According to reports, Oscar's Executive Producers Bill Mechanic and Adam "Bringing Down The House" Shankman have decided to cut performances of the five nominated Original Songs. Quick, can you name them? This is just one of a pair of innovations/suggestions being put out there by the duo in an effort to rein in the traditionally overlong 4-hour telecast, which at last count has doubled up on both the number of hosts and the Best Picture nominees.

Instead of the usual performances that some believe extend the show's running time, the songs will now be played over footage of each of the films - supposedly to provide context to the song's connection to the story. In theory, not an awful idea. The whole point of the category is to honor lyrics that typify what their films are about - and I would have loved to have seen this concept put to work to justify "How Do I Live" from Con Air. But as show producers, are Mechanic and Shankman eliminating an element that viewers truly look forward to? After all, as Nine and The Princess and the Frog have songs that are directly tied into telling a part of their story, they may as well just show the musical numbers right from the films, right? Have they denied us the opportunity to see Marion Cotillard recreate her strip number while singing "Take It All?"


For every Ann Reinking butchering "Against All Odds" we get a Glen Hansard/Marketa Iglova duet (with full symphony) on "Falling Slowly." Did the producers feel that T-Bone Burnett and Randy Newman (with a pair of numbers) were not big enough draws and that the audience would tune out or make a snack run? Or does this provide more room for Hairspray Shankman to crank up the dance numbers rumored to be planned? Cause that is what the Oscars have been missing - more dance.

Also getting the double-down treatment this year will be the speeches. In the past the organizers have offered tip sheets on getting those thank yous down to the bare essentials. And if you can't do it in 45 seconds, we cue the band. Provided, of course, you are just a writer or a tech category winner we don't recognize and not a big movie star. Mr. Mechanic doesn't expect the winners to give two speeches, at least not live on stage on what he believes is "the single most-hated thing on the show." No, just one will be for the global telecast where Shankman wants the winners to "share (their) passion on what the Oscar means to (them)." Yes, because that is what the economically-challenged viewers want to hear - a big "me me me" speech by the Hollywood elite in place of thanking those that helped them achieve their award.

Don't we want to hear Jeff Bridges be his usual humble and gracious self, thanking Scott Cooper and Robert Duvall for getting Crazy Heart made? Since the film's song isn't going to be performed anymore he could throw an additional shout-out to Burnett and Ryan Bingham. Why force him to steer his speech in a direction to discuss how underappreciated he's been as an actor and how this little golden boy validates an entire career, not to mention force viewers to head towards the internet to see the deemed less important secondary speeches that will be posted afterwards? Hell no, we want to hear Jeff honor his father, Lloyd, and all the people on his journey to the podium.

Ten Best Picture nominees. Two hosts. Two speeches. Maybe Shankman and Mechanic can get the telecast down to the three-hour length that the Golden Globes seem to miraculously pull off on schedule each year. When we get to our third video montage tribute on the history of old-age makeup before giving out the tenth award of the evening, I have a feeling we'll all be thinking that the Oscars have, once again, made the wrong cuts.