Red Letter Saturday #10: “The Academy Awards”
On this day, May 16, 1929, the first Academy Awards presentation was held at a private dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with an audience of about 270 people. The post-awards party was held at the Mayfair Hotel. The cost of guest tickets for that night’s ceremony was $5 (the equivalent of $69 as of 2015). On that evening, fifteen statuettes were awarded which honored artists, directors and other personalities of the film-making industry of the time for their works during the 1927–28 period. The entire ceremony ran for a total of fifteen minutes. The first Best Actor awarded was Emil Jannings, for his performances in “The Last Command“ and “The Way of All Flesh.” Because he had to return to Europe earlier than the ceremony, the Academy agreed to give him the prize earlier, and this made him the first Academy Award winner in history. The Oscar stauette which is given to the award winners is made of gold-plated britannium on a black metal base, is 13.5 inches tall, weighs 8.5 pounds, and depicts a knight rendered in Art Deco style holding a crusader’s sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes. The five spokes represent the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.
So I wonder . . . how many of you, dear readers, watch the annual Academy Awards as they’re televised every year? I know that there are so many of us out there who do, so don’t be afraid to admit it, because you are just one of millions of people who do. As a matter of fact, in the year 2014, the viewing audience of the Oscars hit a 10-year high of 43.74 million viewers! But this year (2015), according to data collected, the 87th Academy Awards drew in only 36.6 million total viewers, the lowest total since 2009. But of course, there could be any number of reasons for the low numbers. Was it because of who or which movies were on the list of nominees? Was it because of what was playing on television opposite the Oscars that night? Or was it because the host (Neil Patrick Harris for 2015) didn’t quite fit the bill?
And what about watching the Red Carpet event that is televised before the actual Oscars ceremony itself? This year, ABC’s Oscars Red Carpet Live topped out at 24.3 million viewers in its final half hour of coverage leading into the ceremony. I don’t know about you, but watching the celebrities on the red carpet can be even more entertaining than the Academy Awards Ceremony itself. I mean – have you seen some of those dresses? Some of them are quite chic and others border on the outrageous, am I right? And then there are the sparkling jewels and the newest hairstyles and all the beautiful people to see and listen to as they’re being interviewed.
Nowadays many home viewers even have their own Oscar parties, complete with invitations, black-tie attire, catered food, and drinks to make it a night to remember. But I’d prefer to gather with a close circle of friends and keep tabs of my favorites with a score sheet and a pencil.
Whatever your preferences may be, whether it’s the Academy Awards Ceremony itself or the Red Carpet event, whether it’s an Oscars viewing gala or just watching at home with friends or maybe with just your own family, you can rest assured that even though those viewing numbers that I mentioned a few paragraphs before this may have been low in 2015, this will not be a good enough reason for the Academy to discontinue giving out the Oscars any time soon.
And the next time you hear those famous words: “And the Oscar goes to . . . ,” who knows? Maybe, just maybe, it could be someone you know!
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Our minds are big enough to contemplate the cosmos but small enough to care about who wins an Oscar.” – Dean Cavanagh
This post is presented as part of my special weekly feature, Red-Letter Saturday. If you’d like to to know more information about Red-Letter Saturday, please click here: