Get ready to meet the new Oscar scroll, a cousin of the cable news ticker tape!
Determined to eliminate the time-honored awards show tradition in which a flustered nominee reaches into his breast pocket or her decolletage for a wrinkled piece of paper and then proceeds to read a list of names until the orchestra strikes up the play-off music, Reginald Hudlin and David Hill, who are producing the 88th Academy Awards, are introducing a new way for the winners to acknowledge all their thank-yous.
Nominees are being asked to submit a list of those they would like to thank should they win in advance of the Feb. 28 broadcast, which will air live on ABC, and then if they are called to the stage, a scroll of the names of those they wish to thank will run across the bottom of the screen.
The producers unveiled the new way for Hollywood’s biggest winners to express their gratitude on Monday at the Nominees Luncheon, which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences held for more than 150 of this year’s nominees at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
In reviewing past shows, Hill explained, “Acceptance speeches have become a list of names and more often than not, time ran out before something could be spoken from the heart about the art, about the vision, about the experience, about the meaning of the moment.” He added, “We needed to rethink how this could be a better experience for everyone.”
To show what they hoped to avoid, the producers presented a clip from last year’s ceremony in which Dana Perry, a producer of the best documentary short Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, was played off just as she began to talk about the suicide of her own son. To demonstrate the new approach, the producers mocked up a clip of Kate Winslet winning her Oscar for The Reader in 2009, with an accompanying scroll — that looked like a cable news ticker tape — running across the bottom of the screen as she made her way to the stage.
While the producers admitted they haven’t yet worked out all the details — nominees were given a card with information about how they could submit their thank-yous in advance — Hill promised that the scroll would serve as “a permanent record of your gratitude” while freeing up the winners, who still will have just 45 seconds to accept their award, to focus on something more personal than just a list of producers, agents, managers and PR reps.
Of course, the new approach could create an added hurdle for the winners themselves: In the past, a winner could always claim she was overcome by the moment if she forgot to thank a spouse or co-star. Now, since the nominees will have time to decide exactly whom to thank in advance, they can be taken to task for any omissions.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/GETTY IMAGES