Category: Oscars

Oscars 2012: Billy Crystal telecast is flat (but doesn't slip) among young adults

Maybe the Justin Bieber stunt worked for Billy Crystal.

Sunday's Oscar telecast delivered a total of 39.3 million viewers, up 4% compared with last year, according to Nielsen. And it was flat in the demographic advertisers care about most, adults ages 18 to 49, with an 11.7 rating.

That may not sound world-beating, but it counts as a victory for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which rolled the dice by bringing back the 63-year-old host Billy Crystal as host. The academy has been struggling for years with an exodus of young viewers from the annual awards telecast, which it counts on for crucial licensing income. Critics said that hiring a sexagenarian host didn't exactly help project an image of youthfulness. In a filmed bit that opened the show, Crystal alluded to the dilemma by greeting teen idol Bieber, who said he was there to help capture "the 18 to 24 demographic."

Photos: Red carpet | Winners | Quotes | Show | Backstage | Best & worst | More photos

Those industry worries didn't seem to faze the audience, which tuned in to watch "The Artist" take the top prize as Best Picture. ABC estimated that 76 million viewers watched at least six minutes of the broadcast.

In an interesting sidelight, ABC also said that its Oscar app was downloaded 370,000 times this year -- an 1154% leap compared with last year.

What did you think of the show?


Oscars: Complete coverage

Sacha Baron Cohen punks Ryan Seacrest in red carpet stunt

Oscar 2011: Who or what was to blame for low ratings?

-- Scott Collins

Photo: Billy Crystal serenades director Martin Scorsese at Sunday's Oscars. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Sunday's Oscars up slightly in early ratings

Click here to see more photos. The critics may have been underwhelmed, but Sunday's Oscars hosted by Billy Crystal rose slightly in the ratings compared with last year.

The telecast, which awarded best picture to "The Artist," delivered a 25.5 household rating/38 share in 56 top U.S. markets, according to Nielsen. That was up 4% compared with last year (24.5 rating/37 share).

The top five markets were New York (36.9 rating), Chicago (33.8), West Palm Beach, Fla., (32.5), Los Angeles (31.9) and Boston (31.9).

PHOTOS: 2012 Academy Awards

Some reviewers felt the program played it too safe. Times TV critic Mary McNamara found the frequent allusions to cinema's glory days "very, very familiar" and felt the program was sometimes slow-moving.

Complete ratings, including total-viewer figures, will be available later Monday.

What did you think of the show?


Oscars: Complete coverage

Sacha Baron Cohen punks Ryan Seacrest in red carpet stunt

Oscar 2011: Who or what was to blame for low ratings?

--Scott Collins

Photo: Billy Crystal was host of Sunday's Academy Awards telecast. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

Academy Awards 2012: What time are the Oscars on TV?

Academy Awards 2012

Looking for information about the 2013 Oscars? You'll find that here.

What time are the Oscars? Despite what you may see online, the 84th Academy Awards show starts at 5:30 p.m. Pacific on ABC.

Yet on the academy site and, the promos clearly state: "Live Oscar Sunday Feb. 26 7e | 4 p." So what gives? In reality, that's when red carpet coverage begins in earnest on flagship network ABC. But the show itself, which will feature Billy Crystal as host and Cirque du Soleil performing at the Hollywood & Highland complex, won't start until 90 minutes later.

Whether you're just interested in the ceremony or being fully immersed in everything Oscars, there's plenty of coverage before, during and after the show. 

Oscars 2012: Cheat Sheet | Key Scenes | Pundit's picks | Ballot

Among the questions for the night: Will "The Artist" continue its awards show run by taking home the best picture Oscar, or will a film such as "The Descendants," "The Help" or "Hugo" be able to knock it off its perch? Will Viola Davis become only the second African American actress to win the Oscar for best actress for her role in "The Help"? And will Sacha Baron Cohen try to show up as his "Dictator" character?

You can follow all the action live on The Envelope. For TV coverage, see the list below.

