Oprah Winfrey, Brett Ratner, Oscar

Larry Busacca/Getty Images; Jordan Strauss/WireImage


Oprah Winfrey, best known for TV's Oprah, will receive an honorary Oscar. Brett Ratner, best known for Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan's Rush Hour, will produce the telecast.

Cue the hysteria.

How can a talk host—a talk host!—be mentioned in the same Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award breath with movie gods and goddess such as Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor?!

How can a dude—Ratner!—be handed the keys to the most hallowed of awards show?!

It has been argued the Academy, coming off the worst show in recent memory, is desperate, and acting accordingly.

Quick! How do you make the show more popular? Oprah! (Granted, the honorary awards will be presented in a non-televised ceremony this coming November, but surely Winfrey, a magnet for women viewers, will be present on Oscar night.)

Quick! How do you make the show more exciting? Crashes! Explosions! Jackie Chan musical numbers

Quick! How do you make the show more bad?

Not so fast there.

Winfrey and Ratner are not going to ruin the Oscars.

That shark jumped the tank when crowd-pleasers like Jaws, Rocky, Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, former Best Picture nominees all, fell out of favor.That shark jumped the tank when Rob Lowe dueted with Snow White.

But most of all, that shark jumped the tank when the war of Old Hollywood vs. New Hollywood ended.

What made the Oscars compelling TV was the threat that Frank Sinatra would take a swipe at a hippie, or that a hippie would take a swipe at Sinatra.  

But nothing lasts forever. Everybody gets along now. And the shows, through nobody's fault, except for the voters who can't be bothered to throw the popcorn likes of Harry Potter a bone, are kinda dull sometimes.

So, don't be so swift to blame, or dismiss Winfrey and Ratner.  

As a philanthropist, Winfrey withstands comparisons to Newman, Hepburn and Taylor; as a movie star, her Oscar-nominated resume trumps those of at least a couple former Jean Hersholt honorees. (Assuming you know who USO hero Martha Raye is/was, can you name one of her big-screen credits? )

As a filmmaker, Ratner withstands comparisons to the guys who made Oh, God! Book II and Glitter. (And, by the way, the guy who made Oh, God! Book II is Gil Cates, who produced the beloved Billy Crystal Oscar telecasts, and the guy who made Glitter is Laurence Mark, who produced the joyful Hugh Jackman show. Conversely, the guy who made American Beauty is Bruce Cohen, who produced the Anne Hathaway-James Franco mess, so don't go judging an Oscar producer by his or her Rotten Tomato score.)

As participants in the 2012 Oscars, Winfrey and Ratner are both very brave.

They're going to be the latest to see if they can get the shark to jump back the other way.

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