It’s January 22nd, with a little more than a month to go before the Academy Awards. The nominations for the Oscars were announced on January 10th–12 days ago– to much fanfare after weeks of campaigning and publicity. The build up and what comes after is supposed to fuel the interest in the ABC telecast on February 24th–and also help the movies and actors who were nominated.
But since January 10th, it’s been all radio silence on the subject of the Oscars. What happened? I’ll tell you: new Academy rules for this year prevent studios and producers from any more campaigning. There are no more cocktail parties, lunches, or dinners. Movies can be screened, but no food or drink can be served. All the fun involved with the Oscars– meeting the casts, chowing down, and writing about it the next day–has been elimninated.
The idea was to make it all a level playing field. There are always accusations that some studios (usually The Weinstein Company) overdo it with the socializing. And evening it out for everyone is a smart idea. But erasing all of it, for six weeks or so, is a mistake. A big one.
If this were the case in actual political campaigning, the correlation would be that prior to the conventions, you could entertain potential voters. But between the choosing of the nominees and the election–from Labor Day til November 7th or so–all talk of the candidates would cease.
The result is that no one is talking about the Academy Awards at all. And wasn’t the point of moving up the nominations announcement by a week to kick off a major marketing push? But when the Oscars finally arrive this year, there will have been a paucity of publicity surrounding the movies and the show.
And now there’s a struggle around by Hollywood publicists who are trying to cook up feature stories about the various nominees. You see, the easiest thing to do was toss these little events and put columnists and interviewers in the room. The stories that came out of that stoked the press and fired up interest in the show consequently. The studios didn’t mind spending the money, and in fact all of them were happy to use commercial sponsors who liked the plugs they got. Everyone won.
But this way, I’m nervous everyone loses, especially ABC. Five weeks is a long time. Other movies will be released. And unless all the nominees make the talk show circuit, it could be a little weird on February 24th–almost an after-thought–when the Oscars finally arrive on ABC. I sure hope not. But it would be wise of the Academy to lift the ban on gatherings right now, and put the word Oscar back on Google News and everywhere else as soon as possible.
And this is important because so far this new adminstration of the Academy has made one good decision after another–from the host and producers of the Oscars to just about everything else. Maybe they can take this rule, which is a holdover from last year, and amend it quickly.