It’s a Hollywood tradition: Win a big award, thank everybody in the business. (Refer to handy list of names so that no one is forgotten.)
Mary J. Blige crammed 55 names into her two-minute acceptance speech at the Grammys two weeks ago, thanking God, Jesus, her three children, a company’s worth of record executives and the tape-delivery guy.
Winners at Sunday’s Academy Awards, though, can fill their allotted 45 seconds of acceptance-speech time with something more meaningful and save the roll call of names for a Web-based alternative — the new “Thank-You Cam.”
The backstage camera will offer winners ample time to thank however many people they want or say anything else they didn’t say on stage. Those individual videos will be broadcast moments later on Oscar.com, where they will remain until next year’s show, said Thank-You Cam host Allyson Waterman.
“It allows nominees to have another outlet to express their appreciation for the people who brought them here,” Waterman said Wednesday, as she and the Thank-You Cam team sought a spot for their camera backstage at the Kodak Theatre. “It takes the pressure off. Don’t worry about the list, say what you want to say from the heart and the rest will live on the Internet.”
Academy Awards producer Laura Ziskin came up with the Thank-You Cam concept months ago to dissuade winners from doing the list thing on stage.
“When you bring a piece of paper up there, it’s deadly,” she said.
It’s an invitation to tune out. Wouldn’t you rather have a snack or take a bathroom break than listen to a litany of names?
Some winners feel they must mention their attorneys, agents, publicists and colleagues on television, Ziskin said.
“If you’re thanking people out of obligation — and I understand that obligation — we have the Thank-You Cam,” said the veteran producer. “You can e-mail it, you can send it. We will talk about it in the show.”
The Thank-You Cam will also offer Oscar fans a glimpse backstage, Waterman said.
“It plays into America’s insatiable appetite for celebrities and real celebrity moments,” she said. “This gives you that private, intimate, only-us experience.”
Sound engineer Kevin O’Connell, who serves as a governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is enjoying his 19th Oscar nomination this year. He feels the Thank-You Cam is good for everyone.
It makes academy officials happy because it should help keep the Oscar show lively, he said. It’s good for winners because they can thank as many people as they want, he added, noting that after 19 nominations — and no wins — he “probably has a thousand people” to thank. It also allows viewers at home to enhance the Oscar experience online.
“I love it on all accounts,” O’Connell said. “But I’m just looking for the opportunity to thank anybody, whether on stage or off.”