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Academy may move Oscars to January


(Photo: AP / Jason DeCrow). Oscar on the move

Tradition not withstanding the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences is contemplating moving the annual Academy Awards Show to Janaury. Sources tell Examiner the Academy board of governors is tired of the dwindling audience for what is arguably the most important of the Hollywood honors and with an international audience watching every year the show should be drawing better ratings. The problem persists there are just too many awards shows and Oscar is the last one to air in March.

"I do think this is a good idea to move it to January because what has happened is the power of the Oscars, the singular power of the Academy Awards has been diluted by all these other awards shows," Hollywood publicist and media expert Michael Levine told Examiner. "We have almost a fatigue that is not helping the presentation and we are living in a different world where the Academy must lead and be the first out there, not the caboose."

Levine, who has represented 58 Oscar winners in his career, also believes the selection of Oscar winners has to be updated to include the fans.

"There has to be some participatory element to the Oscars," he added. "I'm not suggesting a popularity  contest but there should be an element that makes it interesting for television."

The prestige of the Academy and its long time image might keep that from happening but Levine has a point. While the Oscars are industry people voting for industry awards, the recent performance of the World Cup on the World Stage might be a place for Oscar to learn a lesson. How much better would the World Cup have been if the pitch (the actual field) were smaller, instant replay was added and slight rule changes were made to add more scoring. All elements which would make the world's best soccer a great event for television in the 21st Century.

It might be argued lots of the people who follow the World Cup don't have televisions. Anyone believing this is still living in a cave watching re-runs of The Whirleybirds. Last week in The Congo over 200 people died when a tanker overturned in a rural village. These people left their seats in front of television sets in small roadside shanties to try to scoop up the fuel pouring from the overturned tanker and were killed when the gas exploded. They were inside shanties watching the World Cup on television.

Few would argue moving the Oscars up would be a bad thing. Such a move would not be without complications. Seeing all the films which come out in December and which qualify for nomination would be difficult for Academy members. Bonuses would include less money spent by the studios promoting the films which would mean less advertising money in the pipeline which isn't so good in this economy. SAG, BAFTA, DGA and the Golden Globes would be put at odds on the decision what to do and whether to continue with television awards shows.

Moving the Oscars from its traditional March slot to January would force the other awards shows to make a choice. Either cut into the busy holiday season which would be expensive or come after the Oscars. The latter would be useless and basically kill the other shows. Some argue the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Golden Globes actually helps the Academy because of all the hype and prestige it now carries. Levine still supports moving the Oscars.

"The argument could be made the Globes help the Oscars by building it up but the better argument could be made it also contributes to the award show fatigue factor," said Levine. "I think moving the Oscars to January would be a good pre-emptive measure for a show which has been in free fall."

Hollywood will have to wait and see. It could come as soon as the 2011 show as Hollywood does have a tendency to move quickly on these things but a more realisitc timetable might be 2012 due to network commitments.


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