The Academy Awards: “One Big TV Show”

Though The Academy Awards celebrate movies, the ceremony also makes for one of television’s biggest events: the Oscars are “one big TV show” according to Archive interviewee Ron Howard. The televised awards show provides one of those now-rare communal-TV-watching experiences that the medium used to enjoy quite frequently in its early years. When TV was just starting out and few people owned sets, neighbors used to gather around the set of the one early adopter on the block to watch television together. Oscar night, a time when people throw parties and once more convene around the tube, brings us back to a similar experience, where we can enjoy three-plus hours of ogling dresses, predicting winners, and crying during heartfelt acceptance speeches. Or perhaps you’ll watch it DVR’d and fast forward through the bulk of the broadcast, or log in to the Oscars’ mobile app for the evening’s behind-the-scenes footage. Though The Academy Awards have been an institution for 84 years now, some things have definitely changed.

Many of the Archive of American Television’s interviewees have been involved with the Oscars, from hosting, to producing, to writing, and even winning the golden statues.

Jerry Lewis on co-hosting the 1959 Academy Awards and scrambling to fill 20 minutes of airtime when the show ran short:

The late Gil Cates on producing The Academy Awards and feeling like a certain theme always jumped out at him for each year’s telecast:

Quincy Jones on producing the 1996 Academy Awards, hosted by Robin Williams:

Alan “Buz” Kohan on writing for over 20 Oscar telecasts:

Bruce Vilanch on making the most of the unexpected when writing for The Academy Awards – Jack Palance’s Best Supporting Actor Win:

And Ron Howard on winning an Academy Award for directing A Beautiful Mind:

Billy Crystal tackles hosting duties for the ninth time this evening, and Don Mischer and Brian Grazer will serve as this year’s Oscar producers. Tune in to ABC at 5:30pm PT/ 8:30 ET to see if your Oscar picks are correct! For complete info on the 84th Academy Awards, visit http://oscar.go.com/.

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