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Don’t mess with speeches, readers say In Focus by Richard Crouse February 20, 2009

pwstreisand-thumb-510x340-53352It seems everyone has a favorite Oscar speech. Last week I wrote a column suggesting four ways to streamline the speeches and give the behemoth Academy Awards broadcast some forward momentum. The response from readers indicates the speeches are one element of the show they would rather not see tampered with. Cut the musical numbers, shorten the opening monologue, kill the Price Waterhouse tribute — but don’t mess with the speeches. “The Academy Awards are about four things,” wrote Andrea from Toronto. “The shoes, the dresses, the jewelry and the speeches.”

It’s funny, I thought they were about the movies, but then again, the red carpet’s “glam cams” before the ceremony get more eyeballs than the show itself, so I guess Andrea has a point.

Some like emotional speeches. Gary in Halifax says his favorite Oscar moment came when Russell Crowe accepted best actor for Gladiator. “If you grow up in the suburbs of anywhere,” the actor said, wearing his grandfather’s MBE on his lapel. “A dream like this seems kind of vaguely ludicrous and completely unattainable, but this moment is directly connected to those imaginings. And for anybody who’s on the downside of advantage, and relying purely on courage, it’s possible.”

Others said they liked funny speeches. Brian in Toronto wondered which Oscar acceptance speeches made me laugh.  I immediately thought of Geoffrey Rush, who accepted the best actor award for Shine with the words, “This is for all the people who were happy to bankroll the film as long as I wasn’t in it,” but settled on Paul Williams, the five-foot-two Best Song winner who said, “I was going to thank all the little people, but then I remembered I am the little people!”

Most agreed with me that the “thank yous” are an important component of any acceptance speech, but suggested that less is always more. Jen927 said that winners should just follow the lead of Julia Roberts and simply thank “everybody I’ve ever met in my entire life.”

The final word on Oscar acceptance speeches came from Claudio’s Blackberry who reminded me of host Danny Kaye’s 1952 joke, “The Academy asks that your speech be no longer than the movie itself.”

Amen to that.

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