The show may or may not get higher ratings than the American Idol finale, but the subject of who will host and produce the 82nd Academy Awards telecast remains Hollywood's perennial obsession.
And right now there is a bit of panic afoot in showbiz, that with a mere 138 days until showtime, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences still hasn't decided on a helmer for the trophy trot. Nikki Finke reported last week, that last year's host and producer, Hugh Jackman and Bill Condon, are planning not to return to the Kodak stage. The pair's up-market, olde-timey glamour version of the show, gave Oscar its first ratings uptick in seemingly forever; a dramatic break in its long slide into irrelevance. ("What an honor for the Aussie actor" grandma Nikki writes of the of the Academy's desire to bring Jackman back to the show.)
UPDATE: Since the writing of this item, the producers have been named...and they are...Hairspray director Adam Shankman and former Fox CEO Bill Mechanic.)
Every year, Hollywood debates the question of how to update an event that is inherently the stodgiest thing thing on Earth. For starters, the thing that Oscar was conceived to honor — big glitzy prestige films — don't exist anymore, so the show will from now until forever be torn between giving their statues to little independent films that no one saw (and hence, that no one wants to see an awards show celebrating) or trying to find ways to squeeze nods to Dark Knight into a show that will never actually honor such popular films.
And for that matter, what with the media attention span being half a second long these days, if you are talking about movies that came out last year, you might as well be giving a lesson in like, the Cold War or Vietnam or something.
Not to mention — three hours of people in tuxedoes getting trophies and making speeches?!? In the epoch of cat videos!? Is this some kinda of Twilight Zone episode? Is America being punk'd by Oscar?
So what the heck do you do with a still huge but dwindling monstrosity like Oscar? Basically you can embrace the future or deny it, and either route has its merits. Here's our suggestions for the roads Oscar could take:
EMBRACE THE KIWANIS WITHIN
Oscar is never, ever going to win over these kids today, so go with your strength. Lead with the stodgy; you'll play well to your base and once every decade and a half, catch a retro wave. These days the Hollywood establishment is the aging Baby Boom generation, who are bound to actually become cool one of these days.
Host: Billy Crystal
Producer: Jeffrey Katzenberg
Ideal Best Picture Winner: Braveheart
Opening Number: A Rockettes lead a musical tribute to the films of screenwriter Ron Bass, high-stepping to the greatest moments from Rain Man, Snow Falling on Cedars and Dangerous Minds.
Clips Reel: A complete recap of The Today Show reporting the weekend grosses every Monday morning of the past year.
Log Line: This IS your grandfather's Oscars.
DRINK THE GLOBES UNDER THE TABLE
The reason why the Golden Globes have held their own against the declining Oscars is liquor. The dinner setting of the Globes show has traditionally meant well-lubricated winners making some of the more free-wheeling, demented speeches of awards season. Well, two can play at that game. Mandatory tequilla shots and forced picks from the mystery wheel of amphetamines for all attendees.
Host: Jack Nicholson
Producer: Ben Silverman
Ideal Best Picture Winner: Couples Retreat
Opening Number: Stars careen to their seats on a giant Slip 'n Slide placed down the aisle.
Clips Reel: The best moments of buddy comedies, guys who love to laugh with each other.
Log Line: Come and Get It!
Pander completely to Hoodie Nation with an all self-referential celebration of quirk.
Host: Michael Cera
Producer: Spike Jonze
Ideal Best Picture Winner: (500) Days of Summer
Opening Number: Michael Cera sits on the floor of the Kodak stage listening to the mix tape he has made for an impossibly cool girl featuring acoustic remixes of John Hughes soundtrack songs. As we watch, the audience travels inside a giant movie screen and from the perspective of the Oscar nominated films, we watch Cera go to the movies with the impossibly cool girl, but never get to first base.
Clips Reel: Great Moments in Mentioning Bands During Movies.
Log Line: Oscars? What?
The tweens have taken over entertainment; how long does Oscar think it can hold out anyway? Show Oscar's commitment to staying relevant by terminating the careers of any actor over 35 on live TV.
Host: Vanessa Hudgins
Producer: The Kardashians
Ideal Best Picture Winner: New Moon
Opening Number: 50's style sockhop dance number as George Clooney, Angelina Jolie and all the old people in the audience are loaded onto the original Sputnik rocket and blasted into outer space.
Clips Reel: The progression of Taylor Lautner's abs, from flaccid to six pack.
Log Line: This is on, bitch.
When you get down to it, the Academy is the original original gangsta.
Host: 50 Cent
Producer: P Diddy
Ideal Best Picture Winner: Final Destination 3D
Opening Number: The Kodak Theater is transformed with gold plated chandeliers and stripper pole while a car chase screeches through the lobby, ending in a cataclysmic explosion on stage.
Clips Reel: The history of on-screen bling.
Log Line: Don't Forget Who Brung You.
THE REALITY ACADEMY
Turn the show into a real time competition with bug eating contests, relay races and back stage confessionals.
Host: Ryan Seacrest
Producer: Nigel Lythgoe
Ideal Best Picture Winner: Step Up 2: The Streets
Opening Number: Nominees forced to perform a Polish mazurka, with one catch; one mis-step and the plummet into a tub of a million centipedes — and lose their shot at taking home Oscar.
Clips Reel: Night vision cameras placed in the hotel rooms of the stars while on set reveal secret celebrity hook ups — and a few drunken nights with a key grip or two.
Log Line: Oscar Wild!
THE TMZ OSCARS
Why fight it anymore? Throw down the barricades; let the paparazzi hordes loot and sack the kingdom, enjoy the rush of attention that the train wreck will bring. And whomever is still alive after showbiz has been reduced to smoldering ruins — let them figure out what to do next.
Host: Perez Hilton
Producer: Harvey Levin
Ideal Best Picture Winner: One Night in Paris
Opening Number: Celebrities are vivisected before the audience's eyes, the last remnants of their souls are ripped out and and then eaten, buffet style by the nation as a whole.
Clips Reel: A million Tweets are simultaneously projected directly into viewers' frontal lobes.
Log Line: We're Here.