By now, hopefully, you've heard about all the exciting changes at Variety, not the least of which is our revamped website, which has begun operation and officially launches Friday.
Under the new format, content that used to appear on the Variety blogs is all landing in one central location on the home page, and content that is specifically awards-related — including the stuff you'd find here at The Vote — will appear under the Awards tag. If you're looking for my work specifically, click here.
So thanks for coming here, and please continue to visit over there!
The February 2011 show was the Academy's biggest attempt to go young and hip, with James Franco and Anne Hathaway, and it tanked.
A year later, Brett Ratner was brought in to shake things up on the producing side, then found that choosing a producer who would offer uncensored personal thoughts in public wasn't going to fly. After Ratner ankled the show, with host Eddie Murphy following him out the door, Billy Crystal returned an Old School approach. But that wasn't by design – it was triage.
Then came Seth MacFarlane – whose efforts were loved by a staunch minority, not surprising since he and his producers set out to do an Oscars targeted for a staunch minority.
MacFarlane had made it clear long before the Oscars that this would be a one-time thing, so the fact that he confirmed on Twitter he won't be back after the fact comes as no surprise – or even as news, I'd say.
However, since Sunday's Oscarcast practically begged us to consider whether this year's Golden Globes hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, might move over to next year's Oscars, it's noteworthy to learn that Fey has ruled out doing so, as Mike Ryan of the Huffington Post reports.
"I just feel like that gig is so hard," Fey said. "Especially for, like, a woman -- the amount of months that would be spent trying on dresses alone ... no way. ... I wish I could tell you there was (a chance)."
So where do the Academy Awards go from here?
Yes, the ratings for the Oscars ticked up this year, both in total viewers and in key demos, so it will be tempting for the Academy to consider that it was on the right track with MacFarlane – even to the point where you could argue that it doesn't matter how liked he was. Talking to insiders as well as outsiders, no matter what they thought of MacFarlane, I found they kept watching the show, from start to finish.
At the same time, it can't be lost on AMPAS that this was a rare recent Oscars with wide box office appeal: six films with more than $100 million in domestic box office and a seventh ("Zero Dark Thirty") poised to go over the top. People were invested in the contenders, and that, more than the host (let alone the heavy emphasis on musical tributes) is logically why viewers turned on and never dropped out.
So look for the Academy, which will be under a new president next year after Hawk Koch's term ends, to combine the best of both worlds: to do everything it can to ensure popular films reach the Oscars (no going back to five nominees), and to continue to pursue a host that will court younger audiences – with Fey and Poehler as the role models, even if they aren't the actual folks on stage.
Who might next year's host be?
Melissa McCarthy, who like Fey and Poehler first showed her awards spark at the Emmys (before she uncharacteristically struggled through her Oscar presenting assignment Sunday with Paul Rudd) is a tantalizing possiblity. She has an even broader film profile today than Fey, thanks to "Bridesmaids," "This Is 40" and "Identity Thief," and would also provide a welcome (yet far from politically correct) antidote to the boys' club atmosphere developed at the Academy Awards, which have had two solo female hosts this century and none since Ellen DeGeneres in February 2007.
But it's hard to imagine McCarthy fronting the Oscars on ABC, which holds the rights to the Oscars through 2020, before her association with rival CBS' "Mike & Molly" ends, so it's probably best to table that thought for now.
Neil Patrick Harris, who has already aced the Tonys and Emmys and who has youth-skewing credibility from TV to film ("Harold and Kumar") and the web ("Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog"), will be wrapping up the Eye's "How I Met Your Mother" in spring 2014, so he's also someone to keep an eye on for future years. Jane Lynch offers a similar profile, as soon as she's free of Fox's "Glee."
We can keep scouring Solar System Hollywood for potential alternatives – I mean, if someone like Tom Hanks ever said he wanted to do it, that would be signed, sealed and delivered before brunch. And I wouldn't rule out the non-ABC people entirely: MacFarlane's signature show "Family Guy," after all, is on Fox, though he's not on camera in it.
However, it's hard to escape the notion that the Occam's razor choice to host next year's Oscars is Jimmy Kimmel.