Continue reading »

Sacha Baron Cohen takes his Oscars war to the media

Sacha Baron Cohen

Sacha Baron Cohen's plan to show up at Sunday's Oscar ceremony in character as Adm. Gen. Shabazz Aladeen, the focus of his upcoming movie "The Dictator," may have been scuttled by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but Cohen (or at least his character) isn't taking the slight quietly. He's taking the fight to the media.

Cohen called into NBC's "Today" show on Friday morning, in character as Aladeen, upset about being banned from the Oscars red carpet. (Cohen is still welcome to attend, but only as himself.)

Playing along, hosts Ann Curry and Carl Quintanilla asked the dictator about the red carpet ban. Aladeen responded that he had issued an ultimatum to the academy, "They have until midday on Sunday to give me my tickets back. If they do not, they will see and face unforeseen and unimaginable consequences."


When asked what those unimaginable consequences might be, Aladeen responded, "Let's just say oil prices might be raised."

On Wednesday, academy President Tom Sherak told The Times that he had warned Paramount Pictures, the studio distributing "The Dictator," that Cohen showing up in character was "a bad thing to do."

Curry made some effort to get Cohen to break character, asking Aladeen what he thought of Cohen's performance in the Oscar-nominated film "Hugo," but Aladeen wouldn't bite, responding that he hadn't heard of "Hugo" and that the only films shown in his country were those written by and starring himself. "Hugo" was also distributed by Paramount.

He also tried to keep the anchors off-balance by throwing out questions such as "How is your eunuch, Al Roker?"

The joking ultimatum against the academy was repeated from a short video Cohen released to in which Aladeen addressed the academy as the "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Zionists."

It's still unclear whether or not Cohen will show up at the Oscars on Sunday at all, or if he really intends to retaliate in some way against the academy. But as a way of drumming up interest in his upcoming movie in May, he's got the wheels of the promotion machine cranking in high gear already.


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Who's who in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences

Sacha Baron Cohen: What he wears on the red carpet could hurt him

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Sacha Baron Cohen at the Golden Globe Awards. Credit: Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.

Oprah Winfrey is bringing her annual Oscar special to OWN

Oprah Winfrey

It's been two years since Barbara Walters put an end to her annual Oscar special and almost a year since Oprah ended her daily talk show. But that doesn't mean Oscar fans will go lacking in gauzy, feel-good sit-downs with Oscar nominees this year. Oprah has announced her plan to begin airing an annual Oscar special on her cable channel, OWN, beginning this year.

The three lucky Oprah interviewees/Oscar nominees are "The Help's" Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (lead actress and supporting actress nominees, respectively) and "Moneyball's" Jonah Hill (supporting actor nominee).

During the run of Oprah's daily talk show, she hosted a traditional Monday post-Oscars show with the winners to great ratings success. The new two-hour special will sit the nominees down before the big night. It'll even air well in advance of the Oscars, on Feb. 15. (The awards are handed out Feb. 26.)

In early January, Oprah's current show, "Oprah's Next Chapter," premiered with an average of 924,000 viewers during its first month on the air.

The Oscar special probably won't lack in enthusiasm. Octavia Spencer couldn't quite contain herself on Twitter, posting on Feb. 7, "OMG a surreal day! two words OPRAH WINFREY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

The Oprah side of that enounter will be seen on Wednesday.


-- Patrick Kevin Day
Photo: Oprah Winfrey. Credit: George Burns / OWN

New version of 'Coma' on A&E to star several Oscar winners

Oscar winners Richard Dreyfuss, Ellen Burstyn and Geena Davis have landed in the cast of A&E's upcoming reboot of "Coma," a modern-day retelling of the best-selling novel by Robin Cook and the film that starred Michael Douglas and Genevieve Bujold.

