Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Academy to movie fans: Drop Dead

In the “I told them so” category comes this story in the NYTimes the other day about Academy Awards officials fretting that nobody will watch their big show later this month.

The nominations of a still relatively little-seen crop of best-picture contenders — “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Milk,” “The Reader” and “Slumdog Millionaire,” which together have accumulated less than half the box office of “The Dark Knight,” which was snubbed — are making it harder for producers of the Oscar ceremony to deliver on an earlier promise: to create a big night for the movies, even if some of the movies are not so big. Operatives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are quietly scrambling to assemble an event that would make some extraordinary bows in the direction of the crowd while trying to do right by the honorees.

Oh, that’s nice. They will make some “bows to the crowd” after thumbing their noses at them for the fourth year in a row.
This isn’t a new phenomena, as I noted earlier, and it has already been having an impact on the Oscar ratings.

After the American audience for last year’s Oscar show hit an all-time low of about 32 million viewers, ABC cut its rate for a 30-second ad on this year’s broadcast to $1.4 million from $1.7 million, according to Advertising Age.

So how are the Academy bigwigs planning to draw in viewers after snubbing the top 20 box office winners?
By hyping up the one and only caveat they made to popular taste - the supporting actor nod for that dead guy in the Batman film.
I hope that makes all you lowly, movie-watching rabble happy because it’s the only scrap you are likely to get off of the Academy’s elitist, super-exclusive table this year.
Check it out:

The message, on posters and Web sites and in televised ads, aims to tell people that this year’s show has something even for viewers who may not care much for the nominees.
Anyway, Ms. Weiss said in a recent telephone interview, the more pop-minded fans should find a glimmer of comfort in the supporting actor nominations that went to Heath Ledger, as the Joker in “The Dark Knight,” and Robert Downey Jr., for his blackface turn in “Tropic Thunder.”
“The Oscars,” she said, “is a show for them too.”

It’s a show for THEM too, she says. Can’t you just FEEL the love?

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