Every year at least one critic complains the Oscars telecast was the worst ever, but this year, there's a lot of them saying that--and they mean it. (Cinema Blend even invoked the D word, for "disaster." )
Instead of piling on, we put on our thinking cap, and--voila!--we figured out how to save the next show:
1. Don't Overreact: Now is not the time to throw out the twentysomethings actors with James Franco and Anne Hathaway, and run back to the likes of Billy Crystal.
There's nothing wrong with middle-aged comics, mind you, but there's nothing wrong with twentysomething actors, either.
Even if the Franco-Hathaway pairing didn't work--and, as a tandem, it didn't--the idea was a good one: Maybe in execution it just lacked the proper Pineapple Express star, namely, Seth Rogen.
Also, don't jump to the conclusion that the only problem--or, even the main problem--with Sunday's show was the hosts.
Which brings us to...
2. Outwit (or Buy Out) the Competition: Give the Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, Producers Guild, etc., whatever they want to stop giving out trophies before the Oscars. Or, option two, publicly schedule the big show for late February, but then fool everybody by holding it the day after the Golden Globes. (Granted, we're not at all sure how you'd go about producing a surprise ceremony: Maybe Evite?)
On show night, Franco could've been stiffer than he was, and people might've talked more about The King's Speech and Natalie Portman if people didn't already know with 99.9 percent certainty that they were going to win.
Movie stars are better when they're mysterious, and so are awards shows.
3. Show the Voting Results: Imagine if right after Christian Bale's win, an on-screen graphic told you what percentage of the vote he got. Not only that, it told you what percentage of the vote his fellow nominees got. Not only that, it showed up all night long, for every category. Think you'd stay put for three hours even if you knew within 99.9 percent certainty that The King's Speech was going to claim Best Picture?
We heard the Los Angeles Times' John Horn talk up something along these lines on the radio, and we love the idea so much we don't even think it's distasteful or rude. After all, where's the dishonor in having the whole wide world learn so-and-so came in "last" at the Oscars? We should all be such a "loser."
4. Nominate Breaking Dawn and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 for Best Picture: We are serious even as we seriously pander. Imagine the shock. Imagine the surprise. Imagine the fandom wars.
5. Let Franco Open up Next Year's Show: Even after Sunday, we still like the idea of Franco, the movie star-soap star-writer-college student-self-inventor, and we don't want his performance, if that's what you'd call it, to be our lasting Oscar impression of him. So, book him for 2012, and let him exorcise his and the 2011's show's demons by being charming or funny. Or awake.
UPDATE: So, our headline originally said "Five Ways for the Oscars to Rebound From the James Franco 'Disaster," by which we meant the Franco-hosted show. But in retrospect it read like we were calling Franco a disaster, and while--our two cents--he just wasn't very good on Sunday, calling him a disaster seemed kinda mean. (Also, it turns out he was pretty entertaining backstage.)
So, we're giving ourselves the do-over we think Franco should be given himself.