The addition of Kristin Chenoweth to the 85th Academy Awards telecast marks a major departure from the typical: she and host Seth MacFarlane will perform a musical grand finale at the close of the show. This is one of the most exciting elements that has been revealed about the telecast to date, so it is no small wonder that media-savvy producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron saved it until just a few days before showtime. Usually, the Oscars end with whichever Hollywood luminary they've recruited to present the Best Picture category coming onstage in a vague panic because they're running long, stating that "without further ado, here are the nominees," and then after the nominees are listed, ripping the envelope open and calling out the winner with almost zero fanfare. The acceptance speech happens, and then the Master of Ceremonies yells a frantic goodnight and your local broadcast affiliate immediately switches to the news. It's all very anticlimactic.
Not this year, said Zadan and Meron, and more power to them. "What's happened in the last number of years is they've only celebrated the nominees and the winners of that year," Zadan told media. "We're certainly celebrating the winners and nominees of this year, but in addition to that, we've broadened the base, and we're hopefully going to entertain an audience that loves movies." This is music to the ears of the average viewer, as the ceremony has been criticized in the recent past for lacking relevance and boring the viewers at home. The clear focus from the beginning this time around has been to throw caution to the wind and create a genuine variety show for the viewing audience, rather than just try to build a series of jokes and disjointed musical performances around the nominees.
Kristin Chenoweth will also headline the red carpet coverage for ABC, which is also being produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. "We have newspeople there, but we also wanted somebody who is not a newsperson, who is a star and who is friends with all these people so that the conversation can be different," Zadan explained. "It's more like old friends seeing each other and getting together." Even the red carpet show is getting a makeover this year.
Oscar viewers should be very optimistic about the entertainment quality of this show. With a gutsy choice of host in Seth MacFarlane, an unusually young and exciting lineup of talent, a focus on music and a completely new, streamlined structure to the show, it's looking like this might be the broadcast that saves the Academy Awards telecast from being a disappointing relic. The 85th Academy Awards will be broadcast live on the East Coast on Sunday, February 24th in prime time on ABC.
Photo: cliff1066Â™, Flickr