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Lifestyle

February 23, 2014

Oscar-Winning Ideas

Musings on how the Academy Awards event can improve

We’re seven days away from the Oscars, which means we’re about 7 days and 10 seconds away from the first tweet complaining about the show.

But why wait?

Let’s be clear: We’re not wishing failure on this year’s Oscar telecast or predicting that host Ellen DeGeneres will bomb. When it comes to the Oscars, we’re always hopeful, like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin or an L.A. resident dreaming of decent public transportation. And then the show starts and Seth MacFarlane spends 16 minutes making a joke about how he’s going to fail at the job and then goes on to do just that for the next three hours and ... mmmph ... it’s wait ‘til next year.

But it’s going to be different on March 2, right? Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are back on the job, as is DeGeneres, returning as host seven years after her first turn. We’re sure they’re going to put all that experience to good use. But, you know, just in case, here are a few ideas for a more perfect night, both for this year and the future.

Ramp up the energy, Ellen. We enjoyed your low-key charm back in ‘07. Asking Steven Spielberg to snap your picture with Clint Eastwood? Adorbs. But there’s a fine line between unpretentious and just a little dull. Don’t let MacFarlane’s failure last year keep you from stirring the pot. As long as you’re funny, no one will mind the barbs. (Publicly, at least.)

Pick a host. Then stay the course. We’ve gone from the “OMG! Oscars heart young people” Anne Hathaway / James Franco debacle to nostalgic, Old Hollywood Billy Crystal (“We’ve cornered the 70- to 85-year-old market!”) then, last year, to naughty (MacFarlane) to this year’s return to nice. The Golden Globes, meanwhile, are enjoying record ratings, having established a consistent tone by employing the same great hosts year after year. (Ricky Gervais ran things from 2009 to 2011; Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are signed next year for a third straight go-around.) The audience knows what to expect and actually looks forward to what’s coming. Crazy, huh?

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