Holding Oscars earlier would be tricky

Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:55pm EDT
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By Gregg Kilday

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Hollywood's awards season is kind of like the weather: everyone complains about it, but nobody does much about it.

Even before the final envelopes are opened at the Oscars each year, campaigners are lamenting that the process has grown too expensive; too many events crowd the limelight; and mostly that the season, which begins in early December and this year runs through the Academy Awards in late February, is just too damn long.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a special pet peeve: too many other awards shows have muscled into its territory, forcing eventual Oscar winners to repeat their acceptance speeches as they pick up precursor kudos, and, arguably, damaging the Oscar broadcast's ratings on ABC by making the show feel less special and more akin to a rerun.

As a result, within Academy circles there have been frequent conversations about holding the awards earlier. In 2004, the awards -- traditionally held in late March or early April -- moved into February for the first time. Last year, the show shifted to March 7 to avoid going head-to-head with the Vancouver Olympics' closing ceremonies, but the 83rd Academy Awards are sliding to February 27.

But should the Oscars be held even earlier? That topic came up at Tuesday's meeting of the Academy's board of governors. And when word of the discussion leaked out, folks were in a tizzy about the prospects that the next Oscars might abruptly shift to January.

Not so, the Academy quickly asserted Wednesday. The 83rd Academy Awards, which Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer have just been selected to produce, aren't moving from the announced February 27 date. But while it has set itself no deadline for a decision, the Academy admitted it's continuing to discuss a change, possibly in 2012.

"There are a number of questions still to be answered and challenges to be addressed with regard to moving the show to an earlier date," it said. "The Academy governors and staff have been and will continue to look into those questions and challenges ... This idea is simply under consideration and being explored as a possibility."

If the Oscars were to move into mid-February, it wouldn't seriously upend the current awards season calendar. (And the Academy could probably squeeze a week or two out of its current voting timetable without too much trouble.) But shifting into January would have serious repercussions for the rhythm of awards season, beginning with release schedules.   Continued...