The day after the official Twitter feed for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences started tweeting out celebrity names free of context, the head of ABC has said the madness surrounding this year’s Oscar ceremony is absolutely a net positive. “Ironically, I have found that the lack of clarity around the Oscars has kept them in the conversation,” says Karey Burke, the president of ABC Entertainment. “The mystery is really compelling. People really care.” So all of this — the hosting controversy, the removal of numerous awards from the telecast controversy, the initial decision to not include all the original song nominees controversy, the not having last year’s acting winners present this year’s honors controversy — is the symptom of a healthy show, since everyone is just preserving the mystery.
Official word also came down today that the Oscars will indeed go hostless, a point that had been making Burke nervous according to The Hollywood Reporter, but no longer does, with her assuring viewers that there is a “very exciting opener planned” and that the ceremony won’t just start “people thanking their agents.” As has been made clear already, the primary directive this year is keeping the show to “a brisk three hours” in Burke’s words. She’s also taking an optimistic tone about how audiences, which are consistently in decline across the board for awards shows, will respond to the changes. “I think we’re going to see a big turnout for this,” Burke told the audience at a Television Critics Association event. “At no time in history have we had three best pictures nominees that grossed over $200 million at the box office.” Though, as New York Times Carpetbagger and Vulture alum Kyle Buchanan pointed out, that isn’t actually true.
Burke also pointed to Original Song nominees performing on the telecast, and included Kendrick Lamar’s name in the musician lineup. Lamar, however, has not been announced as a performer by the Academy.