Neil Patrick Harris hosted the 67th annual Tony Awards on Sunday night, and despite some ridiculous, ginned-up debate about whether or not he said the n-word during the broadcast's opening number (he didn't), Harris did an outstanding job. If that sounds familiar, it's because Harris always does an outstanding job hosting awards shows: Sunday night was his fourth go-around as Tonys host and he'll emcee the Emmy Awards for a second time in September. He's the modern-day equivalent of Bob Hope, minus the 19 tours as Oscar host -- and that's just one of the problems with the Academy Awards.
Yet again, the Oscars -- the supposed granddaddy of all awards shows -- were left in the glitter dust by the Tony Awards, a broadcast that thrives on spontaneity, good-natured humor and Harris' innate ability to make everything feel smooth. Contrast that to 2013 Oscars host Seth MacFarlane, who not only brought misogyny to the venerable awards show, but also William Shatner. (Because nothing makes an awards show better than William Shatner?) Ahead, four things the Oscars should have learned from the Tony Awards long ago, but still have not.
1. Stop Chasing The Demos
Oscar producers selected Seth MacFarlane as host, in part, to goose demographic ratings. It worked: as HitFix noted, the Oscars were up 34 percent among men ages 18 to 34. Yet at what cost? MacFarlane's opening number clearly turned off many viewers and it goes to reason that if he or someone similar were to host again in 2014, there would be some backlash. This is to say nothing of the fact that the 2013 roster of Best Picture nominees -- among them "Argo," "Django Unchained" and "Zero Dark Thirty" -- were more appealing to the male demographic than 2012 nominees like "The Help" and "The Artist." Chicken/egg: Was MacFarlane responsible for those demographic numbers, or were the movies?
2. For The Love Of Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes, No More Small Awards
As yours truly suggested after the 2011 Tony Awards, it might be time to relegate the smaller Academy Award winners to the commercial breaks. (Unless you really wanted to see Nelson, Paterson and Hayes accept their Oscars for Best Sound Editing.) Here's how the Tony Awards do this: small awards are given out off-air and then the winners' acceptance speeches are cut together in montages sprinkled throughout the show. It's great for everyone: honorees get to bask in the approval of their peers in the room, but viewers don't have to watch them for more than 20 seconds. Along those lines ...
3. Keep The Show Short
Regardless of what you might think of relegating "smaller" awards to the commercial breaks, there's no arguing the fact that the Tony Awards are just run better than the Oscars. This year's ceremony ended before 11:10 p.m. on the East Coast, making the show roughly 30 minutes shorter than the relatively brief 2013 Oscars. This is the age of tweet, retweet, trending topic -- no one wants to sit through over three-and-a-half hours of the Oscars when there's no real reason it couldn't be tighter. (First step: start at 8 p.m. on the East Coast instead of 8:30 p.m.) How ruthless were the Tony producers on Sunday night? They even played off Cicely Tyson.
4. Hire Neil Patrick Harris, Please
Duh. Between the egos in the room and the Twitter users snarking at home, hosting an awards ceremony in 2013 is a thankless task. Harris, though, manages to get thanks every single time he does it. Why? Because he looks like he's having a blast (MacFarlane, to contrast Harris with the most recent Oscar host, looked awkward and nervous), because he's smart (the closing on-the-fly rap, as an example) and, most important, because he can tell the meanest joke in a disarming way (even Tom Hooper probably laughed at that "Les Miserables" dig). (That last one is a trait Tina Fey and Amy Poehler both exhibited during the 2013 Golden Globes when they told some vicious jokes, yet received big laughs from both the room and the audience at home.) Presentation is key, and Harris has become the king of presenting. It's why his "How I Met Your Mother" character Barney Stinson, a sociopath and misogynist, works so well: Harris just sells everything in a way that makes people believe he's the nicest guy in the room all the time. He's like Eddie Haskell but in a better suit.