed to be classy, not 'edgy'.

I didn't really watch much of it, but I think, based on the reviews I've read, that Instead of altering his material to suit the venue, McFarlane used material that wasn't appropriate for the venue.

Zack Bennett said...
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The Curmudgeon said...

And I'm so relieved to find out that you're against torture after all....

In an effort to increase its audience, the Academy engaged a host known for crude humor. Then people were offended that the host delivered same. Bodily functions and body parts are the first things that babies laugh at -- we allegedly build from there.

Too many do not.

But do we have to pander to them?

Zack Bennett said...

I'd take a serious look at Jennifer Lawrence to host the show.

Looking at the way she handled the red carpet, the cutaways in the crowd, her acceptance speech (after falling down), the press room, and all the post-Oscar TV shows... she's extremely comfortable in her own skin, naturally funny in those live settings, quick-witted, not to mention attractive, and currently one of the brightest stars (if not THE brightest) of her generation.

I think she already commands the respect of Hollywood, garnering two Best Actress noms and one win, without being at-all intimidated by it. She's the star of an enormous 4-film franchise that's just heating up. Plus, she'd bring that young audience that the Academy is so desperate to get (as evidenced by the choice to cast Seth MacFarlane as host and rebrand the show from 'The 85th Annual Academy Awards' to simply 'The Oscars').

Much like the 2004 DNC convention was Obama's coming-out party, I think this year's Oscars really introduced the world to Jennifer Lawrence beyond her own fan base, and letting her host next year would be a good opportunity to let her show the world what she's made of.

Pizzagod said...

I still think Seth was fine-and could have been a true train wreck the first time out. I'm probably a bit more familiar with his body of work (from what you've written) and I still see a lot of awe for Hollywood and show business, although he's quick to gore any sacred oxen that may be unfortunate enough to be around.

Matt Damon wouldn't be bad-Jerry Seinfeld would probably pass, he's a perfectionist, and there are just too many variables in the telecast, plus, who needs the headaches?

I thought your review was tough, I disagreed, but so what? You're always an entertaining read, and that's what I'm here for.

Geoff said...

I'm sure Ken meant "He or she should be..."

PatGLex said...

I didn't have time to comment yesterday but Seth lost me at Star Trek. Thankfully I was watching on the DVR and could fast forward.

Have to agree with Matt Damon. He's been in the Academy system with enough movies to let people be comfortable with him. And the Kimmel show was hilarious!

Also would take Tina and Amy, and NPH. [And Clooney, if he'd ever accept.]

I would have accepted Anne Hathaway solo (I liked her when she hosted), until her Oscar acceptance speech. I was hoping for the spontaniety of the Golden Globes acceptance.

Zack's comment above -- brilliant, but I don't think she'd do it, at least not for another decade....

Rory W. said...

Enough with the "A billion people watched the Oscars" malarky. This claim has been debunked so many times, I'm really surprised to see Ken repeat it.

Even if there has been some growth since this 2005 New Yorker article, it's still not a billion.


"But the worldwide audience for the Oscars isn’t even close to a billion, as a little common sense makes plain. In the United States, 43.5 million people watched the show last [2004] year. That’s a lot, but it’s 956.5 million short of a billion. Can the show really pick up that many viewers in countries that most of the films and people being honored are not from, and where the speeches are in a language that most of the population does not speak?"

Anonymous said...

The Oscars isn't watched by anywhere NEAR a billion people. I know you read Mark Evanier - here's what he says:

"Nope, not even close to that. The actual ratings show us that the Academy Awards show reaches somewhere between 40 and 60 million viewers per year in this country. No statistics have ever been compiled as to how many watch worldwide — or at least if they have been compiled, they haven’t been released. But let’s be logical. It’s an American show in English and almost wholly about American movies. Is that likely to get a few hundred million viewers in Belgium? Or Peru? I’d be very surprised if the total viewership outside the United States even equalled the total viewership inside the United States."

RSaunders said...

