Oscars Ready to Rock But Maybe Not Roll

With the explosion of new TV awards shows, even the biggest program can use the marketing spice of controversy.

Going against the grain of comedic hosts, such as Billy Crystal or Steve Martin, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences picked Chris Rock to host this year's award show, which runs on ABC at the end of this month.

ABC must be thrilled with the prospect of Rock grabbing younger viewers. The Oscars broadcast is regularly the second highest rated show after the Super Bowl, and the Academy makes gobs of money. At $1.6 million for a 30-second spot, the Academy annually pulls in around $100 million.

Hiring Rock, though, isn't enough; but his opinions could be.

Right on cue, Rock let his feelings known about the Oscars: "Come on, it's a fashion show," Rock told Entertainment Weekly. "No one performs; it's not like a music show. What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars?" Later on, he said, "The Aviator" is "a weird movie" and vowed to steal an Oscar for Jamie Foxx if the actor doesn't win one of his own.



Of course, Rock is somewhat right. The Oscars have been called "The Super Bowl for Women." Is it any wonder the major cosmetic companies fight for advertising time on the show?

All this could be new territory. Typically, the Academy host waits until he is actually doing the show to take a jab at his employer.

Some years ago, David Letterman fronted the Academy Awards in which he poked fun at celebs and the whole Oscar process, but some ---including his good friend, Tom Hanks -- weren't always eager to play along.

Remember his faux-playful introductions of one movie star and one daytime host?

"Uma. Oprah. Oprah. Uma."

Give the Academy some credit in trying to make the awards a bit less stuffy in choosing Rock. The question is, will it be a bit too much? Or, are Rock's remarks a nice marketing calling card?

Daily Variety didn't buy Rock's remarks as entirely spontaneous. "Rock's comments appeared to be in keeping with efforts by the Academy and ABC to boost TV ratings for the Feb. 27 Oscarcast."

And if not -- there are always stupid movie star tricks.

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