The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided to keep the names of some celebrity presenters at the Oscars secret, in hopes of increasing viewership this season, which reached an all-time low of 32 million last year. This means the secret celebrities could choose not to walk the red carpet, which would also mean Jay Manuel can’t draw all over them on E!, à la Perez Hilton, for the world’s enjoyment. This also means the designers who make their gowns miss out on hours of preshow publicity. Kevan Hall lamented to WWD, “The number-one source [of publicity for a gown] is people hearing about it going down the red carpet when they say your name,” he said. “Afterward, they will have pictures of the presenter when they are onstage. You will still get press that way. You might not be getting it live on the red carpet. That [press afterward] is still a big plus.” We agree — the onstage photo op is decidedly less fabulous than the red-carpet photo op, except in the case of unfortunately hued gowns in the fuchsia or red-orange families.
However, Zac Posen called the secret-celebrity operation a “brilliant idea.” A spokesman for Michael Kors didn’t sound too worried, either, noting the copious opportunities for backstage photo ops. However, Hall also noted that if they withhold the names, he can’t reach out to celebrities before the show about wearing his dresses, and must wait for them (or their stylists) to come to him.
We feel uneasy about this new ratings strategy. Because what if the first shot we get of one of the presenters is them sitting in their seat, and we can only see the top third (or less) of their dress and must wait an hour (or more) for a full-length shot? And what if, despite all efforts, the ceremony is as boring in as years past, and we don’t make it through that hour and we pass out without knowing what Freida Pinto wore? No wonder Hall is stressed.