Did you have a favorite joke? Mine was the Kardashian joke that he nearly ruined by saying he thought they had taken it out.

Daddy Background said...

"It's not only a difficult job, but a thankless one." My tweet from Oscar night:

Capt. Kirk at the Oscars! Funny because for years now, being the host has been Hollywood's version of the Kobyashi Maru. #nowin #Oscars

Johnny Walker said...

I do think that being an Oscar host requires stagecraft (and the ability to be funny and likeable).

Billy Crystal
Bob Hope
Johnny Carson
Steve Martin
Whoopi Goldberg
Ellen Degeneres

The one thing they all have in common? They all have done year's worth of comedy in front of a live audience.

Ok, admittedly it didn't work out so great for David Letterman, Chevy Chase or Chris Rock, but Ken has a good reason for the latter not working out so well.

Plus, I guess it just works better when they're also good as uniting crowds instead of dividing them.

Either way, I'd certainly trust someone who is comfortable and experienced at ad-libbing infront of a live crowd than someone who isn't.

Jerry Seinfeld would be good. Garry Shandling would probably be great, too. I think Larry David would probably be too divisive.

Neil Patrick Harris apparently breaks my rule: I don't know where he learned his stagecraft, but there's no question that he'd make a great host.

PeterM said...

I don't condone torture, by the way.

Suuure. I've got two words for you:



After "Room Service," though, all is forgiven. :-)

Bill Jones said...

"Was it really necessary to have the First Lady announce the Best Picture?"

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but here is my theory about that. I think the Obama Administration thought that since there was a a chance that LINCOLN would be Best Picture, they could use that moment as a great "symbolic" moment, paralleling Obama's own election and reminding everyone what a great story his is, etc. etc.

Admit it: had LINCOLN won, the media stories the next day -- and future media coverage of the 2013 Oscars and/or the Obama Administration -- almost certainly would have pointed out symbolism, the parallels, etc., of LINCOLN being announced as Best Picture from the White House. Which, from the standpoint of a presidential administration looking to firm its "legacy," is invaluable.

Actually, don't call me a conspiracy theorist; just call me a political operative. (I do live in Washington, DC, after all.)

Mister Charlie said...

I want Bart Simpson to host next year.

Bob Gassel said...

Bill, do you really think Michelle Obama would want to give the Oscar to a Republican?

RJ Hope said...

Ken, your post from yesterday was fair and entertaining.

Some people take things too seriously, like their life is hinged on always agreeing with their point of view. Some of the comments attest to that.

As for a host in the future, how about the guy you mentioned yesterday? Daniel Day - Lewis seems like an intriguing choice.

Steve said...

Ken, I can appreciate that the Oscars are supposed to be a "classy" affair (and I agree, it should be) but I think you're missing the joke here. The whole point of the "we saw your boobs" song was part of the joke that Shatner came from the future to tell Seth he sucked BECAUSE he had done a number like that. I also don't get what was so "classless" about the song... it mentioned several actresses who had gone topless in movies. This is considered tasteless to point out? Why is it considered "brave" when a woman shows her boobs in movies? It's not brave, it's meant to be shocking or even titilating. (The website Mr. Skin exists all because of these "brave" women.)

Michael said...

Gazzoo, I don't know Bill's answer, but here's mine: Michelle Obama would give the Oscar to a Republican. But I bet Ann Romney wouldn't have given one to a Democrat.

John said...

I think part of the problem with finding a good Oscar host today is based on what we find the bounds of acceptable humor are, and what bounds the show's hosts are allowed on network television.

Go back 40 years -- you had the Friar's Club roasts, and you had the Dean Martin Friar's Club roasts -- the bastardized child of the original, performed by comics who could be funny, but they couldn't be funny in the parameters NBC allowed. Today, you have millions more people who would be comfortable with far more risque humor and targets, but network TV still has its limits.

