6 Ways the Oscars Can Become Watchable TV Again

Like many cinephiles, I used to love watching the Oscars on TV. Once upon a time, I even hosted Oscar parties! But, I must be honest: they've become kind of a bore lately. And apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so.
In recent years, ratings for the show have plummeted, and last year's live Oscar telecast, (hosted by Jon Stewart) earned the lowest national household ratings since 1953! That's back when people were just starting to figure out what this whole "watching television" thing was all about!

With this year's show approaching, I thought of a few ways the Academy folks can rejuvenate what was once an exciting and time-honored American pastime and make the show watchable again.

1. Find a good host, and stick with him (or her)!

after year, the Academy chooses a new comedian (or in this year's case,
a B-list actor) to host the ceremony. And every year, their choices
seem to get worse—just Google "Hugh Jackman is 2009 Oscar host"
for the evidence to prove it. Why not just pick someone everyone likes,
and allow them to host the show year after year, the way it used to
work with Billy Crystal, (and my personal favorite, Steve Martin)? Or how about hiring someone with major charisma, like our very own Lin-Manuel Miranda, to host the ceremony? At least then we Latinos would tune in in large numbers!

2. Nominate movies that people care about.

Sounds easy enough, but it hardly ever happens! Big-budget epics like Forrest Gump used to win big at the Oscars every year, but in recent years, the Academy has passed up on them in favor of smaller, darker films like Million Dollar Baby and Crash, (two movies that didn't really connect with audiences). The most watched Oscar broadcast on record was the 1998 Academy Awards, when 55 million viewers tuned into watch their beloved "Titanic" win 11 awards, including Best Picture. This year, we see a return to the epic with "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," but with the smaller "Slumdog Millionaire," as the show's predicted winner, how many viewers will care? And more importantly, how many will tune in?

3. Take a lesson from the Grammy's...

And give out some of the awards before the telecast. Everyone wants to see who wins Best Actress, Actor and Best Picture,
but do I really care who triumphs in "Best Documentary Short," "Best Short Film,"
and "Best Animated Short Film?" Heeeells, no! If they'd just present some of these minor categories off-camera, the show wouldn't be so damn long, and the only awards we'd see being distributed are the ones we actually care about. 24 categories is about 8 categories too many.

4. Bring back the many faces of Joan Rivers.

This is more a note for the Oscar pre-shows, but as the red carpet keeps getting bigger, it's become such a vital part of the night that I think it's worth mentioning. One of my favorite Oscar pastimes was seeing Joan Rivers berate the celebrities on the carpet with her perfect blend of hypocrisy, scripted insults and cruelty. But lately, she's been replaced by the likes of Kathy Griffin (and even worse, Giuliana DePandi) two women who only pretend to tell it like it is. What they really do is kiss up to the celebrities, and that's no fun for us. If only Joan was back on TV, putting stars in their places...

5. When booking artists to sing on the show, check with us first.

In 2002, when Latina Lila Downs sang "Burn it Blue" from the Oscar-nominated "Frida," I got chills. She was amazing!!! But over the past few years, Oscar singers haven't been very good. One year, the Academy hired Beyoncé to perform waaay too many songs, and I remember her coming in and out over and over again, and thinking: "Am I watching a concert or an awards show?" Then, last year, as if in an effort to punish us, they made us watch three performances from the nominated film "Enchanted," and it was not cute. With all the talent in the music business today, can't they get someone with some talent to perform? Elton John? Amy Winehouse? Sanjaya Malakar? Anyone?!

6. Nominate our Queen.

The Academy loves them some Jennifer Lopez. Every year, she's invited to the biggest event in movies, and almost every year, she doles out an award to another lucky star. But it's getting kind of annoying seeing our beloved J.Lo getting dressed to the nines, helping to pull in ratings, calling the winners' names and going home empty-handed. I think the Academy should either nominate her, or stop inviting her! I know she hasn't given an Oscar-worthy performance like, ever, but then again, neither has Gwyneth Paltrow. Get my drift?

Those are my tips. What about yours? What would help you enjoy the Oscars on TV this year?