KEEPING UP WITH THE MOVIE TIMES

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) a.k.a. The group that fobs off The Oscars for the best in movies, announced last week that their annual telecast will be trimmed down to concentrate on the awards that the home audience tend to really care about.

David Rubin, AMPAS president, sent a memo to its members stating that for the 94th annual event scheduled to take place at The Dolby Theater in Hollywood on Sunday, March 27th, stated that the awards for picture (film) editing, production design, sound, makeup and hairstyling, original music score, and the three short film awards for documentary, live-action and animated will be presented at the ceremony before the live broadcast begins over ABC This change will make this awards show and its revamped broadcast as “tighter and more electric” as The Academy declared in their statement to its voting members.

The reasons for this change reflects upon the tastes and interests of the general audience that tune in to this telecast each year, one of the “big four” awards programs that reflect upon the entertainment based media. This counts for the Grammy Awards for recorded music and sound, the Emmys for television based programming, and the Tony Awards for live Broadway centric theater productions.

The Oscars holds the largest interest nationwide, and in some respect, the world’s interest, to what is considered the “best” within its field, based upon the voting choices of its members. These said members, many are chosen to be eligible for membership based upon their professional involvement in the medium they are involved in, have the opportunity to vote for the best something or another from a movie based element that first made its accessible premier or release in the given time frame of eligibility. Usually that eligible time frame is set within a calendar year (January 1st-December 31st), or through a chosen time frame. (July 1st-June 30th, etc.)

Granted, what is considered as the “best” within its field only reflects upon the voting member’s domain, but not necessarily falling within the same realm to the public that is exposed to the medium, and not necessarily involved in anything the median does or presents. In other words, it’s a battle between the professionals that believe that they know their stuff, and the public at large that consume and perhaps buy the product because they either want to consume the item(s), or they just like it through general interest and overall amusement.

But getting back to The Oscars and the movies they cover. The movie industry had been going through a change in how they conduct their business thanks to the Pandemic. Since March of 2020, many movie theaters have either conducted their theaters as smaller and tighter, or totally shut themselves down. People stayed away from these movie houses only to consume the product through streaming media. At the same time, the sources that stream said media doubled down only to expand their offerings, if not getting involved in creating the content. (Sources as Apple, Amazon, and Netflix all have movie titles they created and/or products that are up for awards this year!) Streaming makes it convenient, if not cheaper, to offer their said content to people’s home bases, giving them the opportunity to consume a movie or its equivalent in the comfort and privacy of their living spaces that they could not obtain while inside of a traditional movie house. And thanks to technology where people can have movie theater type systems inside of their home spaces with a big size screen, a booming sound source, and a comfortable place to plop themselves down in front of the screen and speakers to watch what they want, and when they want it! (Showtimes can be set as 3:17 AM or PM!!) They can snack on whatever they can create at home, from gourmet popcorn to barbecue meats, for a fraction of what it would normally cost if the foods could be obtained some place else. (Thanks to food delivery services, the grub can even be sent to their doorsteps in a flash!) And they don’t have to worry about any annoying or obnoxious patrons that may be inside the same room where the feature is displaying itself. That is, unless the home viewer decides to talk through the entire feature and/or to send text messages to the parties on the other end of the text messaging source on whatever topic is worth texting about!

Also, unless one is involved and/or interested in such creative fields as picture editing (formally known as film editing), or music score–the type of music played throughout a movie that one doesn’t necessarily notice, movie viewers hold little to no interest in such creative aspects in a movie. All they care to see is who appears in front of the camera, and the director person that tells the actors what to do, how to do it, and how to utter their words that they are supposed to say based upon how it reads within the scripted pages.

And within the last few years, the number of viewers that turn on their video devices to see a live event such as an awards program has fallen. This also goes for sporting events as well. Even with sure fire audience pleasure as The Olympics and even The Super Bowl, they has seen its share of audience drop in numbers. Then again, steaming media, the second coming (or third, or forth) of television, is the new way that people consume the product. And out of the four major awards shows, The Oscars hold the biggest draw. The Emmys Awards ranks in second place sometimes trying with The Grammy Awards. The Tony Awards for New York City based theater falls dead last!