So a comedian today who may have made their name with humor that can't be aired on ABC is asked to host the Oscars on ABC and comes across as either snarky (trying to get around the restrictions and do the type of comedy their fans are expecting) or boring, because they stay within the parameters of what is allowed and people today want edgier stuff (you can safely assume whoever The Onion's Tweeter of that Quvenzhane Wallis line was, they weren't upset that Seth MacFarlane was stepping over the boundaries of good taste with his schtick).

Add to that the problem Ken mentioned in that the Academy crowd wants their show host to focus on a certain type of humor that makes fun of the people they enjoy making fun of -- comedy that takes shots at them in anything but the most gentlest of fashions also irks them, even at the same time that they enjoy edgy stuff directed at people outside the film community. So even a comedian who brings his or her 'A' game as host is going to be limited on what he of she can direct his or her 'A' game at if they want to get the gig again next year.

Dan in Missouri said...

I thought the Oscars this year was very entertaining. Seth did a good job. I think he pulled in the younger demographic as well. I'm not part of that demographic, by the way!
Dan in Missouri

Tom Quigley said...
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Tom Quigley said...

Ken, haven't yet had the chance to read your entire post, but a couple of comments on what I did read:

(1) I'm sure that if those kooky-crazy-wild-and-wacky accountants at PriceWaterhouseCoopers knew that the winner was going to be ZERO DARK THIRTY or DJANGO UNCHAINED, they would have let the producers know ahead of time by telling them "OK, we can't let you know who won, but we may have a problem with the first lady announcing the winner," in which case a backup plan may have been ready to go. After all, Jack Nicholson did have have an envelope naming the winner too.

(2) Didn't think that Seth MacFarlane did that bad a job. I think he started to get cold feet when some of his jokes began to bomb, and he stood there with a look on his face that told you he was thinking "OK, what do I say now to get this thing back on track?" He started to seem almost apologetic as the night wore on. I guess you have to have the traits of a good warmup comedian to host the Oscars: keep the audience entertained and interested (both those inside the theater and those watching on TV) during the slow portions of the broadcast, and be ready to do a 180 degree turn if they don't react like you expected or something unanticipated happens. Would like to see Jimmy Fallon host it next year, or some year.

(3) I'm glad to hear that you don't condone having to listen to William Shatner sitting there on a recreated STAR TREK set blubbering away for 20 minutes. That to me was absolute torture!

danrydell said...

I didn't mind Seth, but I think that's because I was really expecting him to be much smarmier. So I guess it was OK.

Deciding he should host was a much worse decision than most of what Seth did during the show. As you pointed out, he has no hosting experience, doesn't really know how to work it.

No Billy C Again said...

I think it was needed to bring it into the current century. They just garnered their best rating in six years. Look, he owns the 18-40 demographic every other day of the week through Fox and syndication. I found this tweet he posted from Crutnacker rather fitting.

"Why Seth MacFarlane's Oscars were mean spirited and misogynistic, coming up next after our review of the worst dressed women."

Wayne said...

Next year, how about a team of past hosts? Ladies and gentlemen, Seth MacFarlane and Anne Hathaway! Then we'd have the right balance of fake humility.

Johnny Walker said...

Also, not sure why it would have been awkward for Michelle Obama to announce Django Unchained as Best Picture? (Not that it was going to win in a million years.) As for Zero Dark Thirty, it didn't really paint her administration in a bad light (the film specifically talks about how they can no longer torture people -- but they still managed to track down Bin Laden. Did I miss something?)

Given how the Obamas never lose their cool over anything, I'm sure she could have handled announcing Birth Of A Nation with absolute tact.

RCP said...

Although I don't always agree with you, Ken, your reviews and daily posts are always entertaining/interesting. What an unbearable world it would be if we all agreed with each other all of the time.

I like the idea of George Clooney - charming, affable, wouldn't take himself (or the awards for that matter) too seriously. Matt Damon (who can also be very funny, as he was on 30 Rock). Tina and Amy - all excellent candidates.

