Archive - Mar 15, 2011

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Fix It By Making It Better, Already!

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Memo to John Nolte: YOU ARE A GENIUS.

I frequently mock Big Hollywood and it's rag-tag fleet of writers for their bizarre right-wing takes on the politics of entertainment. But, in one of the few ways they're like YAD, every once and a while they take on pure entertainment, free of politics, and it's hilarious. Unintentionally hilarious, but hilarious nonetheless.

Take, for example, the Last Writer Standing, John Nolte, who took precious time away from monitoring every second of The Daily Show for liberal comedy to suggest "Ten Easy Steps To A Watchable Oscar Telecast". There are technically ten of them, although whether there are ten DIFFERENT ones is debatable. And they certainly wouldn't prevent you from watching the Oscars, so that part is also technically true. But the best part is how many of the steps boil down, semantically, to "make the Oscars better!".

Because it's mandatory, any hacky criticism of the Oscars must address the choice of host(s), and Nolte does not disappoint. Well, unless you were looking for insightful criticism of Anne Hathaway and James Franco that you hadn't read on Twitter during the awards themselves. Hell, Nolte doesn't even criticize what they did - he's content to say it was bad that they did it at all.

His improvements? Get someone like Billy Crystal, or, barring that, someone like Johnny Carson, or, barring that, someone like Ed Sullivan. He gives no suggestions about who the first two might be.

"You make the Oscar telecast the host’s show — The Billy Crystal Show or the The Johnny Carson Show or The Whoever Show. Whoever the host is, the Oscars should become their program."

You hear that, Academy? Get on the phone to Whoever's agent, and make sure they make it their show. The Oscars should be hosted by someone we want to see, someone we enjoy seeing, someone we look forward to every time they come on stage. This is such an awesome idea it's a wonder the Academy hasn't thought of it yet.

Step two is structure. Nolte's suggestion? Have better structure.

Step three is pacing. Nolte's suggestion? Have better structure. This is not a cut and paste error, except in the clipboard of John Nolte's mind. He actually suggests that making the show shorter is not a solution for a show that's too long:

"Shorter isn’t better. Better produced segments is better. Making each segment an individual gem is better."

So step three in making the Oscars better is to make the individual pieces of the Oscars better. GET ON THAT.

Step four is to increase the suspense, and Nolte has a sure-fire plan for... wait. "I’m not sure what the Academy can do about this but the biggest bummer, the biggest drag on the show every year, is a numbing lack of suspense." So Nolte's fourth step to improve the Oscars is to have them, not him, figure out a way for there to be more suspense because people can guess who's gonna win.

Step five is "Watch the Super Bowl". You see, a lot of people watch football, and watch the movies, but more people watch the Super Bowl than the Oscars. Nolte suggests the Academy should, I shit you not, "Crack that code". I'm pretty sure the key to the conundrum is that movies aren't individual competitive events leading up to one giant competition. You don't go to see a movie in the hopes that the movie will win and eventually advance to the Oscars. Maybe John Nolte does. It would explain many of his reviews.

Step six is to give the Oscars traditions like the Super Bowl. Things that happen every year that people can look forward to, like halftime shows, "their opening reading of the Declaration of Independence", and "awarding of the Lombardi Trophy". I'm just going to let that sink in for a second.

To make the Oscars more watchable they should do certain things every year, like HAND OUT A TROPHY. And maybe have some musical numbers. Also, who even knows they do that Declaration of Independence thing? Apparently they started doing it after 9/11, so I guess what John Nolte wants is more reflexive jingoism in the Oscars. Presumably, knowing Big Hollywood as I do, in place of the Foreign Film categories.

Step seven is to fetishize nostalgia more, because the movies of today suck.

Step eight is a better producer. Nolte thinks the Oscars should find and hire one to make the show better. I know at this point you think I'm oversimplifying, so let me give you step eight in full. ACTUAL STEP EIGHT TIME!

"The Oscars need a producer familiar with taking nothing and creating a story or at least a crafting some sort of narrative with some kind of momentum. Reality show producer Mark Burnett would be an excellent choice. His entire career has been built around crafting narratives and a sense of momentum from practically nothing. I appreciate that you want 'A SHOW!' so let Burnett be the Executive Producer who crafts the structure and let him hire the Bob Fosse needed to bring the pizazz."

See? I actually made it better by pretending he didn't actually say "get that dude who made Survivor, then bring some Broadway homo in to make it gay enough for the rest of you."

Step nine is to actually bring back Billy Crystal.

Step ten is to "stop thinking outside the box" and do what they used to do back when John Nolte enjoyed the Oscars. I guess back then they had traditions' structure; pacing; a producer who understood tradition, structure, and pacing; handed out trophies' had Billy Crystal as host; and were just like the Super Bowl. If they could only do that again, John Nolte could finally watch the Oscars and only complain about all the liberals winning awards.