Sandra Bullock at Oscars luncheonMore than 100 of this year's Oscar nominees attended the annual nominees luncheon in Hollywood on Monday, and in the annual lecture about acceptance speeches that is served with the rubber chicken, they learned the winners among them will be test dummies for a new Oscars acceptance speech rule.

They were told to have two speeches prepared in case they win: one to be short and sweet, telling the live audience in 45 seconds or less what the Oscar means to them; and a second, as long as necessary, in front of a "Thank You Cam" backstage, where they can thank everyone from their agent to the maid's dog.

Bill Mechanic, co-producer of the Oscars, told the nominees that the long thank yous are 'the single-most hated thing about the show." Sandra Bullock at Oscars luncheonMore than 100 of this year's Oscar nominees attended the annual nominees luncheon in Hollywood on Monday, and in the annual lecture about acceptance speeches that is served with the rubber chicken, they learned the winners among them will be test dummies for a new Oscars acceptance speech rule.

They were told to have two speeches prepared in case they win: one to be short and sweet, telling the live audience in 45 seconds or less what the Oscar means to them, and a second, as long as necessary, to be delivered in front of a "Thank You Cam" backstage, where they can thank everyone from their agent to the maid's dog.

Bill Mechanic, co-producer of the Oscars, told the nominees that the long thank yous are "the single-most hated thing about the show."

That's only partially true. Television viewers hate long thank-you speeches from people they've never heard of, for awards they don't care about. They don't mind long speeches from famous people -- that's why they tune in! When Sandra Bullock or Meryl Streep, the only names one need remember for the Best Actress Oscar, go to the podium on March 7, the audience will sit through every childhood anecdote and thank you she wants to mention.

Mechanic and co-producer Adam Shankman understand that, too. They know that the winners of the four acting awards, plus those for Best Director and Best Picture, will say whatever they have to say, thank whomever they have to thank and that neither warnings nor scowls nor flashing lights will stop them.

So, despite the presence of Streep and Bullock and Best Actor nominees Jeff Bridges and George Clooney at Monday's luncheon, the producers were really talking to the nominees for "everything else." You know, screenplays (unless Quentin Tarantino wins), film editing, cinematography, art direction, sound editing and special effects, plus those dreaded buzz killers, short subjects and documentary shorts.

For the past half-century, the job of the Oscar producers has been trying to find a way to give the audience what it wants -- stars, and lots of 'em -- while giving the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences what they want, which is TV time for winners of every award.

It's not the speeches people hate so much as it is the number of speeches given that no one, other than those thanked in them, wants to hear.
CATEGORIES Movies, Oscars