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Stop, Oscar -- you're heading in the wrong direction!

October 6, 2010 | 10:30 am

As the L.A. Times reports, the motion picture academy continues to investigate how to move the ceremony up into January so the Oscars can "steal back some of the thunder from other award shows and boost TV ratings."

Oscars move academy awards newsAcademy President Tom Sherak, who heads a committee weighing the date switch, says, "I think we would like to do it. Progress is being made, but we don't have it all right just yet .... In today's world, everybody wants it now. People don't want to wait. You need to stay relevant."

Chiefly, the Oscars are worried about the thunder issue. They appear less relevant nowadays because they seem to be just rubber-stamping the choices made earlier by the critics' awards, guild prizes and Golden Globes. Well, the reason that's occurring is because the Oscars are bunched so close together with other kudos and are -- thanks to herd mentality -- hugely affected by them.

This wasn't such a big deal when the Oscars took place in late March/early April. Academy members got bored with what the critics and Golden Globes picked in December and January, and academy members chose "Midnight Cowboy" (1969), "The Sting" (1973), "Chariots of Fire" (1981) and "Braveheart" (1995) for best picture instead. In the battle over best actor of 2000, Javier Bardem ("Before Night Falls") and Tom Hanks ("Cast Away") led the early rounds, but then Russell Crowe ("Gladiator") slayed all rivals in the Oscar coliseum. One year later, Sissy Spacek ("In the Bedroom") swept the early trophies for best actress, but then Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball") suddenly dashed ahead to win in the home stretch.

That was because there used to be lots of lead time ahead of the Oscars -- time for voters to change their minds. But then academy chiefs wanted to push up the ceremony date into February sweeps so they could boost TV ratings and hike ad dollars. The Oscarcast moved there in 2004 (for the 2003 film year) and, alas, Nielsens didn't jump.

The Oscars suddenly began agreeing with precursor awards more than ever. It looked like all they were doing was rubber-stamping the Globes, guilds' and critics' kudos. Now, to resolve that conflict, the Oscars want to do what everybody does to everybody else in competitive Hollywood -- upstage them. That's not going to happen. The critics' groups and Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. are small and feisty. They'll always find a way to stay out front and, when they vote, their results will become widely known and copied, given how human nature works. That means copied by Oscar voters.

Oscar is running in the wrong direction. He needs to head back to late March/early April.

There's one more big advantage to the Oscarcast occurring then: nominated films stay in theaters longer. Since those tend to be the quality-art house kind, they need the extra exposure and revenue.

Photo: AMPAS

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