As Dave Lettermen observed, “I think it takes a lot of nerve for a show that is 4 1/2 hours long to give out an award for editing.” The most popular annual complaint about the Oscars is that the show lasts too long. The speedy pace of the SAG awards fit tightly in a two-hour time-slot, and they had time for just as many awards with nobody rudely rushed offstage before they had time say, “Thanks.” Personally, the length never bothers me. I’d be happy if the Oscars started right around noon and lasted till a couple of hours past midnight — like the Super Bowl seems to. And maybe there’s the key to the length question. Back in high school, weren’t football games played in a couple of hours? (Stop calling those time-outs and they could wrap it up an hour and 15 minutes, technically, right? Time-outs are for sissies. Get on with it! Run your asses off like the real men in soccer do. 90 minutes, tops.) So why does the Super Bowl need to last all damn day? Possibly something to do with the ad revenue of $2.5mil per 30-second spot, ya think? The Oscars bring in a little less, locked in at $1.8 mil, but that’s still plenty of incentive to pad the show in order to squeeze in as many plugs as possible for Big Macs and Cokes, L’Oreal and Amex, GM & M&M’s.
It makes no economic sense to trim the broadcast of excess fluff. The fluffier the better for ABC — even if it means a tribute montage to binoculars. 30 million viewers is what they’re telling us, and yet you’ll still hear people perpetuating the myth of a billion viewers worldwide. (Extrapolating 15% of the US population to a global formula would get you pretty close to a billion, sure — but that’s assuming one out of 6 people in Burundi and Boliva are as jazzed about the Oscars as we are.)
But you can bet ABC will be looking for somebody to blame — anyone but themselves — and my guess is that Jon Stewart is the fall guy. For the record, I thought he was superb, and he earned enough cred with his handling of the Marketa Irglova incident for me to nominate him as Oscar Host for Life. But that kind of spontaneous graciousness might’ve only irked the execs with their finger on the orchestra trigger, so who knows?
The question is, who could possibly do a better than Stewart? Film.com has 5 suggestions (all of which suck) so who else might help deliver a ratings boost along with the requisite touch of class? (as Pete said earlier today, maybe “the selection of a more appropriate host from the film community itself.”) Jon Stewart has set the bar pretty high. Any thoughts on a serious alternative?