Thank the Creator for TiVo: Just before I started live-blogging this year's Oscarcast, I mentioned to my editor that while this year's Oscars will probably have its largest international audience in history (owing to the worldly mix of best picture films), we will probably see decidedly lower ratings here, in what I affectionately call 'Merica, that mass of reddish-hued states that separate the cultural elite of L.A. from the cultural elite of New York.
Then I just heard KABC's Marc Brown say this stunner: Based on a nationwide poll, only a pathetic 9 (nine) percent of Americans saw all five movies nominated for Best Picture. And only 31 (thirty-one!) percent of Americans saw any of the the Best Picture nominees at all.
I mean, don't get me wrong: I think "Letters from Iwo Jima" is the best movie I've seen in years; you'd have to go back to the Oscars of 2004 and "City of God" to find as compelling a film. But when the front-runner for Best Foreign Film ("Pan's Labyrinth") has out-grossed a Best Picture nominee like "Iwo Jima" by more than double, it doesn't bode well for the Oscar's Nielsen ratings. Even nominated "Iwo Jima" director Clint Eastwood looked like he was on total auto-pilot, absently responding to a question by ABC's George Pennacchio about whether award shows get tiring by saying, "We got 'Flags,' we got everything going." When his wife Dina pointed out to him, "That's nonsensical." Eastwood struggled on, "I'm just here... you know, I get some rubber chicken or something," walking away in mid-sentence. We wouldn't be surprised if viewers have the same reaction.
So fair warning: If this year's Oscars deliver low numbers domestically, don't blame Ellen DeGeneres.