Expect a faster, funnier Oscar telecast this year designed to appeal to younger viewers and, producers hope, bring in higher ratings on March 7.
Out this year: performances of the Oscar-nominated songs; in this year: at least one big dance number.
It appears first-time Oscar telecast producers Bill Mechanic, producer of the animated feature nominee "Coraline," and Adam Shankman, director of the movie "Hairspray," are doing everything they can to liven up a show that many think has become less interesting in recent years than the red carpet arrivals preceding it.
"The producers are hyper sensitive to keep the audience's interest from start to finish," Entertainment Weekly columnist Dave Karger told ABCNews.com
That means eliminating anything that threatens to drag down the show. This year that includes doing away with the long-held tradition of having artists perform their Oscar-nominated songs. Instead the songs will be played while showing clips from each film.
"It's always been an awkward part of the show," Gregg Kilday, senior film editor at The Hollywood Reporter, told ABCNews.com. "Individual songs have worked, but songs no one has ever heard of have always been a challenge."
Karger said the best song performances have been slowly disappearing from the broadcast over the last few years. Last year, artists were given only 90 seconds to perform snippets of their songs, which led Peter Gabriel to turn down the invitation. This year, all five songs are ballads -- two by Randy Newman for "The Princess and the Frog" -- and relatively unknown.
"It had the potential to include some deadly performances," Karger said.
One thing you can expect to see from years past is the big dance production number. Shankman, a former choreographer who once danced on the Oscar stage and currently is a judge on "So You Think You Can Dance," is planning to use some of the dancers who have appeared on the television show.
Shankman queried his Twitter followers to see what they thought of the casting: "would u watch the oscars with more excitement if I cast some sytycd dancers if there are musical #s." The response was overwhelmingly positive.
Oscar 2010 Presenters
Shankman also sought advice from his followers about who should appear as presenters on the show. "Curious: what and who do u wanna see on the oscars? What would make u watch?" he Tweeted, getting tons of responses suggesting cast members from "New Moon," "Glee" and "High School Musical."
Don't be surprised if one of the presenters is Taylor Lautner from the "Twilight" series. His castmate Robert Pattinson presented at the Oscars last year.
The Hollywood Reporter's Kilday said three past winners in the acting categories, Penelope Cruz, Kate Winslet and Sean Penn, will be back to present this year. If producers follow the previous years' tradition of having winners of the opposite sex hand out the trophy to the current winner in the similar category then they'll have to find a replacement for Heath Ledger, who was awarded the best supporting actor Oscar posthumously.
Either way, producers are hoping to boost viewership by including a mix of young, popular stars and established stars from academy-nominated films.
"I think if 'Twilight' fans find out that one or more of the stars are going to present, they'll tune in," Karger said.
Expanding the best picture category to 10 nominees, which includes some popular, high-grossing films, could also bring in new viewers, particularly "Avatar" fans," Karger added.
"I think the producers have a chance of scoring a decent rating," he said.
With 10, instead of the usual five best picture films to introduce, the producers will have to find ways to streamline the show to accommodate the additional nominees.
"It's fascinating to see to what extent Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman are trying to shave minutes and even seconds off the telecast," Karger said.
For instance, you won't see any presenters walking all the way across the stage to announce the nominees.
"They would rather have a 10-second entrance, rather than 45 seconds," Karger said about the producers. "They are paying attention to even little bits of time."
Speeches Encouraged to Stay Short and Sweet
One thing producers may add this year is a tribute to director John Hughes, instead of just including him in the montage of stars who died in 2009. Mechanic worked with Hughes and Oscar hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin starred in the Hughes films, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and "She's Having a Baby," respectively.
As usual, the producers pleaded with the nominees at the annual Oscar nominees luncheon last week to keep their speeches short. They are bringing back the backstage "thank you cam," which they hope the stars will use for all those long-winded thank-yous to agents, managers and hairdressers. The videos recorded by the academy can then be sent out by the stars or posted online.
The producers also warned that for group winners, only one person will be allowed to speak or else risk having their microphone cut off.
"I think the overall goal is a show that doesn't drag, that feels tight, that feels fun and that feels unpredictable," Entertainment Weekly's Karger said. "That last charge is the hardest, because so much of this year's Oscar race is predictable. But Adam Shankman is a real showman, and I have faith that he can put on a good show."