Sunday, February 29, 2004

Oh, Oscar, let us all just go to sleep

The Associated Press

It's a long, hard road to win an Academy Award, and sometimes a longer, harder one to sit through the entire telecast.

Two years ago, the Oscars ran a record-setting 4 hours and 23 minutes. Last year's show was shorter, but it still lasted the same amount of time as a Lord of the Rings movie.

Will there ever be a year where viewers get to bed by 11 p.m.? At least these tips might prevent tonight's broadcast from dragging into Monday morning.

• Trim the best-song performances to a short medley. Some nominees in this category are fairly obscure anyway (can you hum the tune from Triplets of Belleville?). Sting, Elvis Costello and Alison Krauss will still agree to sing for a worldwide audience, even if they're given only a few seconds each.

• No dance numbers. Have the orchestra play brief selections from the best-score nominees, if necessary. Just don't ask guys in leotards to re-create Seabiscuit.

• Ban actors from thanking their agents, trainers, personal assistants and lawyers. This move alone could save enough time to give Sting his whole song back.

• No stunts featuring winners from the past 50 years. We love Elizabeth Taylor, Karl Malden, Rita Moreno, Louis Gossett Jr. and the rest of the gang. But that's no excuse for dragging them onstage and making them sit together on bleachers.

• Hope Diane Keaton doesn't win. Not that she doesn't deserve it for her stellar comeback in Something's Gotta Give. But all those adorable pauses and loopy giggles could stretch her acceptance speech into extra innings.

• Drop the montage of great moments in film. Yes, Chuck Workman is a master at weaving together magical sequences of beloved clips. But we can forgo the flashbacks to Indiana Jones and that huge boulder.

• Move some awards off the air. While it would mess with tradition, it would help if documentary short subject, animated short film and live-action short film were handed out at some sort of special ceremony before the Oscars. That's what they do now for the scientific and technical awards.

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