Oscars producers enlist celebs and pop stars to build buzz
Oscars 2014 organizers are hoping a starry list of performers and presenters will build buzz, with (from left) Pink, Sidney Poitier, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Benedict Cumberbatch set to appear. (Associated Press)
The glitzy and glamorous Oscars telecast may be one of the most-watched television events of the year, but it's also one of the most predictable. It's not surprising then that producers are always vying to liven things up.
Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, back for another go after last year's Seth MacFarlane-hosted affair, unveiled a wide-ranging but still-starry slate of presenters today.
It's clear they want to build anticipation across different demographic groups. They've got current buzz-generators (Benedict Cumberbatch, Kerry Washington, Channing Tatum, Kevin Spacey) and classic Hollywood faces (Sidney Poitier, Kim Novak, Robert De Niro).
Youth bait (Jennifer Lawrence, Zac Efron, Chris Hemsworth, Emma Watson, Andrew Garfield), celebrated stars (Matthew McConaughey, Naomi Watts, Brad Pitt, Viola Davis, Daniel Day-Lewis) as well as perennial crowd-pleasers (Jim Carrey, Samuel L. Jackson, Angelina Jolie, Will Smith) are also on tap.
This long and somewhat populist list follows last week's announcement that the Oscars will feature a Grammy-worthy list of entertainment: from pop singer Pink, rock veterans U2 and everyone's favourite Top 40 falsetto Pharrell Williams to Yeah Yeah Yeahs vocalist Karen O and Broadway belters Bette Midler and Idina Menzel.
It all sounds promising. Yet a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll in the U.S. underlines one of the perpetual problems plaguing the Academy Awards: that a minority of the movie-watching public has even seen any of the best-picture nominees.
Even this year's most-watched best-picture contender — the Somali piracy thriller Captain Phillips — was only seen by 15 per cent of the respondents, closely followed by the eye-popping space drama Gravity.
Remember when the fiery Chris Rock hosted the Oscars in 2005 (Sean Penn, it was a joke!)? He famously showed a video where he and a camera crew visited an average neighbourhood to see what movies regular folks were really watching — and it wasn't that year's nominees either.
It's unlikely this year's genial, lovable host Ellen DeGeneres (back again after her 2007 stint) will scorch the Academy like Rock did when she takes the stage on March 2.
But the Oscars producers have an uphill battle against the expected humdrum nonetheless.
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