The Academy has decided to show the presentation of all 24 Oscars live during the broadcast, following days of intense criticism regarding their decision to present four categories during commercial breaks. Faced with years of declining ratings, the Academy and ABC looked for ways to revamp their annual show to make it more appealing for mainstream audiences. Over the summer, the Academy announced that in order to help fit the telecast into a flat three-hour window, a handful of crafts categories would be handed out during commercial breaks, with the winners' acceptance speeches airing in an edited package later in the show.
Much like the proposal of the Best Popular Film category, this did no go over well with people - especially when it was revealed important categories like Cinematography and Editing were among the ones being relegated to commercial breaks. In response, a number of high-profile Hollywood figures signed an open letter to the Academy asking them to reverse their decision. For a while, it looked like the Academy was going to stick to their guns, but they've opted to go back to the way things have always been.
Variety reports that after a meeting Thursday between the Academy and "top cinematographers," the decision has been made to present all 24 awards live on the show. The mounting pushback and backlash from a plethora of industry professionals most certainly played a role in this, and the outcry was becoming too vocal for the Academy to ignore. What's more is that now the show will go past the self-imposed three-hour time limit.
The Academy did attempt to explain their controversial changes, but that obviously didn't help matters. There's no denying the optics on this were bad. Even though branches volunteered for this experiment, many people argued the very idea of commercial break presentations was disrespectful and devalued the contributions of the relegated categories. The whole point of the Oscars is to recognize and celebrate incredible achievements across all aspects of filmmaking, so every category deserves equal time in the spotlight. For many cinematographers, editors, and hair & makeup artists, Oscar Sunday is their one chance to be on a national stage and it would be a shame if the honorees had a truncated presence on the show. As it's been said, there are other Oscar staples (like the endless montages and comedy bits) that could be cut if show length is a real concern. On an awards show, all the awards should be seen live.
Commercial break presentations never should have been on the table to begin with, but the Academy does deserve credit for taking the time to listen to the protests and reversing course. It salvages what would have been a very messy situation and ends the possibility for there being even more intense disapproval leading up to the show. Certainly, Academy president John Bailey has to be looking forward to putting all this behind him as he concentrates on making 2020 a marked improvement. Maybe he should call Dwayne Johnson and figure out how The Rock can work Oscar host into his busy schedule.