EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 24, 2013

Oscar's problems are bigger than Seth MacFarlane

The bigwigs in charge of Sunday’s Oscar telecast have pretty much promised to blow our freakin’ minds.

That’s right. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the award-winning team behind “Chicago,” claim they’re going to stuff the show with more “wow” moments (i.e. song-and-dance numbers), more shiny stars (look, it’s Barbra Streisand!) and more suspense (who will Seth MacFarlane insult next?) than anyone can possibly imagine.

And by the end of the night, we’ll all be welded to the couch, coated in orange Cheetos dust, and staring at our TV sets in slack-jawed wonder.

Or something like that.

Now, we hate to be a Billy Buzz-Kill, but haven’t we been down this road before? Every year, someone has a bold plan to pump more life and/or youth into the Oscars. And every year, it seems, things go awry. The show is a snoozefest that sends ratings into a nose-dive and critics on a rampage.

Or did you forget that “innovative” move to have Anne Hathaway and James Franco serve as a two-headed host in order to make the show more hip? Well, Hathaway was game, but an inert Franco completely bombed.

And recall how Chris Rock was supposed to bring an exciting, irreverent edge to the stodgy affair. The result: Oversensitive movie stars had their egos bruised, and reviewers blasted Rock for being too snide and dismissive.

You just can’t please ‘em all.

There have been other mildly adventurous tweaks intended to keep the Oscars from feeling like a fossilized museum piece. One year, someone cuts out the garish production numbers. The next year, someone puts them back. There are efforts to tinker with the pacing, to reinvent the set, to curtail the lame patter between presenters, to jazz up those pretaped packages ...

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