Proving the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can drag themselves into the 21st Century, the Oscar org announced a new contest today that allows the public to vote on an aspect of this year's 82nd Academy Awards.  No, voters won't get to determine any winners -- perish that thought -- but they will get to decide which gown is worn by one of the many Awards escorts during the show.

Beginning today at 5 PM PT, the public can vote on Oscar.com in the "Oscar Designer Challenge 2010."  Designers from around Los Angeles, er, the country are participating including:  Fernanda Carneiro (Los Angeles), Elda De La Rosa, (Chicago), Ivy Higa (New York), Phong Hong (Los Angeles), Rania Salibi (Phoenix), Oday Shakar (Los Angeles), Ari Sheuhmelian (Los Angeles), Oliver Tolentino (Los Angeles) and Kelsy Zimba (New York). (Who knew all the good designers were in LA? Certainly not the industry in NY...).  Voting ends on March 1 with the winner being announced during the live ABC arrivals show before the big show.

Besides getting the honor of seeing their frock worn on the biggest awards show on television, the winner will also receive two tickets to attend the Oscars ceremony. Considering all the politicking and backstabbing going on across Hollywood to land tickets to the show, that's a pretty snazzy prize.  Unfortunately, cash or a classy Marie Claire fashion spread is not included.

But wait! There's more!  Beginning March 3, "Oscars Designer Challenge: Behind the Dress" will debut on Oscar.com documenting the competition.  It appears Oscar fashion coordinator Patty Fox will be the web series' Tim Gunn.  With any luck, it might be more entertaining than the big show itself.

Next year, how about just making a contest like this part of a "Project Runway" season guys? Then people might actually be more invested.  Just an idea.

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