FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 06, 2006
Oscars aren't just about films
Beyond the main headline, Oscars coverage isn’t just about winning films -– in the same way that election and sports reports aren't just about who won. Invite young readers to find articles, photos and portions of reports that reflect the Academy Awards show's wider themes. Do any appear outside the entertainment pages?
Academy Awards finalists get a box office boost, especially when they haul in multiple statues. Newspaper readers can learn what reviewers think of each film, who was nominated, who won and where movies are playing. Ask students to point out other consumer information and reviews in the daily paper that help readers decide what to see and buy.
Sunday night's event spills over swiftly from news columns into paid advertising space. Suggest that students see how soon Oscars are showcased prominently in movie ads this week. Have them discuss what type of preparations and shortcuts can speed the promotional response.
The 78th annual Academy Awards extravaganza televised from Los Angeles on Sunday night mainly honored actors, directors, writers, producers, cinematographers, producers, songs, costumers, designers, makeup artists and effects specialists who made last year’s “best” movies.
But as with any pop culture celebration, the 3½-hour show – and news coverage of it – is about much, much more. The Oscars ceremony is about marketing, politics, celebrities, fashion, unscripted emotions and – this time – political satirist Jon Stewart’s debut as host. An estimated 40 million Americans and "hundreds of millions" watching worldwide gave the Comedy Central star his largest audience ever.
On a broader level, the Oscars presentation also gives global viewers a glimpse of American culture, Hollywood-style.
Insiders say: Film awards celebrate "the power of movies to change the way we're thinking," as Oscar-nominated director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) said before the Kodak Theater presentations. Entertainment journalist Steve Pond, author of a book about the event called The Big Show, says it helps filmgoers learn about actors when they’re not playing a role. "You get to see these people at a point of vulnerability that they rarely show at any other time. . . . Who doesn't want to catch the losers in that moment of disappointment that proves impossible to hide?" .
Advertisers say: The awarding of golden statues is a golden marketing opportunity. Two dozen companies, many of them returnees, paid an estimated average of $1.7 million for each 30-second ad. "The attentiveness for the show is at a much higher level than a normal show," said cosmetics executive Carol Hamilton, president of a L'Oréal USA division that aired six commercials during the ceremony. "It will be the most-watched show by our consumers" of any TV program this year. About two-thirds of Oscars-watchers are women, ratings show.
Cheap shot sniper says: "It will be 99 hours of nonstop entertainment," Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry predicted before an earlier Academy Awards show. He cited such dubious moments as "movie stars reading spontaneous banter from Teleprompters, shots of the always-fascinating Jack Nicholson sitting in the audience and people you never heard of thanking other people you never heard of."
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