The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items will vary, as will the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest. The important thing is that it’s Friday and we are here to have some fun.
ITEM NUMBER ONE — Oh, I can get the Oscars under three hours
The Oscars are this Sunday. The lead-up to this year’s festivities have been… oh, let’s say “busy.” They were looking for a host, then they found one, then they… didn’t have one anymore, then they gave up and decided to go hostless. They were going to introduce a new category for “popular films,” then people yelled and they scrapped it. They were going to present some awards during commercials to save time, but people yelled again and that got scrapped, too. You ever see someone trip while walking down a sidewalk, catch themselves, pretend to do a little jog like that’s what they intended to do in the first place, then fall down an open manhole and snap both femurs? Me neither. But that’s kind of like what this has been like.
There are real problems the producers are trying to address, though. They want more people watching the ceremony, and they know how they want to address it, but they just don’t know how. Ideally, they’d like some combination of the following:
- A fancy host with a big built-in audience who can do a good monologue and not get swept up in a months-long scandal involving bad old tweets
- More nominations for blockbuster-type movies people see in the theaters
- A ceremony that comes in under three hours
The first two are tough. I don’t have a great solution for either. The second one is especially tough right now because movies seem to have been separated into Blockbusters and Awards Movies and — the nomination for Black Panther notwithstanding — there’s not much overlap there. Titanic made a jillion dollars and won a jillion Oscars. Do you remember what won Best Picture four years ago? It was Birdman. I don’t think you remembered that. This is their dilemma.
The third thing, well, that I can help with. I am on the record in many places — including this very column, just two weeks ago — as wanting things to be shorter. I’m happy to provide assistance, both for them and for my own selfish ends. I’m not made of time, people. Let’s get this sucker down to three hours flat, two if possible. Let’s think outside the box. Way, way outside the box.
Below, please find my simple three-step plan to shorten the Oscars.
STEP ONE: No more skits.
I don’t think these ever really work anyway. Even when they do, they’re just 5-10 minutes spent not giving out awards during an event for giving out awards. In fact, let’s see how this whole hostless ceremony goes and maybe stick with that. We can still hire a comedian to give a monologue at the top of the show if we’re very serious about keeping that part. We just don’t call them “the host.” Do some jokes and scoot. It’s best for everyone.
STEP TWO: Institute a $100,000 per second fine for any speech that goes over 30 seconds.
Oh, do you wanna tell a long story about your high school drama teacher or do a political rant that no one asked you to give. That’s fine. It’s your award and your moment. Do what you want. But a 90-second speech will cost you $6 million. Payable immediately. And the money doesn’t even go to charity either, so you can’t justify it that way. We just take the cash and light it on fire. It’ll all be a huge shameful waste that pleases no one and infuriates everyone and you need to decide if it’s really worth it to get in that jab at the clowns in Congress. It’s probably not.
STEP THREE: Once the presenters read your name off the card and announce you as the winner, you have 10 seconds to get to the stage or the award goes to the runner-up. If they don’t make it in 10 seconds, it goes to whoever was in third place. And so on.
This solves two problems: One, it cuts down on the time spent hugging people and leisurely moseying to the stage; two, it will shorten acceptance speeches because everyone will be out of breath. Also, it will be hilarious. Who wouldn’t watch that? Picture like Rami Malek in a dead sprint with Mahershala Ali thinking about tripping him to steal the award. (Tripping is allowed.) Female nominees trying to run in heels or coming to the event in rollerblades. Mass chaos the next day when someone spills marbles on the floor and no nominee makes it to the stage in time so the committee decides that Oscar rolls over to the next year and that winner just gets two trophies. I see no downside here.
Bingo bango. Problem solved.
ITEM NUMBER TWO — Marvel, Netflix, etc.
The Netflix/Marvel relationship ended for good this week with the cancellations of Jessica Jones and The Punisher. This has been coming for a while, especially after the other shows in the catalog — Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, etc. — got the ax a few weeks ago, and if you want to sit here and discuss the various whys and hows of it all, you are more than welcome to do so. I will not be doing that. The short version is something like “diminishing returns plus escalating costs plus a changing media landscape” and that’s more than enough for me. I would rather discuss the time Sigourney Weaver did kung fu.
The villains were usually the best parts of these shows, when they worked. Mahershala Ali was so good in the first half of Luke Cage’s first season that it kind of ruined the rest of the show. Vincent D’Onofrio was a blast as Wilson Fisk, with all of his needlessly long anecdotes delivered in response to very simple questions, often starting with “When I was a boy…” (He was easily the most “Sir, this is an Arby’s” character on television.) And in The Defenders, the Avengers-style team-up series, Sigourney Weaver popped up as an evil millionaire so-and-so and she did this.
The Marvel Netflix shows were never great. Their seasons bent under the weight of bloated episode counts and a rotating crew of showrunners. Even at their best (season one of Jessica Jones, the Mahershala Ali parts of Luke Cage, bits and pieces of Daredevil), they never really rose above pretty good. And the less said about Iron Fist, the better. But you do have to give them this, if nothing else: No other big fancy prestige show — not The Sopranos, not Mad Men or Breaking Bad, not Game of Thrones — featured Sigourney Weaver doing kung fu. Has to count for something.