Thanks, But No Thanks

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First, 10 best picture nominees. Now, another sign that Oscar producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman just aren't getting it: This year's Academy Award nominees were asked to prepare two speeches in the event they win. One, for broadcast, will be the chance for them to "share your passion on what the Oscar means to you," according to Shankman. A separate camera, dubbed the "Thank You Cam," will be set up backstage for them to express their gratitude, those speeches to be broadcast online.

Saving the personal thank-yous for later would have eliminated some of the best and most memorable speeches in the history of the Oscars. One that springs instantly to mind is Louise Fletcher's in 1976, when she won for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Thanking her deaf parents in sign language while speaking aloud, she expressed gratitude for being taught to dream. "You are seeing my dream come true," Fletcher concluded. Similarly, when Jodie Foster won her first Oscar, for "The Accused" in 1989, she thanked her mother, who taught her "that cruelty might be very human and it might be very cultural, but it's not acceptable, which is what this movie's about."

According to Reuters, "Mechanic called those often teary-eyed thanks 'the single most-hated thing on the show.' " We're not sure what show he has been watching, but the emotional speeches are by far the most remembered. How else would Sally Field's cry of "You really like me" still be a punch line after more than 20 years?

Once again, this night is supposed to be about honoring the winners, and the Oscars have found another way to diminish their participation. This is an effort to keep the show shorter and more interesting, but somehow none of the show's producers seems to get that it's never the acceptance speeches that eat up so much time. It's the unnecessary tributes and song-and-dance numbers that drag the show out. People are watching because they want to hear what the winners have to say in their moments of glory. And those winners have earned the right to do what they want with the 45 seconds given. Yes, they have only 45 seconds. Meantime, last year's tribute to musicals ran almost six minutes. Remember that? When the kids from "High School Musical" and "Mamma Mia!"—who, combined, haven't spent as many years in the business as, say, this year's likely best actor winner, Jeff Bridges—sang with Hugh Jackman and Beyoncé Knowles? This year, Kathryn Bigelow stands a very good chance of being the first woman to win an Oscar for best director. If we had to choose what to give more time to—Bigelow's speech or a special tribute to the history of aluminum foil in the movies—we'd go with the former.

Bear in mind that when the Oscars air this Sunday, it's a live show—so the winners can pretty much do what they want when they get up there. Here's hoping this is one of those instances when actors don't take their direction.