Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily is reporting that Gabriel, who co-wrote and sang "Down to Earth" in WALL-E, has backed out of the ceremony after the show's producers allotted him only 65 seconds to sing an abbreviated version of the song. Finke says the Oscar-runners have crammed all three tunes into a medley -- easy to do, since two of them are from the same movie, Slumdog Millionaire, and sound a lot alike anyway -- with each one getting somewhere between a minute and a minute and a half. Gabriel said no dice, and wrote a letter to the AMPAS telling them so -- an epistolary sledgehammer, if you will.
"I don't feel that is sufficient time to do the song justice, and I have decided to withdraw from performing," he wrote. "I fully respect and look forward to the producers' right to revamp the show. Even though song writers are small players in the filmmaking process, they are just as committed and work just as hard as the rest of the team, and I regret that this new version of the ceremony is being created in part at their expense."
I love Peter Gabriel and was looking forward to seeing him perform at the Oscars, but I'm on his side here. Sixty-five seconds? And all three songs are shoved together, as if the producers just want to hurry through them and get it over with? I don't blame him for not wanting to bother with it. The medley is surely being utilized to reduce the show's length, but what do you want to bet they still devote three minutes to a boring speech by the AMPAS president? And do you suppose there will still be time for every single one of the 24 category winners to amble up to the podium and tell us the names of their agents, lawyers, and spouses?
On the other hand, it's not like the movies are shown in their entirety during the Oscar telecast, so why should the songs be entitled to full exposure? Just because we're used to it? What do you think? Also, don't you love Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes," even after all these years and hearing it a thousand times? I do.