Dreading another overlong, unfunny, glacially paced, unoriginal Oscars telecast this year, I was particularly pleased to learn that the Academy people have made a special effort to encourage all the winners to keep their acceptance speeches short. At the big nominees luncheon on Monday, everybody from Leonardo DiCaprio to Melissa Etheridge was given a tape recorder with 45 seconds of available time on it, so they could practice giving brief speeches. (Because, you know, they really have to prevent Abigail Breslin, if she wins, from yammering on about how this opens the door for 10-year-old cutie-pies in Hollywood.) Bravo, Academy people!
Still,a teensy little part of my pop cultural soul died when I read this behind-the-pre-Oscars-scene Associated Press story today. It’s an illuminating piece overall, but in some ways I rather it didn’t shine light on the fact that few other changes will be taking place this year. Chief among the same-old-same-oldness is the return of head writer Bruce Vilanch (pictured) … for a 16th time. He’s quoted as saying, “It’s the same show every year. It has to fall into a certain kind of format.” Oy. I mean, OY! Now, even though he went to Ohio State, Vilanch seems like a nice guy — he was super funny on Hollywood Squares — and he’s got an incredibly tough job writing all the jokes for the Oscars show, something that few people can do. But, more than anything else Oscars-wise, the skits and un-funny banter between presenters have grown stale in recent years. It’s time, I say, for something new.
But what, exactly? Perhaps they should bring back the Daily Show brain trust. Heck, even the Tonight Show writers would do. Or maybe they should just scrap the whole idea of having the show be funny altogether. I mean, the jokes are never good, they waste time, they’re not memorable, and they are usually omitted when the show starts going long, anyway. Then again, maybe there’s a way for Vilanch to fix this himself. Got any suggestions for him, or the show’s producers? Of course you do! Get posting!