Michael said...
"Gazzoo, I don't know Bill's answer, but here's mine: Michelle Obama would give the Oscar to a Republican. But I bet Ann Romney wouldn't have given one to a Democrat."

I bet you're right, Michael.

Charles H. Bryan said...

To anyone's knowledge, do the Academy members or Board ever complain to the producers or to ABC about the show (likewise for the Golden Globes)? Do you know of people who say "I'm not dressing up to go that disaster, especially if I'm going to be mocked for my attire, my make-up/facial hair, my career, and/or my choice of sex partners"?

And how do the non-televised ceremonies (SAG, WGA, etc.)structure their evenings? They must be finished in 30 minutes. Maybe five?

Lance said...

I thought Seth did fine. Honestly, is there a Hollywood comedy from last year that was funnier than he was?

But here's a bit I didn't expect:

At the beginning of the show my folks (just this side of 80 years old), were asking who he was.

At the end of the show they wanted to know what time Family Guy was on.

I guess my parents liked him, too.

DJ said...

After all, Jack Nicholson did have have an envelope naming the winner too.

Wasn't that because the winner of the Oscar gets to keep the envelope and card as a souvenir?

Mr. Hollywood said...

Best news of the day: MacFarlane tweeted that he WOULD NOT host next year.
Sad that in our world today, class and wit have disappeared, never to come back.
Good choices for Oscar host: Matt Damon. Neil Patrick Harris. Tina & Amy.
MacFarlane can join Judd Apatow as two of the least funny people on the planet.

Tom Quigley said...


You're right, Nicholson's envelope was meant to be given to the winner as a memento. Hoewever, any time you have a remote hookup like they did from the White House, you better have a contingency plan just in case something happens you didn't expect -- even the loss of a satellite link could have sent producers scrambling.

Brule Eagan said...

Ken, you mentioned Billy Crystal reacting to a situation on stage. I remember when Johnny hosted one year. Just as the show was starting, there was a brief glimpse of the red carpet outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion -- that was upside-down. For a few seconds, the image on TVs the world over was upside-down. Johnny commented to the effect that "all of Hollywood is topsy-turvy with anticipation". You could tell who in the audience was watching the monitors.

Mark Fearing said...

I think that Hollywood takes itself too seriously anyway. And when you consider that the majority, the vast majority of the public does not watch the Oscars, it becomes even sillier to pretend that this is world peace negotiations importance going on. I liked his irreverence in the portions I watched. I think the romanticizing about Bob Hope and the 'golden' days is silly. Bob Hope had his entertaining moments, but talk about a corporate shill. I would have to say in all seriousness he hasn't been relevant comedy wise since 1965. I'm not saying he wasn't funny, that he isn't enjoyable. I still enjoy several of his movies. But that he didn't resonate with the broader culture around him past a certain point. Sort of like comic strips these days.

craig m said...

When Pixar's Mark Andrews accepted his award in a kilt, I could just see Billy Crystal shouting one-liners from his couch.

Predicted 2014 post-Oscars headline: "After brilliant hosting performance, Gottried weighing Academy's 'Host for Life' offer"

Max Clarke said...

Matt Damon is a solid choice. He's smart and funny, and he could bring in lots of stars for the skits.

Jimmy Fallon would be good, also. Nice guy, quick on his feet, the song/dance numbers would be good.

Courtney Suzanne said...

I think hosting the Oscars is a really difficult proposition. You have to appeal to everyone, not be too edgy or to bland, be able to improvise and also keep things moving.

NPH is probably my all-time favorite host, but if he is unavailable, you'd have to pick someone with experience in front of a live audience, the ability to improvise with ease, and (these days) be a triple threat (sing-dance-act). I think that's a tough bill to fit.

Joe in DC said...

Ken, maybe it’s my short attention span, but I really wish they would just cut the 20-minute opening number and get to the awards. Aren’t we tuned in for those just a wee bit more than we are to see just how funny (or not funny) this year’s opening bit is going to be? The show is supposed to be about the movies, not the host.

