Oscar Organizers Ask Stars to Skip Red Carpet to Boost Ratings
In an effort to increase television audience numbers for this year's Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is asking presenters to avoid the red carpet altogether so that people will have to watch the actual awards to see what they're wearing.
A mere 32 million tuned in to watch the Oscars last year, down a whopping 20% from 2007.
The Academy Awards take place on February 22 in Hollywood's Kodak theatre, and is one of the most glamorous and star-studded events of the year. The Oscars red carpet is a tradition and has become a highly publicized event where stars can flaunt the couture and gowns of renowned designers for hours before the awards begin.
Several publicists said last week that presenters who their firms represent had been asked to use an off-camera entrance this year.
An academy spokesperson denied the request had gone to all presenters but confirmed, "There is a hope that some of the people who present will be a surprise."
This tactic could be highly problematic for the designers who rely on the red carpet attention to promote their work - plus, the glitz and excitement of scrutinizing the gowns of starlets as they walk down the red carpet amid a flurry of photographers and spectators isn't quite as engaging when they are simply appearing on stage for 30 seconds to introduce an award.
"If you show only half the people who are going to be at the Oscars beforehand on the red carpet, that's not a very good commercial for the show," photographer and WireImage co-founder Jeff Vespa told the newspaper. "How do you have the largest red carpet in the world and put less celebs on it?"
"From a business point of view, how likely are we to see fashion credits if these people don't walk the red carpet?" agreed publicist Marilyn Heston, whose MHA Media firm represents popular designers such as Elie Saab and Reem Acra. "And if not, what's the point of all this effort and great expense in having a girl wear a dress? There's a lot involved."
It's a safe bet that actors nominated for awards will do the red carpet route, and it is only some of the presenters who will take the back door entrance.
For more coverage of the 81st Annual Academy Awards, check out the NowPublic Oscars channel.
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