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03 October 2023

Brevity is soul of Oscar speeches

By Agencies

Academy Award organisers have come up with a novel idea for avoiding those boring Oscar acceptance speeches filled with "thank yous". Their solution: have the winners give two speeches.

Contenders for the world's top film honours including George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges gathered on Monday for the annual Oscar nominees luncheon in Beverly Hills, and as is tradition, the show's producers offered tips on giving the 45-second acceptance speeches.

Typically, that advice is to keep them short and avoid a long list of "thank yous" to agents, directors, spouses and family. Oscar co-producer Bill Mechanic called those often teary-eyed thanks "the single most-hated thing on the show".

Instead, he and co-producer Adam Shankman will have winners give two speeches: one onstage telling audiences what winning an Oscar means to them, and a second backstage for a "Thank You Cam" where winners can say "Thanks" to whomever they want. "Share your passion on what the Oscar means to you" with the audience, Shankman told nominees at the luncheon.

He said the backstage video would be posted on the web and winners could use them however they liked – e-mail them to their friends and even post them on their Facebook pages.

Mechanic said: "We want you to think about this more seriously than you have in the past. I can tell you from experience that being 'laundry listed' didn't exactly make me feel great. I would rather have heard how much an award meant to somebody than have my name be one among many."

He jokingly reminded Oscar winners who did not abide by the 45-second time limit on acceptance speeches that producers could employ a variety of measures to keep the show running on time.

Orchestral music could be used to drown out a recipient's words or a microphone could simply be switched off. "Our favourite was a trap door but we were talked out of it," he said.

Of course, there were no guarantees the nominees would follow directions. So to illustrate their idea, the producers showed a videotape of past winners such as Renee Zellweger talking about what winning meant to them.

Organisers had one more surprise waiting. When Oscars are awarded, the statuettes given onstage do not have a nameplate because nobody knows the winners. After several weeks, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nameplates engraved and fixed to the winners' statuettes.

This year, Oscar organisers will have the nameplates engraved at the gala Governor's Ball, so the winners can have their names put on after the show.


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