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Let Oscar Get Real

Think having the Academy Awards without writers is impossible?

January 02, 2008

IN light of the WGA strike, and the possibility -- however slight -- that without writers the award shows might not go on, industry insiders are scrambling to work around the dilemma. But the answer is as obvious as a television network broadcast: Turn to reality programming. The award shows should take a page from those, uh, unscripted scripts and turn the Oscars into a reality show-based extravaganza. This would completely eliminate the need for a writing staff -- at least one that gets credit or benefits. So, Gil Cates take note, here are some award suggestions:

Achievement in directing: "Top Chefs." Can't you see the Coen brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson in a cook-off? There will be blood sausage.

Achievement in art direction: "Extreme Makeover: Vancouver as Any City, USA, Edition"

Achievement in makeup: "While You Were Out Getting Botox"

Achievement in visual effects: "Fear Factory" or maybe "The Fog Whisperer

Best cinematography: "Last Camera Standing." Make the nominees film audience reaction shots during the show. None of the usual smiles and laughs; show us pathos, anger, boredom, menace -- and not all from Jack in the front row.

Performance by an actor or actress in a leading role: "Big Screen American Idols." Really, who knew Johnny Depp could sing so well? And even if she can't really belt it out like Piaf, Marion Cotillard has the moves down pat.

Sound editing: "The Weakest Sync" "Best documentary feature: "The Real World, Outside Hollywood"

Performance by an actor or actress in a supporting role: "Dancing With Other Stars." Picture Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan, swinging with John Travolta as Edna Turnblad. Who leads? Who cares!

Best foreign-language film: "Beauty and the Greek" (or Frenchman, or Italian, or Iranian, or German, just as long as Emmanuelle Seigner and Wei Tang are in there somewhere).

Achievement in film editing: "Survivor: Tiny Windowless Room"

Best motion picture, which is given to the producers: "Project Runaway Costs." Then again, since this Oscar is limited to three producers and many films have more than that, this offers an opportunity for a reality show within a reality show (very meta, the kids'll love it), and that show would be: "The Amazing Race to the Stage." The first three producers to touch the podium win the Oscar. Joan and Melissa Rivers will then escort the biggest losers offstage while heckling them for their poor sartorial choices.

Speaking of clothing, how about for achievement in costume design: "So You Want to Be a Milliner."

And, finally, original screenplay, the category for our beleaguered writers: "Deal or No Deal." Hey, it's either that or "Punk'd."

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