It's time for another Academy Awards show. Oh, the glamour! The star power! The spectacle! ... The boredom.
Yes, despite the breathless buildup we give to the Oscars each year, the show itself is usually a snoozer. In fact, things have gotten so bad that every critic from here to Facebook has a plan to make Hollywood's overbloated gala more audience-friendly.
But, really, it shouldn't be that complicated. All Oscar has to do is drop its holier-than-thou attitude and look to other award shows for some guidance. Here are some lessons it could learn:
DON'T SUCK UP TO THE STARS: Thin-skinned celebrities can breathe a sigh of relief. Rookie Oscar hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway aren't likely to drop the kind of verbal bombs that Ricky Gervais did during his incendiary Golden Globes gig.
But whether you think Gervais crossed the line or not, at least he had the right idea. It's time to stop treating Hollywood's major players as if they were superior life forms. A little irreverence is a good thing. All the better to lighten the mood and tear down some walls.
The hosts (and producers) should keep in mind that they're doing the show for the viewers at home, not the over-celebrated, over-protected people in the room.
MAKE A GRAND ENTRANCE: We have fond memories of Jimmy Fallon's "Glee"-ful take on Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" that opened the most recent Emmy telecast. It was fun, funny and full of zest.
But if that's a little too old-school, Franco and Hathaway could always make like Lady Gaga at the Grammys and emerge from a giant egg in an over-the-top tribute to "Black Swan."
LET TV PEOPLE WRITE THE ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES: Ever notice that, at award shows where TV and movie actors merge, it's the unpretentious TV stars who generally deliver the better speeches?
During this year's Globes, for example, Jane Lynch of "Glee" was oh so snarky ("I am nothing if not falsely humble ..."), while her co-star, Chris Colfer, used his big moment to speak out against schoolyard bullying. Then there was Betty White at the SAGs referring to herself as an "old broad" and slyly running her hand over the naked statuette while cooing, "ooh."
Oscar winners should take heed. It's far better to let your hair down and speak from the heart than to bore us to death by reciting a laundry list of thank-yous.
SERVE BOOZE: Thanks to its dinner-party approach, the Golden Globes has a fun, hang-loose vibe.
Likewise, the stodgy Oscars should seriously consider allowing Champagne to flow throughout the theater. After all, the stars have their own drivers.
MORE AUDIENCE REACTION SHOTS: Again, this one comes courtesy of the Golden Globes, which constantly has its cameras trained on the stars in attendance. Those quick scenes of Angelina reapplying her lip gloss or draping herself all over Brad are, indeed, golden.
GIVE A NOD TO TEAMWORK: We'll never accuse the SAG Awards of being great TV, but we do appreciate its unique category that honors the outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture (won by "The King's Speech" this year). It acknowledges the fact that acting is a collaborative effort, that one performance feeds off another.
Why can't the Oscars adopt this feel-good approach? Perhaps it could replace a category no one cares about -- like Documentary Short or Sound Mixing.
KEEP THINGS MOVING: Speaking of categories no one cares about, the Oscars should do as the Grammys do and hand out some awards off-camera.
That way, the show keeps on rolling and we don't have to hear the costume designer on "Alice in Wonderland" explain how she made Helena Bonham Carter look so delightfully hideous.
WHEN IN DOUBT, ENLIST THE MUPPETS: The Grammys proved that you just can't go wrong with a vibrant infusion of color and fuzz. When the Muppets got their freak on with CeeLo Green and Gwyneth Paltrow for the song "Forget You," they brought the house down.
We say the Muppets will always be cool and should be allowed to perform at least one Oscars number. Paltrow is set to sing again on Sunday. How about a rousing duet with Fozzie Bear?
END ON TIME: Somehow, the Golden Globes, Grammys, Emmys and other award shows all manage to get their business done in about three hours or so. But the self-indulgent gasbags who run the Oscars refuse to rein themselves in.
The show consistently goes into overtime, running for as long as four hours, 26 minutes (in 2002) and causing butts to go numb across America. There is simply no excuse for this. When the three-hour mark hits, drop the curtain and say "Good night Oscar."