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February 23, 2009

Oscar ratings bump


There was no droning, monotone Sid Ganis speech, and the suits from PriceWaterhouseCoopers didn't get their usual time in the spotlight.

If those had been the only two changes to this year's Oscar telecast, that would've been a decent start for us. Truth was, there was a much broader revamp, as the Academy and first-time producers Larry Mark and Bill Condon had promised.

Much to discuss on this Day After, like why in the world "Last Chance Harvey" got even one second of montage time, but we'll pick a place and start:

First, the ratings. In other words, did the advance hype translate to more eyeballs watching the "81st Annual Academy Awards?" Early word from brother blog Live Feed says yes; ABC is reporting a 6% bump in major markets and expects to see as much as a 10% jump in overall viewing once it gets the final tallies.

Since the telecast sank to record lows last year, with 32 million people watching, the preliminary numbers would seem to indicate that the full-court marketing press from the network and the Academy convinced some lapsed, on-the-fence or uninterested viewers to take a look.

Since the winners weren't much of a surprise, we expect a lot of the talk today to be about the kudocast itself. Come on back as we deconstruct.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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