He's an ABC personality. He has 18-49 cachet. He's got a fairly well-received Emmys hosting gig from 2012 in his back pocket (not as dynamic as his peer Jimmy Fallon, but Fallon's on NBC). He's established a well-defined connection to the kudofest thanks to the tailor-made Oscar-night special editions of his talkshow. And now that he has moved "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to its new, pre-midnight timeslot, his next challenge awaits.
We'll see. There's plenty of time before the Academy arrives at a decision – last year's MacFarlane announcement didn't come until the first morning in October. AMPAS will consider its options, while Kimmel, if interested, would have to decide whether the massive time commitment needed for hosting the Oscars (whether the 2014 Winter Olympics push them to January or March) would be worth the potential mixed reviews he would receive.
Here are two suggestions, though, that might help Kimmel to a successful Oscar gig if he wants it. If you don't seek out those dreary reviews as a self-fulfilling prophecy as MacFarlane and exec producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron did, you might avoid them. And in the meantime, don't wait to start touting box office hits as Oscar contenders on your talkshow.
Follow Awards Editor Jon Weisman on Twitter.
Kaley Cuoco, star of "The Big Bang Theory," is developing a pretty lucrative side biz hosting awards shows. She's hosted the past two People's Choice Awards, a Teen Choice Awards, and it has just been announced that she will host the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame induction ceremony on March 11.
CBS has the Emmys this year, and though Neil Patrick Harris is an obvious option, with this trial run in front of the TV Academy, you have to think that Cuoco is on the shortlist for consideration this September.
Here's the list of this year's Hall of Fame inductees and who will be introducing them:
-- Ron Howard (Will Arnett)
-- Al Michaels (John Madden)
-- Leslie Moonves (Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen)
-- Bob Schieffer (Jeff Fager and David Rhodes of CBS News)
-- Dick Wolf (Ice-T)
-- Philo T. Farnsworth (posthumously) (Aaron Sorkin)
Now that "Argo" has won best picture, we know who's No. 1 this awards season. But what about the rest?
With the confetti having fallen Sunday on this year's Oscars, here’s a final 2012-13 awards-season film top 40.
To be clear, this isn’t an artistic ranking of the films, but rather of how rewarding their journey through kudo country was (with preseason expectations ever-so-gently factored in). Only scripted features were considered.
And so, to the rankings (and apologies for the auto-playing videos below) ...
The Oscars are done with, and much has been written about the ceremony broadcast already, so forgive me my three cents. But since I spent enough time expressing my fears about Sunday in the days and weeks leading up to the show, I figured I might as well complete the cycle.
It's one thing when you're an artist to create something and say, "I'm going to do it my way."
It's another to take something that doesn't belong to you and say, "I'm going to do it my way," and to be aware that your way isn't the right way to do it — so aware that you take 15 minutes at the start of the show to point that out, over and over again. That's not self-deprecation. That's an insult.
And that's what Oscarcast exec producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and host Seth MacFarlane delivered.
I get that some people liked Sunday's ceremony. My wife liked Sunday's ceremony (and she doesn't even like "Family Guy" or "Smash"). But the issue isn't about whether you won't please anyone. Anyone can please someone.
It's about making your best effort. And if you're so focused on pleasing yourself that you don't care to address the problems you are causing, you're not making your best effort.
This was writ large and small during the ceremony.
Large: A so-called tribute to the history of movie musicals that covers all of three movies, one of which was produced by the Oscarcast exec producers, another of which featured a singer from a television show produced by the Oscarcast exec producers. Feeble. Either do it right, or don't do it at all.
Small: Five members of the cast of the "Avengers" present an Oscar, and they're a wonderful combination of disinterested and incoherent. Who even knows what they were saying? It's a dead moment and one that shouldn't happen. Understand when something isn't going to work and deal with it.
Gigantic: An opening show segment that was twice as long as the time devoted to celebrating all nine best picture nominees combined.
And that's with me putting aside, because others have addressed it so well, how the show did offend, practically as promised, large swaths of people.
As Zadan, Meron and MacFarlane couldn't stop telling us, the Oscars are an easy target for criticism, and that's true. And the thing is, the show wasn't even as bad as I thought it would be. MacFarlane did have some funny lines. Shirley Bassey kicked ass, as far as I'm concerned. And the brief moment of the socks in the dryer during the "Flight" parody was a half-second of genius.
