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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Neil Patrick Harris

Why can't Oscars be more like Tonys (and Neil Patrick Harris)?

June 11, 2012 | 12:05 pm

Like many people who work in or cover the movie business, I've been part of countless conversations over the years -- in the months leading up to the telecast and in the halls where they take place -- about what's wrong with the Oscars. Or, in more charitable but not-fooling-anyone terms, how they can be "improved."

If you follow award season, you know the refrain. In its (understandably difficult) attempt to strike a balance between the industry types in the room and the  movie fans in their living rooms, the Oscars often fall prey to bloatedness, self-seriousness, out of touch-ness, and lack of YouTube-ableness. Those pesky sagging ratings that pundits often focus on? They're merely a symptom.

But until entering the Beacon Theatre in New York for the Neil Patrick Harris-hosted Tony Awards, which I did as a reporter Sunday night, I didn't realize just how myriad the Oscars problems were. Nor had I ever seen firsthand the mechanics of a well-done award show or how enjoyable that show  could be -- yes, even one that had to balance the needs of the room with the desires of the TV viewer.

TIMELINE: Academy Awards through the years

The host is, of course, a big part of that. But more on that in a minute.

There are, first, some very simple fixes the Oscars could look to. The Academy Awards often get criticized for including too many technical kudos that most home viewers don't care about. Producers and the Motion Picture Academy say they need to make sure everyone feels included -- it is, after all, a night to honor the entire industry -- which leaves it larding up the show with less prominent prizes.

But the Tonys have come up with an elegant solution. They indeed give out many below-the-line awards during the three hours of the telecast -- they just don't televise them. Presenters present and winners accept during the commercial breaks. It's a win-win. Nominees still get the satisfaction and thrill of hearing thousands of their peers applauding them on the industry's biggest night, and often sandwiched between the biggest prizes. But the casual viewer at home doesn't see any of it.

Instead, he or she is treated to a leaner show filled with things he or she cares about. This approach also gives the ceremony more energy, since people in the theater are less likely to get up and wander to the bar or bathroom during the commercial breaks.

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Eddie Murphy's Oscar host replacement ideas aplenty on Twitter

November 9, 2011 |  2:37 pm

Neil Patrick Harris, Billy Crystal and Ricky Gervais hosting award shows

Twitter topic of the day: Who should host the 2012 Oscars? Eddie Murphy is out of the Oscar hosting gig after Brett Ratner’s resignation from producing the telecast, and the Internet has stepped in with a slew of ideas for a new host.

The names tossed around perhaps more than any others are Oscar hosting veteran Billy Crystal and “How I Met Your Mother” star Neil Patrick Harris, who has hosted both the Tonys and Emmys. No word yet from either actor about whether they’d take on the job (though Harris did talk about anti-campaigning to host last week). Robin Williams has already told Moviefone that he’s not interested. Two-time controversial Golden Globe Awards host Ricky Gervais tweeted, “Can't believe all shouts for me to host Oscars. Really appreciate it but I don't think it's my kinda gig. Although that's the fun sometimes.”

Celebrities, journalists and other Twitter users have supplied a slew of 140-characters-or-less suggestions for the Academy — serious and joking alike.

"Does this mean Puss In Boots is hosting the Oscars?" — Damon Lindelof

"We're six hours away from the announcement that Billy Crystal is coming back." — Damon Lindelof

"Our Pick: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!" — Michael Ausiello, TVLine

"Now Eddie Murphy quits as Oscar host. Should Billy Crystal be waiting by the phone?" — Dave Karger, Entertainment Weekly

"Wait - NPH! Neil Patrick Harris is a perfect Oscar host: funny, relevant, sings, dances. He should get 1st dibs." — @HonuDan

"Now that Brett Ratner & Eddie Murphy are gone, Lars Von Trier should direct the Oscars, Mel GIbson to produce & Michael Richards to present." — Matt Lucas

"BREAKING: Dan Aykroyd to replace Eddie Murphy for Oscar host as part of a bet by two callous millionaires." — @douggpound

"My choices for next year's Oscar host: Billy Crystal, The Muppets, Ron Swanson" — @dav_mcg

"Eddie Murphy stands down as Oscar host? Someone, quick, light the Neil Patrick Harris signal! — Andrew Shaw, Lostinthemultiplex.com

"Wanted: Ricky Gervias for Oscar host!!" — Stephanie Ditta, Reuters

"Eddie Murphy quits as Oscar host. Whew! I still say bring on Oprah" — Caryn James, indieWIRE

"I guess a James Franco campaign isn't likely to work, huh?" — @WarmingGlow

"Can't believe Eddie Murphy now resigned as Oscar Host! They should get Hugh Jackman or Ellen again... they rule!!" — @KristinaBehr

"#Oscar host suggestions: Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig, Seth Meyers, Paul Rudd... What do we think?" — @2trina8

"I would like to take this moment to announce my candidacy to produce, host, and do the catering for the Oscars." — Adam B. Vary, Entertainment Weekly

"You don't need an Oscar host. The first winner presents 2nd award. That winner presents 3rd award. And so on, till the end. No commercials." — Garry Shandling


Eddie Murphy out as host of the Oscars

Brett Ratner resigns as Oscar producer after gay slur

With Eddie Murphy out of the Oscars, who should host?

— Emily Rome

Photos, from left: Neil Patrick Harris hosting the 2009 Emmy Awards (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times), Billy Crystal hosting the 2004 Oscars (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times), Ricky Gervais hosting the 2011 Golden Globes (Paul Drinkwater / NBC).


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