Dear Neil Patrick Harris: Listen to these Oscar Show suggestions before it's too late
It's a little over a week away from your debut as the host of Hollywood's biggest night so chances are this correspondence will simply arrive a little too late.
The Academy Awards telecast is a monstrosity to put on and takes months to plan. In fact, the show's overall creative direction has usually been decided long before the Oscar nominations are even announced. And frankly, we're worried. The announcements from the Academy so far have made us wonder if your producers are intent on turning this into the biggest song and dance Academy Awards ever. So, better late than never to pass along some unsolicited advice, right?
Honestly, we shouldn't be even pestering you about all this. We'd address this to show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, but we don't think they'll listen. The nation's TV critics have pretty much given them negative reviews for their past two producing efforts and the only lesson they seemed to have learned is that maybe Seth MacFarlane wasn't a good choice to host.
We're reaching out to you because you actually have more experience at awards shows then they do! You've earned critical acclaim for hosting the Tony Awards four times and won an Emmy as a producer for each one of them. You've even hosted the Emmy Awards (twice!). You know how to judge a room at an awards show arguably better than anyone not named Billy Crystal. (Should we butter you up even more?)
But, again, we're worried Neil. You're great at the song and dance. Everyone knows and appreciates your talent. You made the Tony Awards must-see TV for every gay man and musical theater queen (not one and the same) for the past few years. Shoot, you just won a Tony Award for your performance in the revival of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." And from the outside looking in, this year's Academy Awards feels like a cascade of non-stop musical numbers ready to shower the globe with jazz hands.
There is the original number the "Frozen" songwriters are creating for you (supposedly not even the opening of the show), Anna Kendrick is on board for a song (we're guessing that rumored "Sound of Music" tribute), Jennifer Hudson is retuning to the show (certainly not to crack jokes), Jack Black is "performing" (he's sung on the show before) and that's just what we know about as we write you. And it doesn't even take into account all the live performances of the five nominated original songs. Hey, we love musical numbers, but it's an awards show about the movies right? At some point it needs to be about cinema, right?
We've come to the stage of acceptance where we're just preparing ourselves for a mini-Tonys. That may not be a bad thing with your involvement, but if you haven't figured it out already we just don't trust your producers (you saw "Peter Pan Live!" right?). Still, the show is always in flux until the actual broadcast takes place. There is always time to fiddle with it somewhat (we hope).
In that spirit, we've come up with nine suggestions that might help shape this Oscars into one of the best ever [you can find them in the embedded gallery below]. Even if 80% of the viewers at home have never heard of "Boyhood" or "Birdman" before Oscar night and they all believe "American Sniper" is the obvious Best Picture winner (whoopsie) you could make this an Academy Awards to remember (in a good way). So, we know nine changes to the show might be tough, but two or three? Just trust us on this, will you?
*Someone who still believes Chris Rock and Jon Stewart should be hosting on a regular basis.