RED CARPET MONITOR: Why has 180 minutes become so impossible?

180 minutes equals three hours. For years, the Academy Award presentations have careened through this benchmark like a car with no brakes screaming down a hill at 95 miles an hour.

WHY?

Clearly, the elitist class in La La Land haven’t even bothered to TRY. Actually it’s easy…but you DO have to follow a few simple rules…rules that neither the Academy nor the network screening them – the always money grubbing ABC/Disney – have any interest in following.

I am so sick of reading “How can we POSSIBLY make it under three hours if we have to have simply everybody on? It just CAN’T BE DONE!”

Bullshit.

Any good businessman will tell you it’s all about two words: Time Management. And every year, the Academy and the network (all have had issues with this time frame in the past) running it ignore the obvious.

So…BREAK IT DOWN, FOOLS!

Here we go…you’re NOT Going to like this, Academy…and neither are you, ABC…ESPECIALLY you, ABC…bottom dollar is going to be pinched more than a little bit.

Let’s start with the flagship time frame – 180 minutes.  We will deduct each level of time from this base benchmark.

First, let’s start with the awards themselves. Love the idea of no hosts. Let’s make that permanent, there isn’t time for all the quirky stuff that goes along with them.  The time saved will be ENORMOUS. And utilize the last four or five minutes of the annual Red Carpet Pre-show for the opening credits, so that at precisely 8:30 PM ET/5:30 PM PT, you are already introing the first award…

Now, Oscar has 24 statuettes they present on TV every year. They TRIED to reduce it to 20 this year, but that met with some resistance…heh heh…but you don’t need to reduce it. Here’s how you figure it. At the beginning of each award, include a quick clip from a film that has won the award in the past – a maximum of TWENTY seconds. Pick these clips wisely- this is the ONLY part of the show that will allow these “past glories” to be feted from this point on.  As the clip ends, allow 20 seconds for the presenter(s) to walk from the wings to the podium or microphone as they are introduced, and where they will dispense with all the claptrap and empty banter, and simply begin – “In the category of (category), the nominees are..”, .and then they will give the names and films nominated; for craft categories, the names will be listed on screen with a still or clip from the film nominated. From the time the presenter opens their mouth to announce the nominees to the point where they announce “And the Oscar goes to…” should take SIXTY SECONDS. One Minute. That is more than ample time for all the nominees to be highlighted -10 seconds each (Best Picture gets 10 seconds per film, maximum 100 seconds) – plus the 10 second anticipatory group shot.

Allow time for each winner or winners to make it to the stage – One Minute –  and the lead mouth for that win needs to start their acceptance speech at the 60 second mark, even if some people are still straggling to the stage – put a “shot clock” in sight of the podium if you have to. Then that Oscar gets TWO MINUTES to say what they need to say for all the categories except the big six – Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress – which each get THREE minutes.  If they go over, they get cut off. PERIOD. I don’t care HOW MANY PEOPLE need to speak. The time limit is the time limit. Get a friggin’ hook if you have to. And OH YES…absolutely NO POLITICIZING!  Bar political comments unless it directly involves THE FILM that just won – one of the biggest and most passionate reasons for the recent steady years of dropping ratings is that people come to watch film – and their award shows –  to GET AWAY from politics and other controversial stuff – make the speeches about the FILMS, not the actor/director/producer/craftsman’s personal political leanings and beliefs.

TOTAL TIME OF ACTUAL AWARD PRESENTATIONS: allowing five to six minutes per award from beginning to end with a slight 20 second back-and-forth from category to category, and extensions on the big six – 144 Minutes

Next up – the Best Song presentation. Unfortunately, to make the 180 minute mark, there is simply NO TIME for each song to be individually performed, sorry Lady Gaga….Best Songs are presented in a medley, and each participant gets NINETY seconds to perform a truncated version of their song. If the 90 second limit is good enough for “Dancing With The Stars” and all the TV talent shows, it’s good enough for Oscar, too.  Hell, at least they’re getting heard – the Globes don’t even have them performed…or alternately, simply present a 90 second snippet of each song performed by a nondescript group of performers while a clip plays behind them. Yes, the film community won’t like it, but they MUST simply swallow it and move on…

TOTAL TIME OF ACTUAL BEST SONG PRESENTATIONS: 8. 5 Minutes (allowing for a 60 second intro at the beginning)

TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 153. 5 minutes.

Still under the 180 mark…and there’s not that much left to do:

The traditional “In Memoriam” segment is the ONLY full-scale “past glories” tribute the new Academy Award show is designed to accommodate – remember we’re celebrating the films of the PAST YEAR, so ENOUGH with these “classic tributes” – they don’t belong on the main show, but a special of their own, perhaps the week before Oscar. And even this traditional segment will have to be limited to a mere FIVE MINUTES – it means multiple stars on screen at once, and multiple notes about them, but I’m sure it can be done…

TOTAL TIME FOR IN MEMORIAM SEGMENT – 5 Minutes

TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 158.5 minutes.

And now…it’s time to bite the bullet, ABC…there’s only 21.5 minutes left for commercials. Use this time creatively and wisely, and command top Superbowl of Films dollars for it. Offer :15 and :30 spots ONLY, divided up to best use what’s left of the allotted time. And make it known to your affiliates that they will get ONE MINUTE of time each hour – the rest belongs to the network. Gone are the days of multiple 3.5 minute breaks and at least two 6 minute blocks shared with Affiliates EVERY HOUR. It simple does NOT WORK in the new Oscar economy.

TOTAL RUNNING TIME: 180 minutes.

BOO-YA!

I know, I know purists are screaming now….”B-b-but what about TRADITION?”

Tradition of the past has so far equaled LOW RATINGS. All time lows the past few years as a matter of fact. It’s time to come kicking and screaming into the 21st century and accommodate the generation of viewers that has an average attention span of about 100 seconds or so – time to start catering to this new generation of fans…and make some NEW traditions.

OK, There it is – you CAN do the Academy Awards in just three hours – you just have to manage time PRECISELY and bite the bullet when it comes to revenue. Now, the question is really “Does the network, and the Academy, have the BALLS to pull it off?

My guess is….Nopety nope nope…

To quote the late, great Stan Lee (no matter WHAT an asshat like Bill Maher thinks), “‘Nuff Said…”

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