The bees have been buzzing since long before Chris Rock got his standing ovation - could he save The Oscar telecast from terminal unhipness, and/or ratings hell? The results are in, but they range from mixed to inconclusive: the 77th Annual Academy Awards was watched by 42.1 million viewers, down 3 percent from last year. Still, with award show ratings plummetting all season long, that's not exactly a fatal dropoff. Plus, ratings in the 18-34 demographic were their highest in three years.

According to a piece by Lorne Manly in today's New York Times, AMPAS president Frank Pierson is calling these numbers "a significant triumph". But some Academy members, including former Sony Pictures chairman John Calley, were dissatisified with the format changes employed this year to shake up the often-lumbering show (which clocked in at its briefest time since 1986):

To some it even seemed cruel to award Oscars in the aisles. "To give it to them in an alleyway, or a men's room, or a driveway just diminishes the experience," said Mr. Calley, who said out loud what other members said privately.

Calley also took offense to the jabs Rock made at Jude Law, huffing, "It's fun to make fun, but that was unrelieved." Another target of Rock's opening monologue, Oprah Winfrey, took Rock's strikes in stride:

After the show, Winfrey says she cringed watching Rock. "It was like watching my son, and I kept thinking, 'Don't go there, don't go too far,' but I thought overall he did a great job," she says. (via Zap2it)

categories Cinematical