Miley CyrusI don't know what your teenagers normally do on Sunday nights, but on March 7, every tweener between Tucson and Timbuktu is going to be glued to his or her TV set, ignoring everything boring about the annual Oscar telecast while waiting for the appearances of Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood where they will be presenting Academy Awards.

You don't think your kids will tune in? Neither do I, and in their hearts, I don't think the show's producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic think so, either. But they'd invite Bart Simpson if they thought there was a chance in animated hell of his adding a point to the show's TV ratings. Whether the Oscar goes to 'Avatar,' 'The Hurt Locker' or 'Inglourious Basterds,' 2009 will be remembered as The Year of Grasping at Straws on the part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

First, the Academy doubles the size of the Best Picture ballot, an act that can only add to the dullness of the Oscar show, and now they invite actors who still have their wisdom teeth to hand Oscars to people who have actually accomplished something in their careers. Though the Academy has not announced which awards the newcomers will present, you may be sure they won't be for big ones like acting, directing, or best picture. Miley CyrusI don't know what your teenagers normally do on Sunday nights, but on March 7, every tweener between Tucson and Timbuktu is going to be glued to his or her TV set, ignoring everything boring about the annual Oscar telecast while waiting for the appearances of Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, where they will be presenting Academy Awards.

You don't think your kids will tune in? Neither do I, and in their hearts, I don't think the show's producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic think so, either. But they'd invite Bart Simpson if they thought there was a chance in animated hell of his adding a point to the show's TV ratings. Whether the Oscar goes to 'Avatar,' 'The Hurt Locker' or 'Inglourious Basterds,' 2009 will be remembered as The Year of Grasping at Straws on the part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

First, the Academy doubles the size of the Best Picture ballot, an act that can only add to the dullness of the Oscar show, and now they invite actors who still have their wisdom teeth to hand Oscars to people who have actually accomplished something in their careers. Though the Academy has not announced which awards the newcomers will present, you may be sure they won't be for big ones like acting, directing, or best picture.

Past producers have done some weird things. In 1996, NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar presented an Oscar for the Best Film Short (get it?). In 1997, the perennially rumpled Courtney Love gave out the award for Best Makeup. And in 1984, Cheech and Chong -- the Abbott & Costello of the Weed Generation -- opened the envelope for Best Visual (Hallucinatory?) Effects. But inviting the stars of 'Hannah Montana: The Movie,' 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' and 'High School Musical 3: Senior Year' to be presenters is like asking Britney Spears to sing at the White House.

Robert PattinsonYou can't blame the young'ns for taking the freebie photo op. Even though last year's telecast -- which had fellow newbies Amanda Seyfried and Robert Pattinson as presenters -- was the second lowest-rated ceremony ever(!) for the key 18-24 age group, it still had more than 35 million viewers in the U.S.. No telling how many more in Mali.

If this all sounds like the whining of an Oscar snob, color me guilty. The excesses of the Oscar shows have driven me crazy for decades. But until now, I've counted as excess anything unrelated to an award. I don't like production numbers, clip montages, long emcee monologues (except from Billy Crystal), or cutaway shots of nominee reactions. And don't get me started on red carpet interviews (though I will gladly sign any petition you may have to ban Joan Rivers from the vicinity of the Kodak Theatre on the night of the awards).

It is, to me, the ultimate irony that an event that was created to celebrate motion pictures has become hostage to TV ratings ... a willing hostage, at that. The Academy Awards has been a public event since the inaugural brunch at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on May 16, 1929. Then, it was a members-only affair, with one presenter (Douglas Fairbanks) and the results relayed to fans via radio, as they were for the next 24 years. In 1953, with Hollywood facing extinction from the popularity of television, the Academy naturally made a deal to have the awards televised.

Once you're in bed with the Devil, he can pretty much have his way with you, and for the last 57 years, it's been all the Academy could do to keep awards in the show's lineup. The number of awards has varied dramatically (there were 12 that first year, and there are 24 now), but if ABC had its way, there would probably be no more than 10 -- four for acting, one each for director, picture, animated feature, and original song and ( if you must include writers, who aren't even allowed on most movie sets) a couple more for original and adapted screenplays.

Kristen StewartThrow in a couple music videos, a montage of great cleavage shots through Hollywood history, have Kristen Stewart kiss Miley Cyrus, and you'd have two hours of can't-miss, primetime TV that you couldn't tear your kids away from. Instead, the show will go on for three-plus hours -- which is a long time in any time zone -- and will essentially disappoint everyone.

It will disappoint viewers drawn to the show by the inclusion of Miley et al.; the kids may look fabulous, but they'll only be on the stage long enough to read canned comments from the Teleprompter and open their envelopes. It will disappoint fans of the movies filling out the expanded Best Picture field, because they're not going to win much. And it will disappoint me, because after biting my elitist tongue over the changes made and the Mouseketeers added as presenters, the show will go on long past my EST bedtime.

If it weren't for the invention of the digital video recorder, which makes the show's excesses and the TV commercials absolutely fly by in the morning, I probably wouldn't watch the "new, improved" Oscars at all.

CATEGORIES Hot Topic, Oscars