Also in the cast of the four-hour miniseries is Oscar nominee James Woods, Lauren Ambrose ("Six Feet Under"), Steven Pasquale ("Rescue Me"), Joe Morton ("The Good Wife"), James Rebhorn ("Law & Order") and Joseph Mazello ("The Pacific"). The two-night event will be produced by Ridley and Tony Scott and directed by Mikail Salomon ("Band of Brothers").

"Coma" revolves around a doctor who discovers that something sinister is happening at her hospital after routine procedures send more than a few seemingly healthy patients into comas on the operating table.


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--Greg Braxton 

Photo: Ellen Burstyn in "Our Fathers" in 2005. Credit: Ken Woroner / Showtime


James Franco blames Anne Hathaway for Oscar hosting fiasco

James Franco has a theory for why his Oscar co-hosting performance was so trashed: It was Anne Hathaway's fault!

On a pretaped clip for Friday's "Late Show With David Letterman" on CBS, Letterman asks why critics suggested that Franco was stoned during the Academy Awards telecast.

"I think I know why," the actor replies. "Because, I love her, but Anne Hathaway is so energetic, I think the Tasmanian Devil would look stoned standing next to Anne Hathaway… She has a lot of energy."


Franco also blames fans for having a double standard about the Oscars. "Here's the hypocritical thing:  Leading up to the Oscars, I couldn't hear enough about how, 'Oh, people don't care about the Oscars anymore, it's dead, it's boring, it's at the end of a long awards season, who cares about it?' Well, as soon as you don't host the way they want you to, they suddenly care and they won't shut up about it," he says.

Letterman, who had his own panned stint as host of the 1995 Oscars, commiserated.

What do you think of Franco's rationale, Show Trackers?


Oscar ratings drop as critics scorn James Franco and Anne Hathaway

Carrie Ann Inaba of "Dancing With the Stars" gets engaged on TV

-- Scott Collins (



What does veteran Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch think of James Franco's hosting skills? Hint: Not much

Franco_tweets It's the performance that James Franco can't seem to escape: co-hosting the 83rd Academy Awards ... and not doing it well.

Veteran Oscar writer Bruce Vilanch has finally spoken out about the actor's somewhat slothful attempt at emceeing the biggest night in Hollywood. In an interview with Vulture, Vilanch attributed the weirdness of it all to Franco being outside his "comfort zone."

Read more about what Vilanch had to say (and how Franco responded), over at our sister blog, Awards Tracker.

--Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: James Franco, center, is seen backstage at the 83rd Academy Awards. Credit: Associated Press /Chris Carlson

Were low Oscar ratings the fault of Anne Hathaway and James Franco or 'The King's Speech'?

Colinfirth ABC’s Oscar telecast on Sunday was supposed to ride a wave of popular resurgence for awards shows.

But looks like viewers didn’t get that message.

Countering a trend toward higher ratings this year for the Golden Globes, the Grammys and other awards shows, the critically scorned 83rd Academy Awards rounded up just 37.6 million total viewers, slumping 10% compared with last year, according to the Nielsen Co.  

Worse, the Oscars also tumbled in the key category of adults aged 18 to 49, despite the youngest hosting combo in history with actors James Franco (32) and Anne Hathaway (28). The three-hour-plus show delivered an 11.7 rating, for an 11% drop in that advertiser-friendly category.

And then there were the reviews, which mostly ranged from the unimpressed to the downright brutal. Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara wrote that the cohosts did everything expected of them but nevertheless “played it safe.” The Hollywood Reporter said it was one of the all-time-worst Oscars telecasts. Commenters on the Times’ Show Tracker site criticized Hathaway as overeager and Franco as too detached.  

“When Billy Crystal showed up onstage, I found myself hoping that the producers had brought him in as an emergency replacement,” ShariAnne Brill, a longtime TV programming and research analyst, said of the hosting combo.

As harsh as much of the reaction was, the show’s numbers actually could have been far worse. This year’s ratings fared better than in 2009, when “Slumdog Milionaire” won (36.3 million), and in 2008, when the best picture prize went to “No Country for Old Men” (32 million).

