The next acceptance speech that any star delivers at an awards show should begin something like this: “I would like to thank those patient souls who are watching because I realize shows like this are boring and not many of you are left.”
What prompted this was a glimpse at the Golden Globes ratings last week. The kitschy soap, “Desperate Housewives,” walloped the Globes show by more than two-to-one in the key 18-to-49 demo — a vivid reminder that the Globes, like the People’s Choice Awards and even the Oscars, are not aging gracefully.
Sure, there are still a lot of kudo carnivals adorning the TV landscape, but they’re not exactly basking in popularity with the hip young audience. Indeed, the Oscars, which once claimed an 82.4 share, is now content to hover around in the 30s.
We all know the reasons why these onanistic celebrations are in trouble. They’re too long and self-indulgent. They dote on movies very few people get to see. They are big on rhetoric and short on entertainment. And, especially in the case of the Oscars, honors are dispensed in too many arcane categories.
Now I attended the Globes dinner at the Beverly Hilton last week and, from the inside, the show was a blast. The attending celebrities soaked up an abundance of champagne and diligently mingled and gossiped. And where else can you find yourself, in the course of a single evening, chatting with Mick Jagger, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Prince and Martin Scorsese?
The trouble is that the fun in the ballroom doesn’t seem to resonate with those watching the tube. In the course of three hours, they get a lot of commercials minus the off-camera naughtiness.
Given this disconnect, I would remind those receiving their honors that they are first and foremost entertainers and, like Jamie Foxx at the Globes, should respond with something more animated than a list of agents and publicists. In short, more candor and less condescension.
Why won’t someone say:
- I could have won this award years ago except my fucking agents never got me decent scripts.
- My co-star tried to steal my best scenes, but I got the last laugh, didn’t I?
- Since I had to work for scale to get this show made, I assume that the studio will now pay me my full salary.
- My father disowned me for becoming an actor, so I hope he realizes I’m not buying him the new house he expects.
Some may find these remarks too feisty, but at least they provide insight into the actor’s true feelings. Remember, that’s why folks are watching the show: They want access. They want dish.
And if they get what they want, maybe the ratings will stop their slide.
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Incidentally, though Jamie Foxx’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes was very moving, it was Emma Thompson who won my heart with her 1995 Oscar speech. Having been awarded the “best adapted screenplay” Oscar for Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” Thompson noted that, before returning to Los Angeles for the ceremony, “I went to Jane Austen’s grave in Winchester Cathedral to pay my respects and tell her about the grosses. I don’t know how she would react to an evening like this, but I do hope she knows how big she is in Uruguay.”
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OK, we understand why the awards shows crave that younger demo, but should the news anchors submit to a similar craving? Les Moonves says he may junk the single-anchor “voice of God” approach to network news in order to speak to a younger audience.
In Los Angeles, a respected radio news anchor walked away from her job at KNX last week because the Viacom-owned all-news station is softening coverage and pairing her with a traffic reporter.
At a time when voters urgently need “hard news,” and when the Bush administration is financing its own spinmeisters under the guise of newsmen, how far will this “softening” process take us?
News shows are trying to become more entertaining at a moment when the news itself is less entertaining. Are the network gurus going to meet this anomaly head-on, or flee from it? The portents are not encouraging.