On NPH: For what it’s worth (like he cares), I generally like him, but it’s starting to feel as if he’s overexposed. A little can go a long way. He’s definitely talented, but something in his presentation comes across (to me) as, “I'm good-looking and talented and I know it; don’t you wish you were me?” (And you just know he would, at some point, have to take his shirt off to remind us how fit he is, and then have the cameras cut to his husband to show how attractive he is...)

...OK, maybe that’s just jealousy talking there.

Brian said...

Hi Ken, While I do disagree with a great deal of your review, I think the critical point where you are wrong is the premise that the Oscars are "classy". They are not. It is the most shameless, money and ego driven self-congratulatory night of the year, but we accept that because we want to see stars doing things that they don't normally do... and we enjoy the comedy of the host. Honestly, I thought Seth was hilarious and yes, he is my friend and I work with him, but I have been a comedy writer long enough to know when something is funny or not... the same as you and every other comedy writer out there... we just all have different opinions and that is the way it should be.

I enjoyed Seth's monolog and thought he was damn funny and I don't think I have enjoyed an Oscars that much since Johnny Carson hosted in the late 1970's or Billy Crystal's very first Oscars. But I don't fault you for not agreeing with me... hell, every time we write a script and read it at a table or have it performed in front of an audience, we think that everything we wrote was funny and then a couple of hundred strangers come in and prove us wrong. Which only goes to show that no one has the corner on deciding what is funny, certainly not me. But I know I was laughing in my living room Sunday night.

We all have different opinions and perspectives and that is what makes life interesting... but I guess my whole point in writing this comment is that of all the things the Oscars are, the one thing they are most definitely NOT is classy... :) Brian Scully

tb said...

The nice thing about Seinfeld is his ability to be funny without having to humiliate someone. I get tired of the "pot shots", really.
There's plenty of other ways to get laughs without stooping to that stuff. Oh, and I, too, look forward to the dazzling, emotional tribute to "Volunteers" next year! haha

Johnny Walker said...
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Johnny Walker said...

Parting thought: If Larry Gelbart is to be believed, then you should be very happy that people got upset with your blog :)

Bill Jones said...

"Bill, do you really think Michelle Obama would want to give the Oscar to a Republican?"

"I don't know Bill's answer, but here's mine: Michelle Obama would give the Oscar to a Republican. But I bet Ann Romney wouldn't have given one to a Democrat."

Uh, I'm not sure how either of these posts are related to my point, which is that the potential upside from announcing LINCOLN as Best Picture would have been invaluable to the administration (and the Oscars). I'm not saying that's good or bad -- just that it's an astute political decision that didn't happen to pan out in the end (and still got the White House reasonably favorable media coverage).

This has nothing to do with whether or not a particular first lady would give actually decline to give an Oscar to someone based on whether the recipient was a Republican or Democrat, a proposition that is truly in the realm of the bizarre (or the Fox News/MSNBC viewer).

Bob Dobbs said...

Apropos of what we once, at one time, considered quality entertainment...

If anyone reading this has any juice with the Academy, why won't they rebroadcast the entire telecasts of old Oscars, at least up through the early eighties? I know the Academy has short clips on their website, but that isn't the same.

As long as I'm spitballing here, why not have a premium channel with nothing but awards shows and talk shows (Merv, Cavett, and the Carson conglomerate) from the 60s-80s?

And as far as the rest of you ya-hoos are concerned, get off of my g-damned lawn!

Jeffrey Mark said...

I think Tina and Amy together co-hosting would be pretty darn perfect next year. Pretty...pretty...pretty darn perfect. Two smartest women in Hollywood. Having the two of them host - how refreshing is that? With their great wit and sensibilities how can you miss?

Jimmy Fallon could easily hit 'em out of the park as a host...he's comfortable in his own skin, extremely likeable and is part of the new generation of "kids" running Hollywood these days. I liken him to Billy Crystal to a certain degree. Good hosting material.

