Organizers of the 77th Annual Academy Awards have come up with a novel way to keep the Oscars (relatively) short and sweet this year: in-audience trophy presentation.
Yes, in an attempt to keep the interminably long award show running at a faster clip, producer Gil Cates has announced some major format changes, including handing some of the lower-profile statuettes to winners at their seats rather than having viewers wait for the largely unrecognizable behind-the-scenes folks to make that long trek to the stage.
"The concept this year is to minimize the line between people onstage and in the audience," Cates announced at the annual nominee award lunch Monday in Beverly Hills.
Not to mention minimizing the face time for the top sound-editing guys and makeup mavens.
Another strategy Cates intends to employ is to gather all of the nominees in several categories onstage and then hand out the Oscar, again to avoid that hike to the stage.
Of course, Cates was quick to point out that the new rules will not apply to every category--especially those that include the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Natalie Portman and Clint Eastwood (after all, Cates wouldn't want to make Clint's day).
As has become routine, Cates did urge all potential winners to keep their acceptance speeches quick and issue blanket thank-yous in lieu of reading long lists of names.
"Please, please, please don't pull out a piece of paper," Cates beseeched the nominees. "If you do, you're done...This is your assignment: Just say one unexpected thing."
Cates swears all of the changes are designed to make the show more user-friendly and to best suit the improvised, audience-participatory comic stylings of the show's new host, Chris Rock.
Cates said Rock plans to take a cue from The Ed Sullivan Show and recognize members of the audience throughout his bit.
"Chris is an upfront, right-at-you kind of guy," Cates told the Los Angeles Times, "so we needed to format the show to accommodate that."
The ceremony will also feature a new, more interactive set that will jut into the crowd, as well as cameras all over the Kodak Theater to show more of the celeb-filled audience. "It's very complicated," Cates said. "And I guess it could be a complete mess. But I don't think so."
In other Oscar news, ABC confirmed it would, for the second year in a row, use a seven-second delay for the Oscars. The delay was implemented last year in the wake of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction but not used.
The Alphabet net and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences have also reupped their deal to keep the show on ABC through 2014, adding six years to their current contract.
By the end of the new term, ABC will have aired a whopping 38 consecutive telecasts and 56 of the 61 of the televised Academy Award ceremonies.
The 2005 Oscar show will take place Feb. 27 live on, yes, ABC.