Nominees told to prep two speeches for Oscar night

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Academy Award organizers have come up with a novel idea for avoiding those boring Oscar acceptance speeches filled with “thank yous.” Their solution: have the winners give two speeches.

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Contenders for the world’s top film honors including George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges gathered on Monday for the annual Oscar nominees luncheon in Beverly Hills, and as is tradition, the show’s producers offered tips on giving the 45-second acceptance speeches.

Typically, that advice is to keep them short and avoid a long list of “thank yous” to agents, directors, spouses and family. Oscar co-producer Bill Mechanic called those often teary-eyed thanks “the single most-hated thing on the show.”

Instead, he and co-producer Adam Shankman will have winners give two speeches: one onstage telling audiences what winning an Oscar means to them, and a second backstage for a “Thank You Cam” where winners can say “Thanks” to whomever they want.

“Share your passion on what the Oscar means to you” with the audience, Shankman told nominees at the luncheon.

He said the backstage video would be posted on the Web and winners could use them however they liked -- e-mail them to their friends and even post them on their Facebook pages.

Of course, there were no guarantees the nominees would follow directions. So to illustrate their idea, the producers showed a videotape of past winners such as Renee Zellweger talking about what winning meant to them.

Organizers had one more surprise waiting. When Oscars are awarded, the statuettes given onstage do not have a nameplate because nobody knows the winners. After several weeks, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nameplates engraved and fixed to the winners’ statuettes.

This year, Oscar organizers will have the nameplates engraved at the gala Governor’s Ball following the ceremony, so the winners can have their names put on after the show.

Doing so may keep the stars at the dinner longer before heading to one of the many post-Oscar parties in Hollywood.

Even if that fails, Shankman, director of movie musical “Hairspray,” had one more clever idea. He said he and Bullock would be leading salsa lessons on the ballroom dance floor.

Editing by Peter Cooney