Finke Wrap: Live-Blogging The Oscars

Erroll Morris’ interviews of the nominees kicks off the show. And it lays a huge egg. The package is too inside. And the TV viewing audience has no idea who most of these people are. When, oh when, is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences going to stop being so “insider” on their telecast. How, in the world does a quirky piece like this endear movies to the world audience? It doesn’t!

Standing are the 177 Oscar nominees scattered around Hollywood’s Kodak Theater. Here comes Ellen in maroon velvet pantsuit and white wingtips. Without a tie, she looks like she’s in a lounging outfit. I’m still waiting for her to crack a few jokes, any jokes. She’s pointing out how this is the most international Oscars ever. “I think I see a few Americans — the seat fillers. Nobody can fill a seat like an American.” She points out that only the British know they’re going to win.

“It’s my job to relax you and put you at ease…. I can’t even imagine what you people are going through… But don’t worry about that. What you should worry about is there are a billion people watching you.” (I don’t think that’s true anymore!)

Now comes the audience-pointing segment of the host’s monologue. Ellen picks out Abigail Breslin and Peter O’Toole (“He’s been nominated 8 times, but, Peter, third time is the charm.”) She points out that “Al Gore is here. America did vote for him and…” HUGE APPLAUSE … “it’s very complicated”. So now they’ve broken the ice of the first political joke of the night.

Now Ellen’s dancing with a tambourine while a large gospel choir group goes up and down the Kodak Theater aisles. (Hey, pundits, I thought she wasn’t going to dance?) And the reason for this is… well, there was no point to it. Truly, in whose mind is it that this is a funny, smart or cool way to open the Oscars? Fifteen minutes in, and we’re just glimpsing our first film clip. And by trying not to be controversial, Ellen wound up being pablum. It was a truly forgettable performance. And that’s far worse than being awful.

It’s going to be a looooooong night. Already, the commercials are better than the show.

What the heck is Nicole Kidman wearing around her neck? The top of her red gown looks like it’s trying to strangle her. (more…)

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