Alibi V.16 No.8 • Feb 22-28, 2007 

Idiot Box

Award Weary

The 79th Annual Academy Awards on ABC

Why do we watch the Oscars? It’s a valid question. The telecast itself is rarely riveting television. The opening monologue is sometimes funny. The “who died last year” tribute is always worth a look. But aside from that, there isn’t a whole lot of entertainment to be found. Not even the red carpet arrivals are particularly interesting, as stars gave up wearing crazy crap years ago.

Keep in mind that the night is really just there for the five-thousand-something members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to slap each other on the back for a job well done. Ultimately, no one outside of the industry really cares who wins “Best Sound Editing.” Will it be Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman for Flags of Our Fathers or will it be Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman for Letters from Iwo Jima? I’m guessing that, unless your name is Alan Robert Murray or Bub Asman, you’re using the Best Sound Editing category for a bathroom break.

Even though it has precious little effect on us Idiot Box viewers, it remains one of the most televised events in the world, seen in more than 100 countries. So what do we have to look forward to this year?

Sadly, there are no great Oscar hosts left anymore. Johnny Carson’s gone. Billy Crystal’s burned out. David Letterman and John Stewart were one-hit wonders. So, this year, it falls to warm and fuzzy lesbian comedienne Ellen DeGeneres to take up the tux as emcee. On the plus side, she dances, she likes animals and her humor is mild enough for middle America. On the negative side, nobody in Thailand has ever heard of her, her most visible contribution to the film industry was 1996’s Mr. Wrong and Tim Hardaway certainly won’t be tuning in.

Starwise, it’s a decent year. Ben Affleck, Cate Blanchett, Steve Carell, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman and Kate Winslet are among the beautiful people volunteering to hand out statues. Of course, if they’re allowed to do anything more than read the nominees off a cue card, it will be a shock.

Best Original Song performances sometimes add a little glamor to the evening. However, three of this year’s nominated songs come from Dreamgirls. One is from Cars and the last is from Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Expect to see plenty of the girls from Dreamgirls (Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose). Of course, if you’re not a fan of Dreamgirls (or you already own the soundtrack), you can always look forward to the night’s other performances by Celine Dion, James Taylor and Randy Newman. It’ll be like an evening of Lite-FM!

Until they start cutting down the categories (sorry, Best Documentary Short Subject), allowing the stars to blabber on as long as they want and resurrect the production number (I’m actually starting to miss the likes of Rob Lowe and Snow White), the Oscars are stuck as a stoic celebration of Hollywood’s ability to read really long lists.

The 79 th Annual Academy Awards air Sunday, Feb. 25, at 6:30 p.m. on KOAT-7.