In fact, while much of the criticism centered on the hosts, analysis has repeatedly shown that Oscar ratings are closely tied to the box-office performances of the best-picture nominees. In 1998, the year the smash hit “Titanic” won, more than 57 million viewers tuned in.

This year’s winner, “The King’s Speech,” a surprise hit starring British actor Colin Firth that has grossed more than $114 million, led a pack of successful-if-not-blockbuster films (“True Grit,” “The Fighter”) that foretold restrained Oscar viewership.  Indeed, one of the few contenders with a huge gross, “Toy Story 3” ($415 million), was an animated film and therefore had no flesh-and-blood stars to root for.

“There was no set-'em-on-fire movie or star up for an Oscar,” said Paul Levinson, a professor and pop culture expert at Fordham University. “ ‘The King’s Speech’ is a superb movie, but it’s not going to be remembered as a movie that changed the course of cinematic history.”

In recent years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has tried various tactics to boost viewership, including expanding the best-picture field and experimenting with hosts ranging from Jon Stewart to Chris Rock.

Sunday’s outing would seem to suggest that no matter who the hosts are, their power to shake up viewing patterns remains fairly limited. Jeffrey McCall, a media professor at DePauw University, argued that viewers are wearying of Hollywood self-congratulation and crude moments such as Melissa Leo’s blurting of an obscenity when winning for supporting actress (the language was bleeped out by ABC).  

“The hosts last night were not that entertaining,” he wrote in an e-mail, “but the show wouldn’t have been saved even by better hosts.”


Oscar ratings slip 7% as critics scorn hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco

— Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)

Photo: Colin Firth with his Oscar for "The King's Speech." Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.

Serene Branson returns to the red carpet two weeks after Grammy scare

Serene Branson is thankful she did not have another YouTube moment on Oscar night.

The KCBS-TV Channel 2 reporter who became an unwitting media sensation two weeks ago when she began to speak incoherently during a live report following the Grammy Awards returned to the Hollywood red carpet scene Sunday, filing several live reports before and after the Academy Awards.

"It was great, and it felt so good to be back on the red carpet," Branson said Monday. "It was a long day, but everything went well." She added that she nabbed a little bit of celebrity status  from publicists, other journalists and even an actor from "The Fighter" who recognized her.

Branson pointed out that the ceremony marked the end of a week when she'd returned to work full time, filing reports of several stories ranging from the Somali pirate hijacking to the troubles surrounding Charlie Sheen. But many of her colleagues were openly concerned about her handling the demands of covering the Oscars and kept checking in with her to make sure she felt OK.

Continue reading »

Oscar ratings slip 7% as critics scorn hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco

Many critics dissed the hosting combo of James Franco and Anne Hathaway, but considering that the ceremony lacked a huge crowd-pleasing nominee such as last year's "Avatar," Sunday's 83rd Academy Awards telecast on ABC held up pretty well in the ratings.

The three-hour-plus show scored a 24.6 household rating in the top 56 TV markets, according to early results from the Nielsen Co. That was down 7% compared with last year's broadcast.

Red-carpet But the ceremony, which awarded the best picture prize to "The King's Speech," slipped just 2% among viewers ages 18 to 49. That may have been thanks to Hathaway and Franco, the youngest cohosts in Oscar history and an effort by the academy, as Hathaway alluded to in an early joke, to be "appealing" to a youthful demographic.

But the critics were mostly less than kind. The Hollywood Reporter said the awards show "could go down as one of the worst Oscar telecasts in history." Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara said the pair "played it safe" but nevertheless delivered what was expected of them.

More detailed ratings, including a total-viewer count, will be released later Monday.

What did you think of the show?

-- Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)


Television review: Anne Hathaway and James Franco play it safe

Oscars ceremony was one of the shortest in recent times

The British are coming? Decoding the 'King's Speech' win

Big Picture: The triumph of Hollywood conservative values

Photo: James Franco and Anne Hathaway during Sunday's Oscar telecast. Credit: Michael Yada / European Pressphoto Agency



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