Sara Fishko is an Executive Producer and Host at WNYC, specializing in culture.
I love the Oscars telecast, always have. But my love, I now realize, is a leftover from another era. I think this year killed it off, once and for all. NO more love.
My Oscar Love started when the telecast was live, truly live. You couldn’t imagine what might happen. People cursed, they streaked across the stage, they called attention to political struggles and they broke down, sometimes completely -- streaming tears, speechless, the whole works. And mistakes were made! Cameras missed their cues, stars tripped on the way to the stage. Wardrobe items malfunctioned. And one could make one’s own decisions about how people looked, without the help of breathless stylists.
Hosts were seasoned pros with a point of view. Bob Hope wanted his own Oscar, that was his running gag –and he never got one. Johnny was a TV guy amused by the antics of the movie biz. Satire? Maybe a little – but it was sincere satire, if there can be such a thing. Billy Crystal had a charming irreverence, and he was actually funny.
This year it completely missed the boat. No wit. No real stories. I feel as if next year can only be worse. The whole thing is moving in a stunningly bad direction.
My solution? Look to sports. The Oscars are like a sporting event, as many have observed. So: why not turn to sports producers and hosts to bring it alive? If there’s one thing sports coverage knows how to do, it is tell a good, heart-tugging story. It there’s another, it is build suspense. The sports folks know how to move toward a Big Finish, and work a good post-game show.
There was more heart in the Carmelo debut in the Knicks/Bucks game the other night at the Garden than in all the zillion-dollar production numbers at the Oscars Sunday night.
I say USE the drama of the Oscars. Do it on a clock. Go into overtime. Take sides. Do play-by-play. Tell stories. Let humans do what they do, and let them do it live on camera.
THEN maybe I could learn to love again.