Showtime auds get an eyeful at awards show

When Showtime debuted its broadcast of the 2008 Adult Video News Awards on March 14, the cabler made history with something often pursued but rarely achieved: an awards show that wasn’t dull.

Could the Oscars learn something from the AVNs?

Of course, the Oscars are live and Showtime had more than a month to edit. And there’s other inequities: Movie stars try to disguise all evidence of plastic surgery; porn stars put theirs on display. The Oscars must contend with five best-song perfs while AVN celebrates award categories like Best Group Sex Scene.

However, the Showtime program also captured elements that mainstream award shows would love to embrace but too often don’t.

  • Discernible personalities: AVN’s red-carpet hosts were rock star-porn director Dave Navarro and Wicked Pictures contract starlet Kirsten Price. They may be less recognizable than Ryan Seacrest, but they seem like a lot more fun to hang around with.

  • The element of surprise: It was an honest-to-(er)-goodness shock when Jenna Jameson prefaced her presentation of the Crossover Star of the Year Award with the announcement that she had retired from porn.

  • Short speeches: AVN president Paul Fishbein says the show imposes no time limits on its winners. He doesn’t have to; most porn stars don’t thank their agents.

  • Willingness to edit: This year, the AVNs had about 110 categories (“almost as many the Grammys,” says Fishbein, who plans a shorter roster next year). Of those, only 20 were presented at the ceremony; other winners were read as a list.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The Oscarcast is often criticized for its dull choreography, and porn vets take a similarly dim view of the bump-and-grind dance party that traditionally ends the AVNs, especially when the segment needed to be honed for airing on Showtime.

“When it finally ended, they said, ‘One more time!’ because it was TV,” says Wicked VP Joy King. “I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ “

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