HOLLYWOOD—No one is surprised that the 93rd Academy Awards was going to be the lowest watched and lowest rated awards show ever, with only 10.4 million to be precise, according to published reports. Why Disney-owned ABC is saying that the Oscars were their strongest primetime telecast of the year, is a little alarming.
Hollywood’s biggest night went host-less for the second consecutive year, changed venues from the Dolby Theater to Los Angeles’ Union Station. Then let’s not forget the political views that year and year again, I strongly suggest to leave that home. Obvious, physical changes to the ceremony, such as staging the awards in a train station-with far fewer people present and nominees popping up around the world at live camera points.
The show began with Regina King walking into Union Station from a sunny LA boulevard and making her way to the stage, the camera following her all the way in a live tracking shot. Almost immediately, the Oscar-winning actress and director made reference to the verdict in Minneapolis -saying if it had gone the other way, “I would have traded my heels for marching boots.”
She spoke about how hard the year had been, but also how films had made people feel less isolated. She also had to make clear that while the people in the venue were mask-less, they had been tested, they were socially distanced, and they would be putting their masks back on if they moved around. Then she launched into the awards. It was suddenly notable that no clips of the nominated performances were being played-merely some facts read out about each of the nominees.
Things moved quickly, Director Steven Soderbergh had clearly thought hard about how to keep up the pace, and wasn’t afraid to make some major changes to the usual format. In his movies, he has a tendency for quick cutting. Perhaps part of the reason he was hired to run the Oscars ceremony, and it was evident throughout the evening, to the extent that some shots weren’t properly in focus as the broadcast bounced from LA to Seoul to London and even Kilkenny in Ireland.
The venue had the 1930s jazz club ambience and painting of the nominees. Despite the well-spaced, massively reduced audience, there were passionate speeches. Mostly on racism. The other significant change was that there was no music to play off winners when they went on too long. The problem with that was the rambling speeches, and a world record might have been set for the cumulative number of people thanked throughout the ceremony.
Meanwhile, the order of the awards was another major change. People are not used to breaking Oscar tradition. Most likely two reasons the audience tuned out. First, too many political speeches. Secondly, the overall changes, the venue, the lack of actors. Add those two together you get only 10.4 million viewers. Sad!
The Oscars will always be a part of glitz and glamor of Hollywood, however, if this continues the ratings will be the same or even worse. Looking forward, let’s hope that the Oscars 2022, will be at the Dolby Theatre and that a real host will take over.
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