MCN Commentary & Analysis

Tweeted: Academy & Oscar (September 3)

The problem with The Academy Awards, as a popular TV event, is not the difference between a 2hr 30min show and a 3hr 15min show.

It’s about a failure to understand the brand that has been going on for years and years now.

If this Matt Belloni report is true, it is profoundly idiotic.

“I’m told several award categories—almost certainly the short films and likely several below-the-line crafts—will be jettisoned to the pre-show or commercial breaks, with an “acknowledgement” on the main telecast.”

Another part of Belloni’s report: “other changes are coming to try to make the Oscars more of a celebration of movies and less about the specific films in contention”

Again… Sheer bullshit. The show has increasingly failed to celebrate movies & it’s not because of lack of hits.

Dawn Hudson has never understood or accepted what The Academy is, whether you consider her choices to be self-serving or not. And she has held great sway, albeit at times by the skin of her teeth.

There is no such thing as “rebuilding (Oscar) for a modern audience.”

The reality of the future of The Oscars is that ratings are not going to recover. But as the NFL showed, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be enormously valued in the legacy marketplace.

The first step – perhaps the most important – is to move the event to late Jan/early Feb.

Moving the event earlier will move the season earlier, which means that the realistic calendar year for potential Oscars will go back to being longer.

The Academy has already given up on pressing voters to see movies on big screens. So let’s not bullshit ourselves.

I have floated the idea of the show qualifying potential nominees in every quarter of the year, creating a year-round event. That may be too much for some people. But Jan-Mar/Apr-June quality would be improved by dangling 2 slots for Best Picture.

2 nominees a quarter… +2.

But the truth is, there dozens of good ideas. As flawed as the Soderbergh effort was, the idea of each year’s show having the voice of a filmmaker is a good one.

There needs to be a new idea of why people should tune in, aside from host or awarding mega-budget films.

But I’ll tell ya what… if every distributor signed on, imagine a show where the leading cast every one of the Top 10 films of the year presents an award every year… like a reunion snapshot of the year.

It would be hard. But if they want to maintain Oscar, it would be worth it.

In terms of cutting awards… this gets blocked by smaller branches saying, “no.” That’s why when they did try’d to give awards at seats, it was a (kinda) random selection.

As Ebert said (paraphrased), more of a good thing is better, more of a bad thing is always worse.

For me, the lazy arguments are always “got to get rid of short subjects” and “there’s not time to watch all the movies.”

One of the major problems with Oscar season is that it has become too much of a business and it’s more about financial stakes than about achievement.

Moreover, the media, which has long had a financial stake in concept, is now connected to the actual money. Penske has taken over the trade business and will do anything for a dollar. And THR is in partnership with Penske too… inc shared stake in Dick Clark Prod & The Globes.

When I look at a creative effort that is not working, I always look at the foundations first. Why are we doing this (making the movie/telling the story/handing out awards)?

The Academy, filled with geniuses on the Board (not kidding), has lost sight of the foundational question.

You’re there, on Oscar night, to embrace and honor the best cinema – within your parameters – and to fund the organization with the TV money for the next years.

It is that simple.

And that complex.

This is an organization that brought in, literally, 1000s of new members from overseas so it could appear to be inclusive… and has not done a single thing to make the Oscars more inclusive of the world.

How’s that for a next step?
“But there are so many films!”
Figure it out!

This is an organization that has learned that people aren’t really tuning in for giant production numbers and that a giant, meticulously designed stage just looks like a damned stage on TV.

If you need 3 full months to produce the show, simplify the damned show. (Avoid trains)

This is an organization, even before the 2020 initiative, chose higher quality, lower box office films to fete when it was given more than 5 BP nominees.

Deal with it!

The industry is killing theatrical as we speak… Lord of the Rings or Batman isn’t coming to save you.

Funny thing is, The Oscar Industrial Complex (of which I have indulged) understands the game better than The Academy. They adjust faster than The Academy.

But when The Academy lets them run the show, it doesn’t help. The bar is lowered. A more steady hand would help. A lot.

With due respect to Belloni and his sources… we have heard all about The Academy Is Making A Change before. And before. And before.