However, the folks at AMPAS will show tightly edited segments of the announcement of the winners for the lesser categories throughout the live telecast so those winners can have their “Oscar moment”. This may be great for those that know or know of those folks that may win or award or not in their categories. But for the rest of those tuning in i.e. the public, it could be received as a “that’s nice” or as a “who gives a s#it?”

And as a side note, AMPAS has teamed up with Twitter to let the public speak on what they believe should be the best feature film based upon their own tastes, and that result will be acknowledged during the event. One can guess that the movie chosen will be either an action/adventure film with comic book superheroes as its leads, a family friendly animation title, or even a fantasy themed movie overloaded with computer generated special effects. Those titles may be eligible for an Oscar as a best of something in terms of special effects and/or animation efforts, but vary rarely for an acting/directing effort, or even as a best picture! (Sony Studio’s latest Spider Man title release that actually brought folks back inside of a movie house this season as “Best Picture”? Why not…?)

This writer belongs to a group that votes for the best in movies and TV, but not as a member of AMPAS. (This writer tends to lean more toward television programs but as a preservationist rather than a creator.) So whatever results seen this March will have the audience pick and choose what’s in store for this industry. After all, there have been feature length “movies” released that were totally captured and edited on a consumer level iPhone, meaning that anyone can make a “movie”. That’s the good part. What’s the bad part? Anyone can create a “movie”! One can be ready for their close up Mr. DeMille, or it’s set as another run of DeMille

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Theater West presents THIS JOINT IS JUMPIN’, a musical review that features Broadway star Maybin Hewes that teams up with a set of talented stars that perform in a classic style tune filled and comical stage showcase.

Hewes, a woman that first graced the Broadway stage in the original run of Pal Joey in the 1950’s and never stopped since, leads this show as her team of other players that consist of Anna Domencia Gagliardo, Nicole Gianuca, Bonnie Kalisher, Ronald McElroy (as tap dancing “special guest star”), Arlene Parness, Mitchell Roche, Lauren Sullivan, Sydney Swearengin, and Elise Walters appear in musical numbers, short comic skits & blackouts, and dance presentations as they grace the stage performing a selection of musical tunes from good ol’ “tin pan alley” to lavish musical theater, as well as some ballads from the not-too-distant past, all in an elemental yet tight presentation.

Performing while donning functional costuming set upon a blacked back curtain, each of the players shows off what they can do using the blend of formulas that hark vaudeville, burlesque, and those variety shows that were commonplace on TV from its beginnings through the 1970’s, back when every TV viewer would view a program all at the same time and day when “streaming media” was billed as another type of performance act.

Backed with the duo of Ron Rose on keyboards who also serves as musical director, and Owen Goldman on percussion, this combo hits the notes and beats for the songs that are sung and played throughout, proving to its audience that the said songs as well as the jokes and gags that are noted between numbers are so old, they become new again! This is especially true to those audience members who were not fortunate to be around when those songs, and maybe some of the comical bits, were indeed new-er!

Hewes also conceived the “book” of this showcase under the stage direction of Judy Rose. And at the robust stage of life at ninety-one seasons and counting, Hewes is still going strong! She is in truth one of the final performers of her type still standing that can provide the facts to the entertainment world that there is no stopping her now! That’s a great sign to note as she can still sign off as well as sing off! And though it’s been billed that she is doing this “one more time”, let’s wish her to continue to keep on keeping on through many more “one more times”!

THIS JOINT IS JUMPIN’, presented by Theater West and 44th St. Productions, performs at Theater West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. Los Angeles (North Hollywood Adjacent), and performs on Sundays, February 27th and March 6th at 2:00 PM, and Saturday, March 5th at 7:00 PM.

For reservations and further information, call (323) 851-7977, or online at http://TheaterWest.org

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