Once Again: What’s the Deal With the Pretense That the Academy Awards Are Supposed to Last 3 Hours?


Kelsey McKinney writes today about why Joan Rivers was left out of the “In Memoriam” segment at the Oscars last night:

The sequence, ultimately, only has so much room. Every year dozens of Academy Award nominees die, but there’s only room to memorialize about 30 of them in a show that almost always runs over time already.

Whoa. Hold on. The Academy Awards almost never run over time. They are, quite plainly, expected to last 3½ hours. For one thing, they always last 3½ hours.1 For another, there’s abundant evidence that show directors know exactly how long each bit is going to last. And there’s also the evidence of other awards shows, which demonstrates that directors can hit a scheduled end mark within a minute or two. Every time. So they know perfectly well that the Oscar telecast is going to last 3½ hours.

But for some reason, the publicly acknowledged length of the show is 3 hours. Why? I’ve asked this before. It can’t be too deep a secret since it’s so obviously planned this way and has been for years. But why?

1Actually this year they really did run long, a little over 3 hours and 35 minutes. But that’s unusual.