April 20, 2005

BOOKS: The Big Show, Steve Pond (2005)

For a decade or so, Pond has had nearly complete access behind the scenes of the Academy Awards show, and has reported on that drama in an annual article for Premiere magazine, each report appearing in the next year's Oscar issue. The Big Show is a collection of those articles, along with a brief introductory chapter about the history of the show.

Pond's reporting is solid enough, and at annual intervals, his reports on the preparation of each show are quite interesting. But taken as a group, there's a certain monotony that sets in as each year's producers deal with the same issues. Who will sing the nominated songs? Can we get star X to present award Y? Will Whoopi/Billy/Robin tell a joke that sets off the network censor? And above all else, how can we get the show to end before midnight?

(My take on the last question: You can't, and you should stop trying. Start the show at 8 instead of 8:30 -- that should be no-brainer, especially now that the show's on Sunday instead of Monday -- and let people make their speeches. For most of them, it's the only Oscar they'll ever win, and they should be allowed to enjoy the moment.)

If you haven't read Pond's Premiere articles, then you might find The Big Show entertaining, a chapter at a time, but only if you're an Oscar fanatic or completist.

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