George Clooney? Without a doubt could homer 'um out of the park as host but...I doubt he ever will.

For my money...Amy and Tina Oscar hosting perfection.

Michael Stoffel said...

Joel McHale for host, with the show written by Dan Harmon.

benson said...

Well, Ken, you went and did it. I'm reading this afternoon that Seth says he never wants to do it again.

Thanks a lot.

Mike Schryver said...

The problem I have is that when I try to point out how unfunny MacFarlane is, I get accused of being too easily offended.

It has nothing to do with taking offense at all! He's just not funny. A number like "We Saw Your Boobs" has no wit at all, and only has humor if you're nine years old.
In Macfarlane's world, simply making a reference to something, or making someone uncomfortable, counts as humor. Sorry, no sale.

Tallulah Morehead said...

I am delighted that you found Carl Reiner's tweet the funniest line anyone wrote about the Oscarcast, primarily becasue I've been using that joke regularly in my award show snarky reviews for 6 years now. In a few of them I opened with it, as it constituted the most important business to be dealt with first. I did not use it in my Oscar blog piece this year only because I used it two weeks ago in my SAG Awards review. See for yourself.

This is literally the third place I've seen Carl's use of my line cited as the best joke anyone has come up with on this year's Oscar show. My question is why no one found it so freakin' hilarious any of the 12 or 14 times I've used it? Why is it funnier coming from Carl? I'm 25 years older than he is.

(BTW, I am NOT accusing Carl of lifting my line. I'm sure he came up with it independently of me. I can readily accept that a comic genius like Carl Reiner, the World's Greatest Mensch, would eventually come up with the same joke I did, albeit six years later. You, on the other hand, have read some of my awards show pieces.)

Cheers, darlings.

stonedog said...

There are three audiences that the Oscar ceremony could potentially serve: the nominees/winners, the industry as a whole, and the TV viewers. Every year the show tries to find some way to please all of these audiences and fails more often than not. All the musical numbers this year because, hey, American Idol and Dancing with the Stars are hit shows, right? Cast Seth McFarlane as the host because it's a left-field, edgy choice, but then hamstring him because you don't want another Ricky Gervais. Meanwhile, you give the winners comparatively little time to make their speeches.

The Academy decided a while ago that the TV audience was the group they wanted to try and satisfy. I would prefer they focus on the nominees and winners - you know, the reason there's a ceremony to begin with - but at this point that's unrealistic.

Jeffrey Leonard said...

I heard Carl Reiner say that he thought the Matt Damon/Jimmy Kimmel kidnapping show was one of the funniest things he had seen on television in many years. He compared it to his days on the Sid Caesar show. You nailed it, Matt Damon is the guy.

Bean said...

He's not "in the club" as a movie star but Hollywood seems to love Jimmy Kimmel. How has no-one suggested him to host the Oscars? He was terrific hosting both the Emmys and the White House Correspondents Dinner last year. I will hang up and get your answer on the air, Ken.

Murray said...

Some names I'm plucking off the wall:

Patton Oswalt.

Craig Ferguson.

Patton might be too much edge, but if he's willing to rein it in a bit, I think he has more than enough talent to do so.

Hey, for improv and fast thinking, why not go with a co-host scenario of Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie? The way they handle themselves on "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" is dazzling.

Of course, these ideas and the tone of this comment section seems to be drifting away from the real purpose of a "Host". An emcee is not the headliner. S/he is only supposed to keep the proceedings moving along at a smooth and pleasant pace. The awards are supposed to be why people tune in.

Jeff Maxwell said...

I don't get it. Why is there so much pressure on the host to show up with a twenty-five minute "show" before the show. Hope & Carson - these elegant guys did ten minutes of CLEVER material and faded into the background until they were needed to move the show along. Isn't that what a host/MC is supposed to do? And they had the material and experience to ad lid for a minute when necessary. This isn't brain surgery. MacFarlane's first joke gave me hope this was going to happen, and then he had to launch into...into..into what the hell was it? It seemed like an audition gone south.

