Reinventing The Oscars

1. Include TV. Television is no longer the poor stepsister to movies. The line between TV and film is fluid. Those both in front and behind the camera work in both paradigms. Forget the charter, forget the past, you either disrupt yourself or you get disrupted. Next year, TV too!

2. Story, story, STORY! Traditional awards shows are dead. Trying to be everything to everybody went out with the last century. You’re creating a movie. Something that can be watched again and again, irrelevant of the awards presentations. Today if you missed the Oscars, you never go back and watch the show, you know who the winners are and that’s the only thing that counts. But if the show had story, which Hollywood specializes in, that would be different.

3. Edgy! It’s like Velcro. Our loops are eager to be grabbed by your hooks. But with no hooks, with all the rough edges smoothed off, there’s nothing to attach the viewer to the enterprise. In this era truth rules. We can argue all day long whose truth it is. But worst case scenario there’s argument about elements…THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT! You want the show to elicit conversation, to have legs. There’s not much to say about today’s high concept, superhero movies, but prior to the high concept/tent pole era, this was de rigueur. And this high concept stuff may do boffo at the b.o., but streaming television has taught us it’s all about the niches, going deep therein.

4. No monologue. The monologue is only good if you make fun of yourself, for having bad jokes. The best at this was David Letterman, and he failed as an Oscar host! Then again, he was TV in an era of film, pre-internet. What do jokes have to do with movies? Vaudeville died and the monologue should too.

5. FAN INVOLVEMENT! Time to come down from the high horse and engage with the hoi polloi, who are creating all day long on platforms like YouTube and TikTok. First, you have a publicly voted Oscar. Call it “Movie of the Year,” the CMAs have “Entertainer of the Year,” despite giving out awards in very specific categories, you can do it too. And on TikTok they’ve even recreated whole movies! The best fan made movie gets shown on the telecast and the winner gets money, a deal, who knows, SOMETHING! Actually, exposure is more important than cash, people want to be stars, you’ve got to blow the winner up!

6. Social media presence. Trump showed us the power of this. The Oscars should have a daily presence on all social platforms. Facebook for old people, Twitter for the info hungry, Instagram for the visually focused and regular discussions on Clubhouse, assuming that platform still exists a year from now. An audience takes a long time to build. You’ve got to start now, with a plan, and keep at it, perseverance is everything online, and wait for word to spread. You can’t create virality artificially, you’ve got to release great content on a regular basis to achieve this.

7. STATISTICS/DATA! We live in an era of data transparency, the younger generation knows this, it’s only the older people who are ultra-concerned about privacy, the younger generations are open books. How about releasing the final vote totals? Maybe even have run-offs to make it more interesting. There shouldn’t be so many Best Picture nominees UNLESS there is ranked voting.

8. Where are they now? This clickbait always works. Check in with the stars of yore, even the ones who’ve led less than successful lives. This is what made “28 Up” so great. Neil was the most interesting character. We’re trying to get emotional involvement, people need to care!

9. No more backslapping! Just like there are salary caps in sports, there must be advertising limits. Ads just cheapen the whole affair, they’re a waste of money, it appears the studios are just trying to buy the Oscars and in many cases have succeeded, can you say Gwyneth Paltrow in “Shakespeare in Love”? Maybe a complete advertising ban. Hell, they have that in Vermont, it’s called Act 250, no billboards, and the landscape is much more beautiful.

10. No elitism. Today everybody is equal. Come down off your throne, you’re no better than we are. Maybe some footage of stars living their own boring lives. Bring the Oscars down to earth.

11. MAKE ALL THE FILMS VIEWABLE! Every film must be viewable by the audience on an established streaming platform.

12. If you die you’re immediately disqualified from competing, you get a special Oscar. We’re trying to get rid of sympathy wins here.

13. Funny/niche categories. This is what the MTV Movie Awards pioneered, and like Apple does with Android, you should steal the best ideas. They can be frivolous or serious. Best kiss or best acting against type. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re not worth watching these days.

14. One time is not enough! Look at music, Ariana Grande put out three albums in a year, today’s young acts constantly release singles, it’s only the old farts who are invested in albums, which oftentimes come and go in a weekend, despite being labored over for years. You’ve got to come up to bat constantly. And a failure no longer hurts you. As long as you have enough winners. Oscars should not be one Sunday in the winter, they must be a year-round thing!

15. Streaming platforms are your friend. I know you’re inured to that network money, but the truth is networks are history, which is why they all have streaming platforms. There must be on demand Oscar content on EVERY streaming platform!

16. Maybe instead of one show on one night, it’s Oscar week. One award per night, each on a different streaming service, and then YouTube the next day. You’ve got to build excitement.

17. Outfits. If you can’t immediately buy ’em, you can’t wear ’em. Hook up with the designers, get the goods in the store the very next day, Steve Jobs was an expert at this, immediate gratification. There’s probably more money in selling clothing than TV rights!

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