03 March 2014

Ellen DeGeneres’ Innovative Game-Changing Oscars Hosting Style

Big fan of the movies that I have always been, I used to also love watching the Academy Awards. Until work and the Internet subsequently broke the habit of watching it annually.

Live telecasts on weekday work days made the Oscars impossible to watch. And because the Internet made the results available almost as soon as they were announced, this rather rendered watching the primetime replays pointless.

In other words, I had not seen the Oscars live lately. Until yesterday. Social media was so abuzz with it that I was tempted to take a peek. And stayed. Ellen DeGeneres was sensational!

The Oscars that I got used to watching were stiff and formal affairs. That was understandable. The Oscars were, after all, black tuxedoes and flowing gowns affairs.


I am not really a big fan of DeGeneres – although I follow her on Twitter and watch her talk show occasionally – but I was totally captivated by her hosting style yesterday at the Oscars. I love innovation and she did that yesterday with style and aplomb!
The charm of the awards came from the sheer number of Hollywood stars all assembled under one roof. Not to mention the occasional off-beat acceptance speeches. And the occasional disruption such as a nude streaker on the stage back in the seventies or eighties.

Hosts and presenters obviously read from prompters unseen by cameras. Humour has always been injected into carefully calculated and well-written lines, always drawing polite laughter and applause from the audience.

In yesterday’s show, however, DeGeneres changed the ballgame entirely with something that I had never before seen in the Oscars. She brought a totally new type of humorous spontaneity to the style of hosting that took the stiffness out of the Oscars.

She was merging with the audience instead of just staying onstage to read her lines. By merging, I don’t mean coming down for changes in camera angles. I mean really merging and being interactive with the audience.

Now knowing Americans and their attention for details, I’m rather sure that there was nothing spontaneous about it at all. Credit must go to those who visualised the awards as a production.

For instance, DeGeneres did an utterly shameless selfie with a group of actors and then posted it straightaway on Twitter. Brilliant!



Integration of a live television production with social media. They do that elsewhere, of course. But at the Oscars, it looked snazzy!

That post easily became the most retweeted ever, quickly passing the 2 million mark. DeGeneres made some remark on-camera about having crashed Twitter.

Not really. But the Twitter servers must have nonetheless struggled to cope with the simultaneous volume of requests.

DeGeneres was not done yet.

In one segment, she had the utter gall and cheek to bring in the pizza boy. With real pizza. Which she started to distribute to those nearest to her. Initially, the industry people closest to her didn’t quite know what to make of the situation.

Until somebody said he wanted a slice. And then the others started to follow. There was something quirky – if in a nice way – in seeing all those glitzily garbed Hollywood people reaching out for slices of pizza and taking bites live on camera.

Then DeGeneres quipped that she did not have money and would have to come back to collect to be able to pay the pizza boy. Who was too good looking, anyway, to have been a real pizza boy. Must have been a fledgling actor given his moment in the limelight.

Later in another segment, a hat in her hands, DeGeneres did come back to start collecting money from those who asked for slices of pizza. It was quite hilarious and some didn’t quite know if she was serious or not.

There were those who seemed grudging when they paid up; which made the segment even funnier. One actor played along and handed her a 20 dollar bill saying, “That’s for you!”

Guffaws.

Copying, they do say, is the ultimate form of flattery. I expect copycats in other awards ceremonies both here and abroad. DeGeneres might just have changed the way the game is played.

I am not really a big fan of DeGeneres – although I follow her on Twitter and watch her talk show occasionally – but I was totally captivated by her hosting style yesterday at the Oscars. I love innovation and she did that yesterday with style and aplomb!

Acknowledgement: Top photo from http://www.timesofap.com/





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