The Academy Awards got it right again this year. Billy Crystal -- the funniest baby boomer alive -- will host The Greatest Show on Earth (pardon the circus metaphor) for the ninth time so we can all breathe a sigh of relief. No worries now. It WILL be funny and worth watching!
I am delirious that Billy will be hosting this year's Academy Awards because he knows how to work a crowd, and he's just so darn funny! He's the best host ever... yes, ever! (My apologies to everyone else who has hosted over the years, because most of you were just fine, but Billy Crystal is The Man!) He walks out on that stage, and all of us know we're going to laugh out loud before he even opens his mouth. Then when he does open his mouth, that's when the fun begins!
Billy, I know you have perfectly capable writers and producers to help you get through the three hours (and change) of this broadcast, but I'd like to throw out about 14 suggestions.
Keep this telecast to two hours tops. We're going to eliminate some random "yawn" awards so here's a short to-do list from a spectator who has had plenty of experience watching this show for well over 40 years, and who knows better than your audience members about what works and what's overkill?
1. Your opening should be at least 30 minutes of Funny Stuff.
2. Introduce the celebrity presenters for Best Supporting Actress, and when she arrives on stage, we'll all listen to her funny/moving/emotional speech for two to five minutes because she's first up and the musical conductor gives her a pass (even though we all start to squirm at the two-minute mark).
3. Ad lib something funny, relevant to her speech and then ...
4. Introduce the celebrity presenters for Best Supporting Actor and let's listen to Christopher Plummer's warm, funny, sweet speech that might even include his door man.
5. Do another 10 minutes of hilarious material by working the room and let the camera pan the celebrity crowd so star gazers can get their fix.
6. Introduce the celebrity presenters for Best Director and let's hope the award goes to Woody Allen because he's witty, and it'll be a short speech. Hopefully the camera gets a close-up of the best director of our generation -- Steven Spielberg -- during his short speech. (Spielberg is the King of Hollywood directors and we just love to see him give a nod of approval).
7. Do another 10 minutes of hilarious material and do something funny with those accountants who show up every year with their briefcase (can we see what's in it this year?).
8. Introduce the celebrity presenters for Best Actor and let's listen to this handsome actor use his quick wit to thank everyone from his kindergarten teacher to his parents and how much fun it was filming in Hawaii and thank the director and all the actors he worked with in this film while the camera pans the audience showing his beautiful girlfriend's reaction. (She's a keeper!) Oh, and he should thank his publicist -- Stan -- the nicest publicist in show business (because he always replies to my emails since I'm in the business of interviewing celebrities on the East Coast, and he's almost never been cranky).
9. Do another 10 minutes of hilarious material because it's just not possible to laugh too much. Maybe get a camera shot of the last 10 people who hosted the Oscars sitting with the audience -- in the last row -- tweeting.
10. Introduce the celebrity who will be in charge of the annual "In Memoriam" tribute this year which, seriously, is always one of my favorite parts of this show because it acknowledges the contributions of those who left us since the last Academy Awards Show... and I always end up shedding many tears, so I have my hankies at hand.
11. Introduce the celebrity presenters for Best Actress and let's listen to her talk really fast thanking her dance teacher and her parents who always believed she had "it" and her significant other and the other actors who worked with her in this picture, and how honored she is to be in this category with all the other nominees and, oh yes, her agent, her manager, her hairdresser, her publicist (nobody ever thanks their publicist) and everybody else she forgot to mention because she's so shocked she got this award (again... or for the first time).
12. Do another 10 minutes of hilarious material -- maybe a cameo with Eddie Murphy tweeting messages to you from the first row in the audience and we actually see what he's tweeting on a big screen behind you. (I love this man too!)
13. Introduce the celebrity presenters for Best Picture and let's listen to the producer(s) get up and thank the actors, actresses, director, the studio, and how many years it took to get this picture made, and, wow, the other pictures in this category were just so darn good also.
14. End the show with a few funny ad libs and explain to the grateful TV viewers that if they really want to see who won in other categories (Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Screenplay, Foreign Language Film, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, (must I go on?) just hang around and watch the credits as their category and the winning names scroll down their TV screen as the stars file out of the Kodak Theater (or whatever they're calling it now).
Billy, just between us, if the people in those categories get miffed that they are left out of the live presentations, just ask them if they'd like to attend the annual Association of Dentists Awards ceremony and sit through two hours of dentists, oral surgeons, and orthodontists accepting their awards for Best Crowns, Best Braces, Best Implants, Best Teeth Whitening, or maybe they can attend the annual Microsoft Awards Banquet and sit for three hours and watch computer scientists they've never seen or heard of accept awards for Best Web Designs, The Bill Gates Award for Excellence as a Software Architect, Best Programming Language Software Award, 2012 Excellence in Digital Research... or perhaps they want to attend the four-hour Association of Hotels Awards Banquet while 200 people are singled out for excellence in their fields at each hotel brand in North America. Yawn.
See my point?
Seriously, the movie industry has spoiled us by promoting all their "stars" so that's who we "know" -- that's who we want to "see." The people behind the scenes in films are wonderful human beings, they all deserve awards (just like dentists, IT people, and hotel employees do), but do movie industry people want to sit through random award banquets to watch people they don't know receive awards they don't care about?
I know it's important to them. I know their mothers and their dogs are proud, and they worked really, really hard this year to help put these films together, but please, do this for all us who usually fall asleep before the last three big awards are presented.
We don't get enough of you Mr. Billy Crystal -- ever -- so we want to see plenty of You plus the stars we know and love since we've seen a lot of their movies.
(Everyone else, welcome to my world. I'll be at home watching in my pajamas. Who cares about me either? I'll never get an award in my lifetime -- ever! -- so don't kill the messenger here who's hoping it'll be a two-hour telecast, because some of us have to get up early the next day to go to a job where there are no awards waiting for us at our desks.)
We love you, Billy! We'll see you next year too, yes? Please!