The Best Moment of Ellen Degeneres’s genial but uneven Oscar Host turn was her celebrated Celebrity Selfie shot.
But antic Tweet-crashing aside, many of Ellen D’s playful ‘talk show’ techniques fell flat. The Oscar’s aren’t a Pizza Party and aren’t even a Golden Globe style cocktail party (which may be why Golden Girls Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have allegedly refused to take on the more staid Oscar).
Ellen’s Pizza prank went on too long and needed more napkins. Matthew McConaughey’s wife visibly stiffened as a greasy drippy pizza slice neared her lovely pale-pink designer gown. Harrison Ford lifted his slice with the game bewilderment of a Dad at a kiddie party.
Ellen D’s style works perfectly for the loose relaxed anything-goes atmosphere of a Daytime Talk Show. Similarly, David Letterman– who famously flopped at hosting the Oscars– found his Late Nite style monologue floundering with the uptight Oscar crowd. The Oscar’s producers need to embrace the formal white-tie affair that Oscar really is and stop trying to turn it into Comedy Central.
Having been privileged to attend the last two Tony Awards shows in person, cheering on the producing group Broadway Consortium, my Nominee for next year’s Oscar Host would be the multi-talented comic yet classy Neil Patrick Harris.
Harris’s expert hosting of the much-praised Tony Awards is in line with the only successful Oscar Host of recent times: Billy Crystal in his prime. Like Crystal, Harris’s talents reach beyond jokes and quips. He does a mean song-and-dance soft-shoe, looks great in a tux and combines biting wit with a touch of class.
He’d also bring the Oscar MC gig a trained theater pro’s sense of timing. Harris eschewed lengthy monologues and goofy improvised routines. His quips were quick and his song and dance turns all too brief. By not hogging the spotlight at the Tonys, Harris left both the ‘live’ and TV audiences wanting more.
The same could not be said of the ever-likable Ellen D, who finished Oscar night looking as tired as the rest of us. Neil Patrick Harris combines a TV star’s professional likability with a Theater pro’s stamina, discipline and true talent. Oscar viewers tune in to watch a high-stakes high-class awards show not a low-level comedy routine. Next year, sign up a class act like Harris and let Oscar be Oscar.
(photos: Caitlin McCarthy Tweet image, imnotobsessed.com, latimesblog.com, GoogleImages)