If you think the Academy Awards should be more entertaining and less introspective, the producers of this year's Oscars telecast have made another favorable change to the big show. Fearing that viewers at home tune out during lengthy acceptance speeches with numerous thank yous, with winners sounding off on professional and personal names that few of us know or care about, the nominees have been asked to prepare something more ratings friendly.
Basically the winners will be allowed 45 seconds with which to tell the world what the award means to them. As for shout-outs to agents and parents (and spouses if they're remembered), there will be a separate forum for such gratitude backstage via a "Thank You Cam." These videos will be available online afterward for anyone to see, rather than aired during the television broadcast of the ceremony.
Of course, any winner who disagrees with the change is able to do as he or she pleases given that it's a live show. Any sign of a traditional acceptance, however, would surely be met with immediate music cues signaling a commercial break. One of the telecast's co-producers, Bill Mechanic, believes these kinds of speeches are "the single most-hated thing on the show" and likely won't allow them to ruin the flow of the program.
Anything to move the awards along for those of us at home, right? Clearly the Academy is looking to appease TV viewers by expanding the Best Picture category to allow for more popular fare like "Avatar" and "The Blind Side." And now they're interested in grabbing our attention throughout the ceremony, even if we've grown accustomed to relegating certain moments for bathroom or refreshment breaks.
There seems to be some concern that this latest change is disrespectful toward the Oscar recipients. But I'm all for it, and I think the nominees should recognize that despite the Academy Awards historically being about Hollywood patting itself on the back, it is also typically better for winners to give a memorable speech.
Certainly the true entertainers, such as the acting and directing nominees, know it's more beneficial to their careers for them to go down in Oscar history with a great story of some kind. And the less-famous winners should be aware too, that an interesting anecdote can be advantageous. Think of all the people unfamiliar with Michael Haneke who will be intrigued about his films after he says or does something noteworthy when he wins the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film.
Some people even believe that a good speech-giver is more likely to win an Oscar due to the appeal for TV audiences. Favorite winners include people like Meryl Streep, who is always good for a self-mocking laugh, and those recipients who get extremely emotional and explain, through their tears, how they've wanted the award since youth.
As an example of how to act in their allotted 45 seconds, nominees were reportedly shown a clip of Renee Zellweger's speech from 2004, though you can see for yourself that even she relied too heavily on the personal acknowledgment side when while accepting for her Best Supporting Actress win.
Do you care what kind of speeches are given during the Oscars? Will you check out the Thank You Cam feed on the web to see who was thanked? What are some of your favorite acceptance speeches of the past?