Oscars Want Nominees to Stand on Stage

Oscar nominees (search) might not stand for a plan proposed for this year's telecast that would have them standing on stage in groups of five to hear which one of them is the winner.

The proposal was one of a handful of changes announced this week by the longtime producer of the annual Academy Awards (search) show, Gil Cates (search), in an effort to streamline a telecast that is famous for being unwieldy and overly long.

The changes call for certain groups of nominees to appear on stage together when the winner in their group is announced; other groups to sit together in the audience and receive their Oscar statuettes while seated; and others to receive their Oscars in the traditional way, by going up on stage if they are announced as winners.

The proposed changes have received the blessings of both ABC, the network airing the 77th Academy Awards Feb. 27, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (search), which bestows the awards, according to spokespeople for the network and the Academy.

But the requirement to stand on stage might not sit well with some of the nominees, who are nervous enough just sitting in the audience.

"A lot of these people are serious artists," said New York public relations guru Dan Klores, who reps a number of top entertainment stars. "It's not 'Queen for a Day.' It's not 'The Gong Show.' That's what they're making it into. Agents and managers should be dismayed over this.

"It's bad enough when they're sitting there and they have to pretend that they're happy if they don't win," Klores said. "Now they'll be on stage."

Cates, who is producing his 12th Oscarcast this year, announced the format changes Monday before an audience of 113 Oscar nominees at the 24th annual pre-Oscar luncheon held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.

But Cates did not specify which nominees would receive their awards on stage, in the audience, or in the customary manner, although it is believed that nominees in categories with the most star power — Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Picture and others — would not likely be required to stand together on stage.

Tuesday, a spokesman for Cates said he could not reveal which categories of nominees would be required to stand in a group on stage. He said that information is being kept under wraps until the Oscar show, which is being hosted by Chris Rock (search) for the first time.