Could be Marlon Brando had the right idea: Don't show up or send in a squaw.

Janice said...

Hell, I'd love to see Carl Reiner himself host the Oscars.

Loosehead said...

In one article you say that the Oscar host doesn't say anything that a writer hasn't written for him, and in another you criticise Seth McFarlane for his material.
Ken, you can't have it both ways.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Janice: Just what I was thinking, except I was thinking Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.

Or Elaine May and Mike Nichols. :)


Eddie in Cleveland said...

I like the Matt Damon idea...I like the Jimmy Fallon idea...I like Fey/Poehler too.

Jerry Seinfeld was on an HBO comics show of some kind a couple of years ago and said he despised award shows. He said that his role is to sit in the back and make fun of the people on stage.

The other thing that struck me about MacFarlane was that he was...distracting. He laughed at his own jokes, which was uncomfortable. He clapped oddly...like a seal. (Did anyone else notice that?) After the first 20 minutes, I kept wondering what three-car wreck was coming next. And when I first walked in the room, I thought, "Hey, Donnie Osmond's hosting?!"

The Guy Playing In Short Left Field said...

"And finally, people accused me of criticizing him for taking shots at people when I was doing the same thing. Uh, writing a blog piece and hosting the Oscars are two very different venues, don’t you think?"

Disagree. Only the size of the audience is different... And with another 50-60 years under your belt as a blog writer your audience will increase, too.

Ideas for host:

Jay Leno - it's not like he's not one of "them" and on occasion he can be funny in a non-toxic way.

Neil Patrick Harris - he could carry the room and has experience.

Louie CK - just for the fun of it.

Whitney or Chelsea Handler - just for the train wreck of it all.

There are others, of course. My bet is the next year the Oscars will not be "edgy."

What they Academy really needs to do is learn how to edit. We'd all be better for it

BK said...

Mark my words, they will play it safe next year. Steve Martin, billy crystal.

R's Woman said...

For the record, Ken, I agree with RJHope2 - your review was very fair and entertaining. Great minds think alike.

I reaaaaallllly look forward to your reviews (and your posts generally).... even if I may have a different opinion from what you say in them or I think your views are a bit harsh (which I didn't think you were)... the point is, you write a blog, and it's for fun and entertainment and a good chuckle or vent!

I was surprised by how many commenters yesterday called you hypocritical, curmedgon-y and the like. Jeez! Have a little fun!

And, for the record, I agreed with you all the way (including your follow-up post here). I stopped watching the Oscars after an hour - it was painful.

Yours truly.

30+ woman in Jamaica... 1 of the "1 billion" (I guess)

David said...

Try to imagine the anti-MacFarlane howls you would be hearing if the ratings went down -- so why are there crickets when they went up? Credit where credit is due.

And every time someone says these are very, very serious people who take themselves very, very seriously, the more sympathetic I become to "We Saw Your Boobs."

Liggie said...

Another good reason for Damon? He almost never makes a bad movie. If you correlate good movie percentage to relief pitcher saves, Damon would be Mariano Riviera. The guy would bring instant credibility to the audience in and out of the theater.

Jennifer Lawrence would have to wait another year, I'd guess, as by tradition the Best Actor category gets introduced by the outgoing Best Actress winner.

Johnny Walker: Ellen Degeneres hosted in 2007 or so, but hasn't been asked to return. Not sure exactly why. Maybe a lot of people disliked her because of her homosexuality (not an insignificant issue in America)?

Another time-raving idea: as he never shows up for these things, have Woody Allen win more awards. With him not there,it's just applause, "The Academy accepts this award on behalf of Woody", more applause, move to the next award. That's a few minutes saved there.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Carl Reiner could have been among the names In Memoriam skipped, so Barbra could sing her tribute to a composer whose best film score was a knock-off of Scott Joplin.

But I hope not.

gottacook said...

