By Adam Markovitz
Updated January 20, 2009 at 12:00 PM EST

He might be made of gold, but it looks like Oscar is getting hit by the economic crisis just like everyone else. TV Week reports that this year’s Academy Awards telecast (Feb. 22 on ABC) will have a budget of just $1.4 million, down from $1.7 million last year. On top of that, ABC has decided to break with tradition and air commercials for movies during the show for the first time ever. (In the past, the ads were forbidden to avoid giving the impression that movie studios had any involvement in the ceremony itself.) The move is apparently a business decision to bring more ad dollars to the program, which netted its lowest ratings in history last year.

Movie ads are a natural fit for the show (which already takes place in the, ahem, Kodak Theatre). But we’re a little worried that Oscar might resort to the following more drastic measures if he’s really strapped for cash:

1. Product Placement
A red carpet stenciled with McDonald’s arches. A podium fromIKEA. Oscar statues spray-painted blue, a la Watchmen‘s Dr. Manhattan. The possibilities are endless.

2. Recycled Sets
Those lavish sets must cost a fortune. One possible fix? Reusing sets from the year’s biggest movies. Hugh Jackman does his monologue from Iron Man‘s lab. Best Picture is announced in the temple from Indiana Jones. And the losers get shoved into the heroin factory from Tropic Thunder.

3. Digital Music
No more orchestra, just an iPod on shuffle. The world is treated to the sight of Kate Winslet taking the stage to the poignant strains of Miley Cyrus’ “See You Again.”

4. Fanvid Montages
Instead of the usual FX-laden packages of movie clips, we get those same moments reenacted by bored teenagers in sweatpants. Actually, that one sounds like fun…

Your turn, PopWatchers. Are movie ads going to save the Academy Awards? And how else can Oscar save some pennies?

addCredit(“Jeffrey Mayer/”)