But the best future is not one chasing The Cool Kids. They have been on that track for decades now… and it has failed every time.

The best possible future for The Academy Awards is an understanding of what this organization is – no matter what the gender and racial make up – and why The Oscars became so popular on TV 40 years ago.

The past is the most likely future to work.

One last thought…

I have endless respect for the people who end up on the Board of Governors. They have earned it.

But they are rarely people who are the cool kids (in their 30s/40s/50s) now. The really cool movers and shakers aren’t ready for the country club life.

Again… this isn’t meant to insult the people who give their time to The Academy. I respect that choice and every one of them is hugely accomplished.

But there is am Academy schizophrenia between the now-old guard that still feels young & the reality of the entertainment world.

The new kid around is Ted Sarandos and, like I am about to be, he is 57 years old! Not Mr. Hip.

Spielberg (74) is god… but his youngest kid is 25 and his eldest is 45. Not Mr. Hip.

There is nothing wrong with this… but you have to know what you are to become the best you.

If anyone at The Academy thinks the Oscars are going to become young and fresh and hip… wake up.

It is the pomp and circumstance that makes Oscar singular. Look at the ratings for all the “young, fresh, hip” award shows. ToiletVille.

So as we start another Oscar season in earnest… thx for the “we’re changing this time” spin. Been there. Done that.

For the record, I adore many Oscar consultants/publicists. Brilliant people who are there to take every advantage within the rules that The Academy sets.

But The Academy does itself a disservice by being a rubber stamp. If that doesn’t stop, there will always be a price paid.

You can’t find the new angle if you can’t give up the old angle.

I can’t imagine a more fitting metaphor for where the film/tv industry is right now.

Love 2 u.

2 Responses to “Tweeted: Academy & Oscar (September 3)”

  1. Edward Douglas says:

    Thanks for collecting the tweets into a single MCN post, David. I appreciate it.

  2. Bob Burns says:

    Tom Brady drew 22 million + last night, two and a half times as many as all the stars at the Oscars last April.

Leave a Comment

MCN Commentary & Analysis See All

The News Curated by Ray Pride See All


"With Toronto, Telluride, Ven­ice, New York and other key fests opening amid an overcrowded field that includes films postponed from 2020, the acclaim, buzz and dis­tinction festivals bestow on award contenders is more important than ever — especially for spec­tacles such as Dune, which lose impact on the small screen in hybrid streaming/theatrical releases. Yet the surging Delta variant now threatens to derail premieres, star appearances, in-person screenings and the press, the public’s and Oscar vot­ers’ willingness to attend them.

"On August 27, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sci­ences postponed all screenings and in-person events for 2021. And on August 30, despite the U.S. having around 60 times as many COVID-19 cases as Canada and a much lower vaccination rate over the previous four weeks, per Johns Hopkins University data, the U.S. State Dept. advised Americans to “reconsider travel to Canada due to [a high level of] COVID-19” there.

“There’s nothing conclu­sive right now, and everyone is not quite sure how to proceed because of the nature of the COVID pandemic,” says Sony Pic­tures Classics co-president Tom Bernard. “Telluride and Toronto have changed what they are going to do dramatically in the last few weeks, putting in a lot more proto­cols. The New York Film Festival is to be determined—what are they and AFI Fest going to do? Running a festival is like trying to [control] an oil tanker. You can’t just stop it, [and most events] don’t have festival insurance where you can say, ‘COVID shut us down, we gotta get paid.’ It brings up a lot of questions that are really difficult to answer.”

"It wasn’t supposed to be this way..."

Variety | September 9, 2021


“A coalition of some of the nation’s most powerful labor unions is pressuring the Federal Trade Commission to put the brakes on Amazon’s $8.45 billion gambit to buy MGM as the agency decides whether to approve the would-be takeover.”

Twitter | August 11, 2021


Ethan Coen Quits?

Twitter | August 3, 2021

LA Times

Crisis Consultant Tells HFPA: “Consider what will happen if you do not pass the bylaws… Some of you may wish for an alternate future but the reality is totally different. As journalists, you understand what the headline will be if you do not pass these bylaws.”

LA Times | July 26, 2021

The Video Section See All

The Podcast Section See All