It happens every year at the Oscars: The winner’s name is called and she fights a crowd of congratulators to make her way to the podium. She fetches a piece of paper from whatever nook or cranny she managed to hide it in and begins to read: I want to thank my agent, my manager, my husband, my parents, my dog walker, my insurance agent, my pharmacist. The audience’s collective eyes glaze over and the speech is all but forgotten.
But the producers of this year’s ceremony will not let it happen this year. At Monday’s luncheon for nominees, Reginald Hudlin and David Hill encouraged winners to use their 45 seconds to deliver a more meaningful message (read: make better TV). Before the ceremony, nominees will be instructed to fill out a scroll card with the names of all the people they wish to thank if they win. The winner will then deliver an acceptance speech unencumbered by thank yous as the names scroll across the bottom of the broadcast.
This means the pressure to remember names is off, only to be replaced by a new imperative to stir emotion in viewers. The change will also prevent meaningful speeches—like last year’s Best Documentary Short winner Dana Perry’s emotional discussion of a son who committed suicide—from being abruptly cut off by swooning strings.
One added bonus for the winners and the folks to whom they owe their victories? “Words are written on the winds,” Hudlin and Hall said. “A screen grab of your scroll can be kept forever.”
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