But what I think offends me so much about Sunday's broadcast, more than any Oscars I've ever watched, is how blatantly Zadan, Meron and MacFarlane used the anti-Sally Field approach of "You're really not going to like me" to do absolutely whatever the hell they wanted, regardless of its merits. What cowardice, to blame your audience if any of it doesn't like what you're doing. It absolutely reeked of self-indulgence, completely oblivious to the idea that most of us do not tune in to see you. If this were on their show, that'd be one thing. But it was on our show.
The Academy Awards (as they used to be called before Zadan and Meron banned the name this year) are not sacred. I'm not anti-irreverance. I am anti-arrogance.
Maybe that's arrogant of me to say, but at least you have online options for Oscar coverage besides me. There's only one Oscars.
My recap of tonight's Oscar results, which can be found here, includes some good trivia ...
... With Chris Terrio's award for adapted screenplay and William Goldenberg's for editing, "Argo" ended up with three Oscars, the fewest for a best-picture champ since 2005's "Crash." (The last grand-prize winner to win fewer Oscars was 1952's "The Greatest Show on Earth" with two.)
"Argo" also became the first best picture since 2004's "Million Dollar Baby" and second since 1977's "Annie Hall" not to at least tie for the most Oscars in its winning year. "Life of Pi" came away with the fullest hands, winning four Oscars including best director for Ang Lee.
Nevertheless, "Argo" proved as dominant in the picture race as any film in recent years, becoming the first since 2008's "Slumdog Millionaire" and second since 1999's "American Beauty" to win top feature prizes from the Directors Guild, Producers Guild, Screen Actors Guild (cast), Writers Guild (adapted screenplay), BAFTA, the Golden Globes and the Oscars.
The night was historical for more than just "Argo," or for First Lady Michelle Obama live from the White House joining Jack Nicholson in presenting the best picture award.
Daniel Day-Lewis became the first actor to win his third Oscar for a lead performance, taking what was arguably the night's most predictable honor for "Lincoln" (whose Rick Carter and Jim Erickson also won for production design).
"I really don't know how any of this happened -- I do know I've received so much more than my fair share of good fortune in my life," said Day-Lewis, who then turned comedian, addressing award presenter Meryl Streep, who won lead actress a year ago for "The Iron Lady." "It's a strange thing because three years ago, before we decided to do a straight swap, I had actually been committed to play Margaret Thatcher."
At age 22 and 193 days, Jennifer Lawrence became the second-youngest lead actress winner ever, sliding in a month more junior than Janet Gaynor and a year older than Marlee Matlin. Among others, Lawrence topped youngest-ever lead-actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis (the 9-year-old star of "Beasts of the Southern Wild") and oldest-ever Emmanuelle Riva, who celebrated her 86th birthday on Oscar Sunday. ...
... Sound editing produced a rare tie ("No B.S.," according to presenter Mark Wahlberg): Paul N.J. Ottosson for "Zero Dark Thirty" -- that film's only kudo -- and Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson for "Skyfall." The tie was the first at the Oscars since a 1994 deadlock in the live-action short race between "Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life" and "Trevor."
"Skyfall" gave the James Bond franchise, whose 50th anniversary was celebrated during the kudocast, its third all-time Oscar and first since 1965's "Thunderball" won for visual effects. Soon after, "Skyfall" won its second Oscar for the title song by Adele and Paul Epworth. ...
Read the entire story here. And while I have your attention, here is my choice for the night's biggest surprise: Quentin Tarantino for original screenplay. I'm not sure I'd have put in him in my top three in terms of chances for winning -- definitely had Mark Boal and Tony Kushner ahead, and Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola of "Moonrise Kingdom" and Michael Haneke of "Amour" would have been equally valid darkhorses in my mind.
Folks, it's been quite the ride. A final thought before everyone hands tonight's top award to "Argo" -- the Academy gave "Life of Pi" 11 nominations without any for acting. That's some broad support. Not that I had the guts to turn away from the "Argo" freight train in my personal picks ...
Enjoy your evening, and let's hope my pessimism about the big show is unfounded.