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Monday, February 28, 2011

Where The Oscar Show Went Wrong

It's simple: if you want to be young and hip, it takes more than just hiring young stars to host. I adore James Franco and Anne Hathaway, and I think they had decent chemistry at times, but they were given just awful material to work with, as were the Oscar presenters.

A lot of people on my Twitter feed seemed to think Franco was high. I think they were confusing him with his "Pineapple Express" character. And he spent plenty of time posting videos to Twitter, which I think would be a problem if one is both trying to use a smartphone and host an awards show at the same time. Maybe he was too distracted by Twitter. I just think it was the terrible jokes and banter from the writers. (If Bruce Vilanch had a hand in this, as he often has had in past Oscar shows, perhaps it's time to consider retirement.)

One of the few jokes that worked, and I don't know if it was part of the script or an ad lib, came after Hathaway's little song-and-dance number. Because, he said, "you got to wear a tuxedo," Franco came onstage in drag. He followed that with: "The weird thing is I just got a text message from Charlie Sheen."

The whole reason for Oscar's being is for Hollywood to, metaphorically speaking, fellate itself. They're all there to congratulate each other and kiss each other's ass. There's no room for out there, edgy humor unless they're directing it at themselves (or close friends/coworkers, such as Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law). That's why the Sheen joke went over well:
right now he's an outsider. And that's why David Letterman will never be asked to host again, even though the one show he hosted was among the very best (I am biased here, since I'm an old Letterman fan).

With the jokes they were working with, the Oscar producers might have well just brought back Steve Martin or Alec Baldwin or Billy Crystal -- who actually showed up and had as many good lines as anyone else in his brief appearance. (And any producers/writers who not only have Gwyneth Paltrow sing but have her introduced as "country music's newest star" should never work in television again, even if they did have James Franco in white tights during the opening montage. What a sweet backside...)

The Oscars are damned if they do and damned if they don't. The movies they nominate in the major categories generally aren't massive hits, so the public at large isn't interested (especially when there's a lack of diversity among the acting nominees, as there was this year). And if the hosts "go too far" there's a backlash (see: Golden Globes/Ricky Gervais). Hollywood is focused on franchise films with money-generating (they hope) sequels, preferably in 3-D. Unless the Oscar voters loosen their standards, or they find the right host (I do think one is better than two) with the right material, they can't have a truly winning show.

(Edit to add: Almost forgot one segment, as I tweeted a while ago, that really worked.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, Bruce Vilanch was a writer this year! He needs to throw in the towel!