Will Smith slapping Chris Rock sort of upstaged everything else that happened at this year’s Oscars. It might even be easy to forget that the whole thing was a hot mess. There was the awkwardness of the three (game) hosts. There was the attempt to get Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to give a speech (and Sean Penn’s apparently empty promise to “smelt” his Oscars if he doesn’t). But there was another controversy this year, one that might be rectified for the one in 2023.
Shortly before the ceremony, highers-up announced they were cutting eight categories from the live broadcast. The winners for Editing, Score, Production Design, Sound, and more still got their trophies during the ceremony; viewers at home simply didn’t get to see them (beyond quickie samples of their speeches). The move prompted subtle protest from those in attendance. Well, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences now has itself a new CEO, one Bill Kramer, and he strongly hinted that he was righting that wrong.
In an interview with the Academy’s digital magazine a.Frame (as per The Hollywood Reporter), Kramer didn’t outright state that he was bringing those jettisoned categories back. But he did nudge-nudge pretty aggressively. He said “all artistic and scientific disciplines honored on the show,” adding that “we need to produce an Oscars show that celebrates the collaborative work of the industry.”
The Oscars telecast has long come under fire from two sides: from ABC brass, who have breathed down producers’ necks to get ratings back up to where they once were; and from filmmakers/talent and the general public, who have criticized (or at least relentlessly dragged) attempts to dumb the show down. But if there’s a bright side to a famous celebrity about to win an Oscar striking an also popular presenter in the face on live television, it’s that it may compel viewers to tune in next year. And that means they might be able to do things like not snub a large contingent of the night’s nominees and maybe winners.