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Is a show of “risks” enough to save the Oscars?

February 3, 2009

Oscar organizers are promising a show filled with “risks” by changing the old formula of a comedianrourke4 telling jokes and film award winners getting all teary when they accept the world’s top film honors. But will ”risk” be enough.

Stung by competition from other awards shows and simply more channels on TV, the Oscars in recent years have seen an almost steady decline in viewership to 32 million last year — the lowest audience ever — from 39.9 million in 2007.

Some have blamed not only the competition, but the movies that get nominated. Last year, the nominees included films such as dark dramas “No Country for Old Men,” which were little seen by audiences.

By contrast, the most recent telecast with huge viewership came when 2003′s box office smash hit, ”The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” swept through many categories and won 11 awards. Oscar watchers had believed that popular Batman movie “The Dark Knight” might land a best film nomination and lure fans to the telecast this year, yet in it’s place is little seen drama “The Reader.”    Hmmmmmmm.

Nevertheless, producers Laurence Mark and Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”) promise a show with a lot of risk-taking and they’ve hired song-and-dance man Hugh Jackman to lead the way. But we wonder whether that will be enough? Or are Oscar voters simply out of touch with mainstream moviegoers who thrill at movies like “Dark Knight” and “Gran Torino”? Put more simply, will you tune in on Feb. 22?

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