Even though it breaks a lot of the rules of a TV show -- mainly by being overly long, frequently boring and way too impressed with itself -- that's just what Sunday night's Oscar telecast is.
It's an important TV show, the biggest non-sports event of the TV season, although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sometimes seemed to forget that.
But the decision to double the number of best picture nominees to 10 was the smartest thing Oscar organizers have done in years. The last time there were 10 best picture nominations was 1943 -- the year "Casablanca" won.
The larger field is at least partly designed to widen the potential audience for the show, already guaranteed good numbers because James Cameron's blockbuster "Avatar" is on the best-picture list.
The most-watched Oscars show was a dozen years ago, when 55.2 million people tuned in to watch Cameron's "Titanic" win the headline award.
In a five-picture field, Sandra Bullock's "The Blind Side" never would have made the cut. Frankly, the feel-good story of a rich white family that takes in a homeless black teen who becomes a football star has the feel of a made-for-TV movie. But even though it has no chance of winning, it had a big audience that may want to tune in and root for it.
Last year's audience was more than 36 million people, according to Nielsen Media Research, a long way from the 1998 peak. While nobody expects numbers like that, the combination of a big picture and a bigger field, should easily outdo last year's number.
Sunday's TV schedule: E! Entertainment TV starts its Oscars coverage at 1 p.m. Sunday, with "Live from the Red Carpet" starting at 5. The real stuff is on ABC, with Barbara Walters' last Oscars interview show at 6 on Channel 12, ABC's Red Carpet show at 7 and the actual awardcast beginning at 7:30.
Watch our picks: Movie critic and Milwaukee radio and TV veteran Gino Salomone joins me on the weekly TV version on the OnMedia column, which starts airing today on Time Warner Cable's Wisconsin on Demand Channel 411.
It's a special Oscars edition, and we run down the 10 best picture nominees and both make our picks on which movie should win, and which one will win.
Danny and Ellen and Ryan: Milwaukee's "American Idol" finalist Danny Gokey sounded like he was negotiating with Ellen DeGeneres on Thursday's "American Idol" after singing his single "My Best Days Are Ahead of Me."
Meeting her for the first time last night, he told her during the live show, "I want to come on your show and dance."
"The time-line was bad," she answered.
"Could you work on your bookings after this, please?" joked host Ryan Seacrest.
Gokey comes home this weekend for a Saturday night event at Turner Hall, where he'll perform songs from his new album. The concert starts at 7 and tickets go on sale at 5:30 p.m. The $12 admission includes a copy of his CD.
And, in the last bit of Gokey news, he signed a two-year marketing deal with Wisconsin Vision, the state's biggest independent optical company. He becme known during his "Idol" run last year for his stylish eyeglasses.
On TV: "It was way better than even I could've dreamed of," Brett Favre told Jay Leno Thursday night, talking of his season as a Viking. No, he says he hasn't made a decision about whether it'll be his only season.
- Comedian Marlin Hill, whose "Grandma" character is the sidekick to WJMR-FM (98.3) afternoon voice Earl Stokes, voices an animated Barack Obama on Cartoon Network's "Freaknik: The Musical" at 10:30 p.m. Sunday. The Jammin' 98.3 voice also does his Obama on the third season of "Boondocks," which premieres March 28.
- The real Barack Obama drops by Fox's "America's Most Wanted: Americaq Fights Back" for its 1,000th episode at 8 p.m. Saturday on Channel 6.
- Comedy Central will start airing new episodes of Matt Groening's animated "Futurama" this June. The original voices will be back.
- The CW has ordered a 10th season of "Smallville" for next fall.
- ABC's "20/20" airs the first video of an adult Jaycee Dugard at 8 tonight on Channel 12. Dugard was kidnapped in 1989 and spent 18 years in captivity.
Stephen Colbert reports on Waukesha: A clip from a Channel 4 newscast made it on Wednesday night's "Colbert Report" on Comedy Central as fake pundit Stephen Colbert gave a couple tips of the hat to Starbucks -- including one in Waukesha.
It's the second part of this clip:
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Tip/Wag - American Academy of Pediatrics & Starbucks|
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.