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Funny, It Wasn’t Just Me.

So I’m sitting around the house Sunday night after a nice day of skiing with the family, and the Oscars are on. I’m kinda listening with one ear, peek in once in a while, but after about twenty minutes I just turned the set off. Didn’t miss it much, either, and for me that’s odd, because I used to go to Oscar parties pretty regularly with my movie-cognoscenti friends. For some reason, this time I just couldn’t find it in me to care. Turns out I wasn’t alone.

This blurb (“article” would be gilding the lily) in the Hollywood Reporter points out that the 2008 Academy Awards telecast was the lowest-rated in history, down 25% in viewers in the 18-to-49 demo. (Still, 32 million people watched; I’d love to have one-tenth of that number see anything I worked on. And send me a dollar. Each.) Explanations posited ideas from lowered promotional opportunities in the Writers-Strike-savaged TV season to no real crowd-pleasing movies in contention for Best Picture. I’d have to lean towards the latter here; I saw “No Country For Old Men” a few weeks ago and, as much as I admire Joel and Ethan Coen and their work, this one makes their first film “Blood Simple” look like the Miley Cyrus 3-D concert flick. It doesn’t get much darker than “No Country.” And I hear “There Will Be Blood” is not quite a laugh-a-minute either.

In any event, the whole no-one-is-watching thing made me think: What’s at work here? Awards show overload? General cultural ennui? Maybe Americans are growing out of our collective celebrity fixation? Or do the movies just suck? I have no answers; I sure hope you do.

Of course, maybe no one is watching this space either.


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A 1981 graduate of the Boston University College of Communication, Bruce A. Johnson got his first job in broadcast television at WFTV, an ABC affiliate in Orlando, FL. While there, he rose through the ranks…

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