Widening the Academy Awards field to 10 contenders for 2009 was hailed and criticized on various fronts, with some seeing the expanded roster as a crass, grade-inflating attempt to provide more populist appeal -- thus boosting the audience's rooting interest and, presumably, the kudocast's ratings.
Less clear is whether having twice as many mouths to feed, as it were, will be good for the actual show.
Theoretically, more nominees -- which could offer admission to popcorn movies and not just latte-sipping arthouse fare -- will give producers a more colorful palette with which to decorate the ceremony. Having "The Dark Knight" among the best picture candidates in 2008 certainly would have justified giving that box office blockbuster a bigger role in the show, as opposed to having
More movies, however, also presents a few headaches, beginning with how the producers adequately service all of them without crafting a 10-movie opening musical tribute that would cause Jackman or
In that respect, the Emmy Awards -- widely praised by critics, including the breezy efforts of host
Nevertheless, increasing the slate of best-picture hopefuls only goes so far -- and can't address other structural flaws beyond the control of the Academy or its designated producers. These include the fact that with most of the roughly two dozen awards devoted to technical categories, less than a quarter of the recipients are recognizable to the vast TV audience.
The harsh truth remains that if producers were creating an awards show from scratch, sound guys and film-short recipients wouldn't receive their career-topping moments in the primetime spotlight. Such moments are part of Oscar's charm, of course, and explain why adding to the traditional best-picture menu won't necessarily yield a more sumptuous feast.
Then there's the draining glut of made-for-TV pre-Oscar award showcases that have sprung up -- often mitigating the suspense surrounding who will win. Nor can organizers ignore the tug of gravity, which has reduced tune-in for virtually every major event except the Super Bowl. In their desperation to pump up ratings, producers have tried all sorts of gimmickry, from promotable hosts to interactive elements -- many aimed at a younger audience that simply wasn't weaned with the awards-show habit, as its parents were.
On the plus side, the uptick in this year's Grammy, Oscar, Tony and Emmy ratings (in some cases, admittedly, coming off disheartening lows) underscores that there's still life in these major academy-backed presentations. The Emmys also discovered that grouping categories under headings like "drama" and "reality" actually streamlined the telecast while giving it thematic coherence, as producers
Including a couple of blockbusters in the balloting certainly couldn't hurt. Yet weighing all these factors, the real key might be less about how many dogs are allowed in the fight than the perpetual struggle of finding the most inviting way to show them.
The Movie Star Deluxe - Elizabeth Taylor
YOU SEE, she didn't care about being a star. She cared about living a certain way. It was what she was used to. And she lived that grand life with Burton and thought they'd have it forever. That's what was most important to her: to have a great companion in her great life ... it was all about being with him. That's all that really mattered.
Late-Night's New Faces
Beyond rewriting the rules of primetime, Jay Leno's shift to 10 p.m. signals the end of the "big tent" late-night talk show -- as TV talk disperses into narrower personalities, each with their own targeted audience.
Early Leno Returns Are Mixed For NBC
'Jay is doing fine,' the comic's new NBC boss, Jeff Gaspin, told the New York Times this week regarding 'The Jay Leno Show' experiment. Actually, based on a preliminary accounting -- and accounting is ultimately what motivated the move -- Leno is doing as well as can by expected, which isn't exactly the same as 'fine.'
The National Dog Show, presented by Purina, will air in a two-hour special on Thanksgiving Day, following the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC, 12 p.m. ET. Arguably, even more than the legendary parade, the dog show, hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, has a little something for one everyone in the family. That's a rarity on TV these days
Fox - White House Media War is Killing News
When members of the Obama administration announced that they did not consider Fox a real news network, they were actually bringing attention to what has become the sad reality of real news gathering in this country: It's disappearing faster than contestants on Survivor
TV News Sensationalism: Everything Is Suspect
Back in 1949, a little girl in California fell down a well. As diggers tried to save her, a huge crowd gathered. The rescue attempt, which took several days, was broadcast nationwide on radio -- and followed anxiously on a new medium called television. Since that moment, kids and danger have been an irresistible lure for broadcasters
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