Could the Brett Ratner Oscars Be a Good Thing?
The only way Tom Sherak and Dawn Hudson could have enraged the online community further with the selection of an Oscar co-producer for 2012 is if they hired Michael Bay. That's the kind of vitriol newly minted Oscar producer -- and apparent walking Old Hollywood Wikipedia page -- Brett Ratner brings to the table. When it was announced late Thursday that Ratner would produce the Oscars next winter with Don Mischer, a cacophony of "What the fuck?" rose up from Twitter with the speed of one of Chris Tucker's monologues in Rush Hour. It's a terrible, no-good, off-the-grid idea! Except for the fact that maybe it isn't.
As mentioned earlier, neither the Oscars nor Ratner really have anything to lose in this scenario. For the director -- whose upcoming Tower Heist will be his first full-length feature film since Rush Hour 3 in 2007 -- he'll either be lauded for making the Oscars merely OK (at this point is there any way that the Academy Awards telecast can be considered great?) or derided for living down to his hack reputation. For AMPAS, it doesn't actually seem possible that things can get worse than they were this year, when co-host James Franco sleepwalked through three hours of Anne Hathaway chirps and boring, uninspired montages, set pieces and speeches. Unless Ratner burns down the Kodak Theater in a stunt gone awry, the 2012 Oscars will likely be better than the 2011 version just by the sheer fact that they aren't the 2011 version.
There's also the point that nothing the producer of the Academy Awards does really has much of an impact on the structure of the show; in Brian McNamee terms, it is what it is. As Ratner himself told Deadline, "I can't change the Academy Awards because it's an institution, but I can create a great show for everybody."
That is debatable -- and, for some, unlikely -- but let's give him a shot. In this age of immediate Internet backlash -- when every studio-approved publicity still is torn apart based on hair and setting -- it's always difficult to remember that until we actually see something, an early opinion isn't necessarily the final word. (It's tough even for professionals like myself.)
Brett Ratner might produce the worst Oscars ever -- or maybe he won't -- but piling on at this point feels a little bit like grabbing at low-hanging fruit. Besides, who doesn't want to see how he gets Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan together on stage in the show's first five minutes?
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