NEW YORK — If you're anything like me, and I certainly hope for your sake that you're not, your reaction to the recent Oscar ceremonies ranged somewhere between slack-jawed boredom and white-knuckled anger, with an occasional pause along the way for the consumption of chips and salsa. (I know I'm a bit behind, but I was so stunned by how bad this year's Oscar's were, it's taken me a few days to recover.)
Perhaps the thing that whitened my knuckles and slacked my jaw the most, though, was that we had been promised - promised - by the producers of the Oscar show that there were going to be real changes in the telecast in order to bring some new excitement to the proceedings.
These changes - having the nominees on stage as a group, giving awards at various other places in the theater - have already been roundly criticized for many reasons by many people. The only one I care about, though, is that they do nary a whit to up the excitement quotient of the proceedings.
My pulse, for example, did not quicken when Scarlett Johansson appeared in a box above the stage with some of the earlier technical Oscar winners, rather than onstage. Nor did my palms sweat when Jeremy Irons appeared in the orchestra section. Not more than they normally do on a day to day basis, anyway.
And the less said about the importation of Shrek into a classic Charlie Chaplin sequence the better.
Being the civic-minded person that I am, always out to improve the social welfare of millions of Americans without engaging in anything so sweaty as actual public service, I herewith humbly offer some suggestions for next year's Oscar telecast. If even a few of them are adopted, I guarantee some real excitement.
1. One nominee in each category wins Oscar; one other nominee forced to co-star with Carrot Top in next movie. Both names announced at same time.
2. Electric shocks for presenters who stumble over pre-written lines on teleprompter. That'll get 'em rehearsing.
3. One gift bag backstage includes fast-acting sleeping potion.
4. Regular cutaways to beloved Muppet critics Waldorf and Statler in their box, with their regular cutting criticisms of the madness below.
5. Bob Costas backstage uses light pen to show exactly who's been '"botoxed"' and where.
6. At time of show, one musical number is presented speeded up, in "Chipmunk" style. Beyonce may not enjoy this - but we will.
7. Awards to be accepted not by actors, but by members of actors' entourage, who are encouraged to "tell it like it really is."
8. As a tip of the hat to Million Dollar Baby, elimination round boxing by celebrities during Oscar preshow for best seats inside the theater.
9. Actor/presenters introduced not by upcoming project, but by networth and back taxes owed (as determined by those lovely folks at PriceWaterhouseCoopers). In special cases, also by arrest record (convictions only, of course; innocent until proven guilty and all that).
10. Honorary Oscar awarded to whoever will do "craziest thing onstage," as determined by Joe Rogan and the executive producers of NBC's Fear Factor. (You can just imagine Mr. Scorsese's agents: "We know you've been robbed over and over, Marty, but this time it's a sure thing. All you gotta do is eat some pig intestine and you're in.")
I firmly believe that the adoption of some or all of these changes are vital for the success of the Oscars in the future, and that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences needs to get on the bandwagon . Unless, of course, they plan to offer me an Oscar. In that case, they can do the show exactly the way they like it.