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Oscar Ratings May Be Lowest Ever, Down 26% from Last Year as Viewers Tune Out

The ratings for the Oscars are, unsurprisingly, pretty awful. Early estimates are that the show was down 26% from last year. And THOSE ratings were down 31% from the prior year.

The upside of the show last night– great musical performances, lots of new and fresh faces, and Tiffany Haddish.

But there were many issues with how the show came off. My biggest question was why, after Best Supporting Actor was given, we went into a black hole for 90 minutes. The next categories were one after another as boring as they could have been despite the efforts of the producers to use interesting presenters.

Also, the audience at home, in the theater, could have used some good parodies. I loved the old fashioned black and white introduction. But why did not come out dressed as the Sea Creature from “Shape of Water”? Why weren’t there three funny billboards on stage? Nothing from “Black Panther,” the biggest movie in the world right now? (Believe me, waiting a year to do that next February — no.)

You could feel it in the Dolby Theater: the bars on the ground floor and the one near the stage filled up with stars like crazy. Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone were in deep conversation almost from Supporting Actor to Supporting Actress. In time I spotted just about all the nominees and all the interesting people from the orchestra section.

This included Saoirse Ronan and her mom with Beanie Feldstein, Oscar Isaac chatting up Martin McDonagh, Netflix chief Ted Sarandos and wife Nicole Avant, Annabella Sciorra, “Birdman” director Alejandro Innaritu, Margot Robbie, artist JR from “Faces Places,” Allison Janney with her Oscar, Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, and so on. When Jordan Peele won Best Original Screenplay there was an audible gasp, then huge applause.

But that first 90 minutes of what turned out to be four hours helped to kill the show’s ratings. If the audience in the house drifted away, what could you expect from the world outside? Also, there were no surprises among the winners– it was more of a coronation. There was no big reveal. But also, there are big stars really.

In that sense, Jane Fonda represented Old Hollywood– and looked beautiful doing it. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were fine and fun at the end of the show. But look what’s happened: Jack Nicholson is out of it, he’s done with public appearances. Gene Hackman is long retired. Dustin Hoffman had a bad year. Clint Eastwood– not his thing. Pacino and DeNiro were AWOL, waiting for “The Irishman” next year. So who are the big draws?

And then– Disney/ABC sent their guy, Jimmy Kimmel, to a screening of their next movie “A Wrinkle in Time” to “surprise” that audience next door with goodies, mostly candy. That may have been too sugary for anyone at home.