Brett Ratner to produce Oscars

The patient's outlook is improving?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has chosen Brett Ratner (he previously directed X-Men and Horrible Bosses) to produce the next Oscars telecast, which will take place on February 26th. It’s an interesting move, one that would indicate the Academy is fighting to reverse the tide of poor ratings–and it’s getting worse: last year’s audience share was a whopping 10% lower than 2010.

Where did things go wrong, and can a Ratner-helmed ceremony turn things around?

Last year’s move, inviting Anne Hathaway and James Franco to emcee the three-hour plus telecast, was quickly seen as a major trip-up. There was no chemistry between the two, Franco did not seem to be into it, and Hathaway just wasn’t a good fit.

I’ll tell you what the problem is with the Oscars: it’s too long. Apprehension is not the right feeling to have as you sit on the couch with your snacks. Take the Cannes prize-giving ceremony. Not the best example, but close enough. It’s a forty-five minute, no-frills affair and it always hits the spot with plenty of wit and a measure of unpredictability. And yet, there is pump and circumstance, too.

Now I’m not saying the Oscars should be forty-five minute-long. But if the Academy and Ratner could agree on a one hundred-twenty-minute broadcast, skip those awful retrospective montages and stop writing the show so much, their audience share may improve.