Actually, Hamlisch's best film score was for Bananas a few years earlier (he'd also done Take the Money and Run).

chuckcd said...

I think Seth was watered down by the producers.
If they wanted Seth, they should have let him do his thing.

Next year have Clint Eastwood host.
He would tell them to fuck off if they don't like the job he does.

Anonymous said...

Whoever it is needs to have some actual stature in the biz. Bob Hope got his nineteen years for a reason. You couldn't wait to hear the first joke out of his mouth because you knew it was going to kill. As I've often heard said about great singers, "You don't have to worry about them." That's where you want to be with the Oscars. Whoever it is, you want to be able to sit back and relax because you know they're up to the task.

cadavra said...

My pick is Nathan Lane. He's comfortable on stage, quick on his feet, and has the experience, having hosted or co-hosted the Tonys a number of times. Plus he can be edgy with a twinkle.

Cameron R. said...

I loved watching Seth McFarlane host because it was like Ricky Gervais was invited but David Brent showed up. It was like watching an Oscar-sized, real-life version of The Office. The John Wilkes Booth joke was such shockingly bad judgement, I couldn't believe what I'd heard. But it was the thunderous silence in front of one billion people that was priceless. That moment must go down as the largest bomb, the most devaluing rejection of a human being on a stage that I have ever witnessed. Glad I was there.

Mike said...

> If you correlate good movie percentage to relief pitcher saves, Damon would be Mariano Riviera.

Promised Land would be the blown save to Bill Mueller.

Anonymous said...

The answer for best host is Ben Stiller. He's one of them. Actor and director. He created one of the best sketch shows ever so you know he could make something for that first segment. He stays current in pop culture. He's needled stars, but it is far from inappropriate. He's been funny and innovative as a presenter like when he did the Juaquin Phoenix bit.

Tomas said...

people accused me of criticizing him for taking shots at people when I was doing the same thing. Uh, writing a blog piece and hosting the Oscars are two very different venues, don’t you think?

Uh, sure, but the jokes themselves don't change. A good joke is still a good joke, regardless of the medium, and the same goes for jokes that are somewhat less than great. If you are criticizing Seth for taking shots at how people look (among other things) while doing the same thing yourself, people are naturally going to see it as hypocricy.

And with regards to future Osar hosts, I nominate Conan O'Brien.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Kimmel. Fast on his feet and in command.

Voicedude said...

Save for your contempt for Miss Hathaway, I believe your review to be spot on. But I think you let Seth off the hook for one of the primary reasons for his failure:

He thought it was a good time to show the most prestigious performers in the world just how much Seth McFarland can do. It was truly 'The Seth McFarland Show, featuring numerous Oscar nominees...'; a misstep for any awards show, and SO wrong for this one. To host ANY awards show takes a balance of entertaining and getting the job done. While his mixed attempts at the former and complete failure of the latter seem important, I wondered why he felt it necessary to show us how freakin' talented he is, dammit! ("Look at me! I sing, I dance, I tell inappropriate jokes I wouldn't say to your face, I juggle, I carve ice sculptures, etc. etc. yadda yadda yadda...") Maybe Seth understands that there's no such thing as bad publicity, even when there should be...

Voicedude said...

Oh, and MY Top Three choices for Oscar host?:

1) Billy Crystal should be given a lifetime contract. He channels all that was best of Carson or Hope, and really has no other career right now anyway...

2) Neil Patrick Harris, Clooney, Damon all sound like good choices. But how about Oscar nominee/winner Alan Arkin? Maybe even with with old partner Mel Brooks? Doesn't anyone remember what trendsetters these guys have been in TV, movies, and stage? Old school, yes! But also funny, respectful, & thoroughly enjoyable.

3) If they're gonna toss around the name of 'Jimmy', let it be Fallon. He's proven all the naysayers wrong (including myself), and Kimmel would end up more as McFarlane 2.0.

Andy F. said...

I second the Nathan ("Johnny, I gotta go, we're expecting another call from you any minute.") Lane recommendation.