This year's Wall-E–less, Dark Knight–free slate of Oscar-nominated movies grossed even less than the batch honored at last year's least-watched-ever ceremony — so how does the Academy get people to tune in on February 22? Probably not with a marketing campaign based on complete secrecy, but that's the hilarious strategy of first-time awards-show producers Bill Condon and Laurence Mark! "They're always obsessive about keeping things secret," Bruce Vilanch tells today's Times. "But especially this year."
Condon and Mark are promising "surprises and a party atmosphere" on a show that will try to "reconnect with the moviegoing culture." It'll be an uphill battle, though, because they don't seem very intent on explaining to moviegoers why they should watch in the first place: In addition to their previously announced plan to withhold the names of this year's presenters until Oscar night, they're also considering having some celebrities forgo the red carpet, which they think would force fashion-curious viewers to watch the ceremony itself — when all of the stars' outfits will likely be obscured by seats and podiums.
Also, though he declined to elaborate, Vilanch indicated there might be a change in the "grouping" of awards, which we can only hope means that Slumdog Millionaire will win all ten of its Oscars in one lump presentation so we can get to bed before three.