Although there had been some reports that the trophy show would move to a January airdate, ABC and the academy said the show was back to the traditional final Sunday in February for the 87th annual Oscars in 2015.
ABC pays a hefty sum for the rights to broadcast the Oscars, and it would naturally prefer to have the event as part of its February “sweeps” ratings arsenal — especially with the awards franchise on the rebound, ratings-wise.
Although most TV critics hated this year’s Seth MacFarlane-hosted Academy Awards, about 40 million viewers lapped it up, making it the most-watched entertainment program on TV in nearly three years.
Even more important to ABC: That Oscarcast scored a nearly three-year record among viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, who are the currency of TV ad sales. In particular, the show jumped 34 percent year-to-year among 18- to 34-year-old men, who are the elusive unicorns of the ad world.
The academy had been stabbing about for several years, trying to figure out how to lure young viewers back to the trophy show. That led to the disastrous 2011 ceremony in which Anne Hathaway co-hosted the show with James “Phone It In” Franco, which wound up doing worse with viewers their age than the ceremony that had oldsters Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin the previous year.
‘Race’s’ Vietnam apology
Every year, the Emmy for best reality competition series is “Amazing Race’s” to lose. Now, the show might have just lost the trophy for this season.
Sunday’s episode opened with an apology for the previous week’s segment, which occurred in Vietnam and was filmed at the site of an American B-52 that was shot down during the Vietnam War.
The twisted metal of the downed plane was treated like any other prop: to hold up a bright sign indicating to contestants that the next phase of their hurry-up-and-wait travel adventure had begun.
“Part of last Sunday’s episode, filmed in Vietnam, [was] insensitive to a group that is very important to us — our nation’s veterans,” show host Phil Keoghan was heard reading from a printed message on-screen, to kick off Sunday’s broadcast.
“We want to apologize to veterans — particularly those who served in Vietnam — as well as to their families and any viewers who were offended by the broadcast. All of us here have the most profound respect for the men and women who fight for our country.”
That opening came in response to a protest of the episode, which got good play on Fox News Channel.
Emanuel vs. ‘Rock Center’
A Hollywood uber-agent is now defined as the kind of guy who would fire off an angry letter to a network over its televised love letter to him and his two brothers — in which they were called “the most prominent three brothers from any one family in public life in America.”
The “Rock Center” interview, conducted by Brian Williams, was a plug for eldest brother Ezekiel Emanuel’s new book, “Brothers Emanuel: A Memoir of an American Family.”
He’s one of three siblings profiled in the book. Youngest brother Ari — the Hollywood agent who fired off the angry letter — was the inspiration for Jeremy Piven’s uber-agent character Ari in HBO’s “Entourage.” The third brother is Rahm, current mayor of Chicago, former Obama White House chief of staff.
Maybe Ari’s annoyed that Williams called Ezekiel “maybe the most blindingly smart” of the three — an Amherst-, Oxford- and Harvard-educated doctor who lectures on bioethics.
Ari reportedly was taken by surprise by some of Williams’s questions — none of which could possibly have made the interview that viewers saw Friday, since every question is exactly what you’d expect, and none of them was tough.
The New York Post cited an unnamed source who accused Williams of behaving “like it was for ‘Meet the Press,’ ” instead of a slap on the back to the guy who represents Justin Timberlake (a.k.a. the real star of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which is now doing bigger ratings than NBC’s prime time).
Silly Brian Williams!
Especially irksome to Ari, the unnamed source said, was the fact that the brothers had picked NBC and Williams over many other journalists who’d also wanted the interview. That’s classic Hollywood-agent stuff.
Ari’s Los Angeles talent agency has confirmed that the letter was sent. NBC, meanwhile, confined its comments about the letter to a statement saying: “We hope viewers saw the interview as a lively conversation with three famously colorful brothers who embody a great American story of success.”
Williams did note that an interview with the three men is “not for the faint of heart.”
And Ari is seen getting defensive during the interview, when Williams asks him about his “scorched earth” reputation in Hollywood and what, if anything he would like to have done differently in his life.
“I would have gotten into therapy a lot earlier and dealt with stuff,” Ari began, then changed course and insisted: “You know something: I’m actually really comfortable — I’ve done a lot of work on myself, and I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time.”
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, visit washingtonpost.com/tvcolumn.