The ONE thing the Academy Awards MUST learn from the Tony Awards.

There has been a lot said about this year’s Oscars.

On Monday morning alone, I did two interviews asking me my thoughts on everything from the diversity issue and why Broadway is better (but not perfect) at embracing all types of people (see the MSNBC article here) to the “Thank You Crawl” (see the New York Post article here).

And usually after a big event like the Oscars, I do a “Things WE can learn from the Oscars” type post (see this one).

But this time, it’s the Oscars that can learn from us.

And yeah, the diversity issue is the big one . . . just wait until our nominations come out this year.  With shows like Hamilton, The Color Purple, Spring Awakening and On Your Feet! on the boards, that Tony Nominee luncheon certainly ain’t going to look like your grandma’s country club.

So much has been said about the Oscars’ lack of diversity that I wanted to talk about the other glaring problem with the awards telecast.

The damn length.

Clocking in at almost 3:30 is killing the movie industry’s big fête, and I’m not surprised to see the ratings drop to the lowest they’ve been in 8 years (and nope, according to this article, the 8% drop wasn’t because of the Will Smith/Al Sharpton inspired boycott).

Today’s audience, especially that all important to the TV/Film world 18-49 younger demographic, demands more “efficient” entertainment.  So much of their daily intake is in short bursts . . . from blogs instead of articles to tweets instead of blogs to status updates to video clips, etc.  Everything has been distilled down.  I sloppily refer to this as the “YouTube-ization Of The Entertainment Seeker.”

To put up a 3.5 hour show and expect an audience to tune in and stay tuned in?

Prepare ye to lose your audience.

Although I really did appreciate the work that sports Producer David Hill did with the show (it was an inspired move to bring him in to shepard this sucker), the response I got from most of the friends I polled about the show?


You know what boring is code for 97% of the time?  Too long.

It’s time to trim the Academy Awards back and fit it into the 3 hour block that they force the Tony Awards into.  If we can do it, they can too.  Heck, the Oscars should just hire our fantastic long term multi-Emmy Award winning producing team of Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss to take a shot at it one year.  I bet they make them bring that sucker in on budget and on time, like good Producers are supposed to.

I know, I know, people have a lot to say on Awards shows . . . ours included.  But we’ve got to adapt to what the modern audience wants if we want them to keep watching.

And that goes for your shows too, by the way.  And no, I’m not saying that your show has to be short, but if it’s on the long side, well, your degree of difficulty goes way up.

Because if a show, any show, says something, and there’s no audience there to hear it . . . does it actually make a sound?


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.