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Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is broadcast in special installments throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.
On the docket today…
In the aftermath of Sunday's (March 2) Academy Awards telecast, Gregory Ellwood and I took our place in the HitFix video studio to talk about the awards and the show itself.
In the video posted last night, we talked about the "12 Years a Slave"/"Gravity" split, Cate Blanchett's win and the exhaustive Oscar season as a whole.
In this video, Greg and I talk about the always problematic Oscars telecast itself, including Ellen DeGeneres' mixed bag performance as host, as well as the less impressive production elements included filler montages and a bloated In Memoriam segment.
Check out the analysis above.
Alessandra Stanley discusses the presence of social causes, notably gay rights, in last night's ceremony. Citing Jared Leto's impassioned acceptance speech for "Dallas Buyers Club" and Ellen DeGeneres's playful allusions to her sexuality on stage, she writes: "Hollywood is so righteous, suddenly, about gay rights, and that’s a little puzzling because for so long, movies were part of the problem. Professional basketball has its first openly gay player, Jason Collins, but it’s still hard to think of romantic leads — male or female — who are A-list Hollywood movie stars and also openly gay." [New York Times]
Early Oscar numbers show Ellen topping Seth MacFarlane
So far, Ellen DeGeneres’ 2nd stint is on par with her first.
ABC’s Oscar livestream was plagued with outages
The feed on the internet constantly cut in and out of the broadcast.
No topic is off limits tonight when Jimmy Kimmel interviews Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
"Jimmy's been intrigued by this story and probably has a thousand questions — more now than ever,” says producer Jason Schrift.
“Game of Thrones” unveils the first 4 episode titles of Season 4
Season 4 kicks off with “Two Swords” followed by “The Lion and the Flower,” “Breaker of Chains” and “Oathkeeper.” PLUS: Check out the George R.R. Martin-blessed “Game of Thrones” art exhibit.
Oscar’s “In Memoriam” snubs include Cory Monteith, James Avery, Dennis Farina
The Oscar website does, however, feature many of the snubbed, including “Vampire Diaries’” Sarah Jones, who was killed by a train making a movie in Georgia.
The Military Channel today transforms into the American Heroes Channel
As the new head of the American Heroes Channel says, "Heroism transcends the battlefield.”
“Bachelor” Juan Pablo’s bachelorette Renee Oteri is already engaged
Oteri made the final four of this current season.
Katie Findlay joins Shonda Rhimes’ “How to Get Away” — is “Carrie Diaries” is doomed?
Findlay is already the co-star of the CW series.
“30 Rock’s” Tituss Burgess to play Ellie Kemper’s BFF on NBC
The former member of Tracy Jordan’s wife’s entourage is joining the cast of “Tooken.”
“HIMYM” wraps filming
One of the final scenes involves a yellow umbrella.
Stephen Colbert delivers speech at a controversial security conference
Privacy activists had requested that Colbert skip the speech due to the conference’s ties to the NSA.
Piers Morgan expects to stay at CNN to do “big name” interviews
"I’ll make a deal to do 20 or 25 shows a year,” says Morgan, "all interviews with big names. That’s what I wanted to do in the first place, not reports on snow storms and that kind of thing.”
Arby’s spends $44,000 on Pharrell’s big Grammys hat
"We're HAPPY to support a great cause & get our hat back,” said the fast food chain.
“House of Cards” meets “The West Wing”
It’s the latest mashup parody!
“Teen Mom 2” star Kailyn Lowry releasing her memoir
The “16 and Pregnant” veteran will release "Pride Over Pity” next month.
Oscars overindulged this year, as if it had all the time in the world
"By reverting to basic awards-show conviviality and glamour,” says Hank Stuever, "the show got slightly more classy, but it also overindulged in its reverential Hollywood worship — weighing down the first half with meaningless clip montages, telling us about budding filmmaker awards and taking care of other industry-supporting business that the Academy likes to conduct but nobody likes to watch. At 31 / 2 hours, the show ran about as long as usual; it just seemed much longer. The orchestra appeared to have given up on rushing acceptance speeches with wrap-it-up cues. It was a show that spent the night acting as though it had all the time in the world — tacking on Bette Midler singing 'Wind Beneath My Wings' after the 'In Memoriam' reel instead of during it; the perfect song to accompany the show’s sense of bloat."
