Entertainment behind the scenes
Oscar organizers are promising a show filled with “risks” by changing the old formula of a comedian 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.
It was perhaps the biggest snub of the Oscar nominations, actor/director Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” was overlooked by voters at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with no — zero — nominations. Or, was it?
The studio behind Batman movie “The Dark Knight” has set Jan. 23 as the date for the movie’s re-release in IMAX and conventional theaters.
Studios often re-release movies in the lead-up to the Oscars, and “The Dark Knight” has been talked about for a number of trophies.
“Slumdog Millionaire” walked away with four Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night, including best film drama, setting it on a solid path to Oscar glory. But there is still a long way to go. It was only three years ago that “Crash” was shut out of many Golden Globe nominations, but it made a comeback at the Screen Actors Guild awards and went on to claim that year’s best picture Oscar.
Why? One reason is because actors make up the biggest branch of voters at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and they loved “Crash.”
It’s a tough job hosting the Academy Awards. It’s supposed to be entertaining, but it’s also a night for the stars to revel in the glory of an Oscar win. And the host has to be edgy and funny, without going over the line and insulting the honorees.
But when it works, as it did in 1992 when tough-guy actor Jack Palance did push-ups in front of comedian and host Billy Crystal, only to become the butt of Crystal’s jokes for the rest of the night, it makes for memorable moments.
On Friday, the organization behind the Academy Awards named Australian actor Hugh Jackman as the host of February’s annual show. Jackman is the first non-comedian to single-handedly host the show in recent years. The last time an Australian hosted the show was in 1987, when to “Crocodile Dundee” star Paul Hogan shared the stage with actress Goldie Hawn and comedian Chevy Chase.
Coming off starring in “Australia,” which has had only limited box office success since its Nov. 26 opening with a total box office take of $43 million, Jackman will rely on song and dance instead of just jokes to entertain a worldwide audience on Oscar night.
He has done well hosting the Tony Awards, the Broadway version of the Oscars, but the Oscars’ audience is used to comedians on the show. On a night where hype and pomp rule, the comedian’s role is often to keep the show grounded by injecting a jester’s dose of realism.
Eleven years ago while covering the Berlin Film Festival, I sat down with British director Anthony Minghella, who died in a London hospital on Tuesday at the age of 54.