Entertainment behind the scenes
Hollywood’s Golden Oscar moment, or one long bathroom break?
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is giving the Oscars a makeover for 2009, doubling the number of Best Picture nominees to ten and relegating its honorary Governors Awards to a separate non-televised ceremony that took place Saturday night.
Part of the idea behind separating the Governors Awards, generally given for career and industry achievement, from the gala Oscars that will take place in March is to cut a slow-moving segment from the broadcast during which many viewers get up from the couch to use the bathroom, make popcorn or turn off the show altogether. The Academy’s Governors say it’s also about dedicating more time to the honorees rather than rushing them through the show in a few minutes — especially when, as with Lauren Bacall on Saturday, it’s a case of a movie legend getting a long-awaited first Oscar.
Listening to Hollywood oldies like Bacall and Kirk Douglas recount stories from the Golden Years of Tinseltown is priceless for those that grew up watching their movies but increasingly lacks relevance for Twitter-age youngsters with a short attention span — hence the bathroom break.
Many at Saturday’s dinner liked the change. Producer Norman Jewison said the lack of TV cameras was great. Warren Beatty relished being able to talk freely without worrying whether there were 36.5 million or only 29.2 million people watching.
The intimate atmosphere saw Bacall make cheeky remarks she might not have made on TV, joking about how she would flirt on set with Gregory Peck but his wife “got in the way”.
The shame is that a goodly chunk of Oscar viewers would have relished a peek at the private ceremony, whose guests included Jack Nicholson, Anjelica Huston, Peter Fonda, George Lucas, Tom Hanks and Jeff Bridges.
With a bit of luck they still will: the dinner was taped and the best clips might still be shown at the main Oscar broadcast on March 7. And if they do show it and you don’t care about Hollywood’s golden oldies, well, there’s your bathroom break.