Ellen flopped, and the Oscars became an endurance test
"As a television event, this year's Oscars was more like an endurance test,” says Tim Goodman. "It was a turgid affair, badly directed, poorly produced and featuring an endless string of either tired or wince-inducing moments by DeGeneres, who, by the last 30 or so minutes, seemed to have given up entirely.”
It was the best Oscar broadcast since the last time Ellen hosted
"DeGeneres's task was not an easy one,” says Robert Bianco: "An Oscar host has to entertain viewers at home, many of whom want to see stars mocked — along with the actors in the hall — most of whom don't want to be mocked. Go too far pleasing one side, and you lose the other. That's a tough balancing act, but DeGeneres has mastered it. The key is that she both exudes and creates goodwill. The crowd stays with her because they know that while jabs will be thrown, no blood will be drawn.”
The Oscar telecast is "un-screw-upable”
"The Academy Awards telecast was too long,” says Matt Zoller Seitz. "It didn't spend its time wisely. The repartee was weak. There were too many montages and too many moments where the stars, the host included, seemed full of themselves. And it was still awesome. Why? Probably because the Oscars telecast is by its nature un-screw-upable.”
Ellen seemed to be doing an “SNL” Kate McKinnon impression of herself
She really fell in love with her cuteness as the night went on, says David Wiegand. "She gathered a bunch of stars to take a group selfie, whose retweets then crashed Twitter,” he says. "She ordered pizza for the audience and spent time collecting money for it in Pharrell Williams' hat. As the hour grew later and later, she became the living, boring embodiment of overstaying one's welcome."
Ellen made the Oscars cool again with her Twitter-breaking selfie
"Thanks to the record-breaking Oscar picture that temporarily shut down Twitter,” says Marcus James Dixon, "people are talking about the Academy Awards in a way they haven't done in years, even decades. Our nation's youth obviously had a lot to do with it, as they immediately began tweeting and Facebooking the superstar photo to friends, followers, family members and everyone in between, making it the most shared picture in Twitter history by the time the final credits rolled."
Ellen was a throwback to Johnny Carson and Bob Hope
Ellen, says Brian Lowry, "is in many ways one of the few talents suited to this sort of steadfastly middle-of-the-road take on the Oscars – able to joke around with celebrities from June Squibb to Liza Minnelli to Jennifer Lawrence, without ever coming across as mean-spirited. That’s as it should be, since there’s certainly enough nastiness and snark to go around. Let the Twitter-verse buzz about Kim Novak, John Travolta’s garbled introduction of Menzel or Midler’s clipped comment after her performance. Inside the Dolby, let the good (OK, maybe just inoffensive) times roll.”
Producers “over-corrected” for Seth MacFarlane
"The preternaturally congenial DeGeneres was so intent on establishing herself as the anti-Seth to the live audience — 'let's try to make this all about you,' she said early with more sincerity than sarcasm — that she seemed to forget she was at the helm of a famously unwieldy live television show,” says Mary McNamara.
Claim: Ellen’s pizza joke took up 12 minutes and 54 seconds of the Oscars
That’s according to Rainn Wilson, who apparently timed it. PLUS: Did the pizza guy get the tip, and was the pizza any good?
Was Ellen doing a Stephen Colbert impression?
Like Colbert does to Republicans, Ellen seemed to be casting herself as an Oscar believer and insider who was subtly mocking the whole event.
The whole broadcast was like a party-sized order of cheese pizza
"You weren’t going to go to your grave craving it,” says James Poniewozik. "It was a little bland. But nobody actively hates it, and at least there was a lot of it. A whoooooole lot; while the broadcast ran an unfortunately standard three and a half hours, it felt slack and slowly paced by the producers.”
Fast National ratings for Sunday, March 2, 2014.
Early numbers are in for Sunday night and, not surprisingly, they favor ABC and its broadcast of the 86th Academy Awards.
In addition to the usual caveats, there are a couple points of information:
1) ABC promises time zone-adjusted fast nationals for 3 p.m. ET, give or take, and those numbers will accurately depict ratings for the Oscars. These numbers only depict time period data and, as with Emmys, Golden Globes and Super Bowl ratings, they're essentially meaningless. I write them up anyway, but only because I assume you won't put any more stock in them than "essentially meaningless."
2) While the Oscars continued far later, the official Nielsen end-time for the Oscars will be 11:41, which was when the last national commercial spot aired.
