SCREAM AWARDS, airing 10 p.m., TUESDAY, OCT. 27 on SPIKE TV
I remember sitting at the MTV Movie Awards a couple of years ago and wondering when the show had gotten so sour. It was the year that host Sarah Silverman ridiculed Paris Hilton with raunchy glee and a boozy Jack Nicholson barely made it to the stage. Some of it was funny, sure, but coupled with the relentless, scripted promotion of upcoming films, the sneering personality of the show made for a completely joyless affair. After years of attending the event, I left that night thinking, “Where did all the fun go?“
The answer is the Scream Awards. The upstart show may have an ungainly (and somewhat misleading) name, but it also has the of-the-moment energy that once was a hallmark of the MTV Video Music Awards and a sense of wonder that has been missing from the MTV Movie Awards.
The 2009 Scream Awards air this Tuesday night and I don’t know if the broadcast version will (or even could) have the same frenetic charm of the taping last weekend at the Greek Theatre, but I hope that it does well. This is a franchise that I’m rooting for, quite honestly, as a fan of sci-fi, comics, fantasy and all the other entertainments that veer toward the fantastic. The Scream Awards may sound like a horror gala, but it’s more like Comic-Con International — it’s a big, noisy tent for any and all of the contemporary Hollywood enterprises that require a special-effects budget, but it also has enough sense of history to hand an on-air award to Stan Lee.
Last year, the Scream Awards earned everyone’s attention by getting George Lucas and Tim Burton in the house. This year they could have gone for a mainstream, play-it-safe approach to the program, but instead they gave stage time to comics writer Geoff Johns (a superstar in comics, to be sure, but not exactly a big draw for mainstream television audiences who think Sinestro and Kilowog sound like the new models from Hyundai) and brought in pirate king Keith Richards instead of, say, the Jonas Brothers dressed like zombies. Co-executive producers Michael Levitt and Casey Patterson aren’t crazy enough to ignore mass appeal — there was a nice big chunk of time devoted to “Twilight,” which will bring a young female viewership to the broadcast, I suspect.
I sat down with Patterson at the control board during part of the show and she was giddy. It was hard to hear her — the crowd was cheering and the music was pumping — and it occurred to me that maybe that’s why they call it the Scream Awards. She told me that one of the reasons the show feels different than other trophy broadcasts is that, unlike most awards franchises, this one does not completely rely on all the scripted one-liners that are force-fed to presenters from a teleprompter. Here’s hoping that trend catches on. We watched the show for a bit and she shook her head slowly. “Can you believe all of this? You were here last year, you know how great it was, but now it’s just getting even better. I feel like people get it now, they know what we’re trying to do and they know who we are.”
— Geoff Boucher
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