3) The 2014 Academy Awards telecast is up over last year in metered market households and may be on track for the biggest overall numbers since 2005. But that doesn't mean anything. Remember how the most recent Super Bowl didn't seem to be tracking toward another audience record? And then it turned out to be the most program ever? Yeah. Numbers change.
On to the numbers, which include inaccurate Oscars numbers, plus slightly more accurate tallies for "The Amazing Race: All-Stars" and two newsmagazines.
The first question that would seem to apply when regarding any sequel is "Does this feel like it is of a piece with the first film?" It doesn't have to be the same movie to be a successful sequel, but it should do something interesting. It should either be a response to the first film or a deliberately different type of film or it should build on some interesting story thread or it should enhance our understanding of the world or the characters. By that standard, "300: Rise Of An Empire" is a worthy sequel to "300," stylistically consistent and equally loony, featuring what may well be the first truly can't-miss performance in a film this year.
It would not shock me if, twenty years from now, people talk about this film the way they talk about "Poltergeist" now, simply accepting it as common knowledge that Zack Snyder "really" directed the film. It is so precise in the way it builds off the first film's visual style and so carefully built to wrap around the events of the first film narratively that it feels more like deleted scenes from the first film instead of something that stands alone. That may sound like an insult, but it's not. I would assume Snyder, who co-wrote the script with Kurt Johnstad, probably signed off on every single storyboard, and I am sure Noam Murro was given full access to all the resources that Snyder had at his disposal. It's remarkable how much this feels like it is simply more of the same story, told the same way.
Jimmy Kimmel spoofs viral videos by turning them into celeb-studded trailers
Check out Ameowdeus, starring Kevin Spacey. PLUS: What was up with Kimmel’s “America-hating” skit on the Oscar pre-show?, and Spacey plays a 1985 Johnny Carson with special guest a teenage Kimmel, and Mayor Rob Ford shows up early to tonight's "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
“12 Years a Slave’s” Oscar-winning screenwriter credits “Fresh Prince”
Will Smith gave John Ridley his first job, in a career that later included serving as co-executive producer of “The Wanda Sykes Show” and a producer on “Third Watch."
“SNL’s” Taran Killam proud to be part of this year’s Oscar Best Picture
“I’m in the best movie of the year!!!” says Killam, whose "12 Years a Slave" character helps kidnap Chiwetel Ejiofor at the beginning of the movie.
Oscars played “Let it Go” from “Frozen” too late for kids to stay up
Even Shonda Rhimes was upset it took so long, tweeting: "My 2 yr old is in bed. Tomorrow, when she finds out Idina sang without her, it's gonna get ugly up in here."
E! presenter asks Mindy Kaling what “color” guy she likes
“Girl, kiss some black men on the show,” Kaling was told on the Oscar red carpet.
This happens every year, so I should stop complaining about it. Every year, it seems that "The Amazing Race" manages to start one week ahead of the Oscars, so it's one ordinary week of recapping responsibilities and then...
BAM... An evening spent covering the Academy Awards, followed by a late-night "Amazing Race" recap.
All that means is that I already had most of my soul slurped from my brain by Ellen DeGeneres taking selfies and ordering pizza, John Travolta bumbling Idina Menzel's name, the discovery that Kim Novak is still alive, various "12 Years a Slave" people forgetting to thank each other, Matthew McConaughey's three rules to live by and other bits of Oscar silliness. I'm sleepy.
However, it was an eventful episode of "The Amazing Race" and even if it wasn't a perfect episode, some pretty big things happen and those things need to be discussed, so I'm going to try to stay awake and I'll do my best to knock out the major points after the break…
Daniel Fienberg and Gregory Ellwood took a few minutes, with champagne glasses still in hand, to discuss the results of the 86th Academy Awards. From "12 Years A Slave" beating the odds to win best picture to a number of contenders such as "The Wolf of Wall Street," "Nebraska," "American Hustle" and "Philomena" coming home empty handed to "Dallas Buyers Club" surviving the naysayers to win two major acting awards.
The 86th annual Academy Awards are over and it was "12 Years a Slave" that won the industry's top honor. The show built around Hollywood's annual back-patting ceremony was, as ever, full of ups and downs. So what did Team HitFix find to be the best and worst of the 2014 Oscarcast? Click through the gallery story below to find out!