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Oscars 2019: Yep, There’s a ‘Lack of Clarity,’ and ABC Thinks That’s a Good Thing

TCA: ABC president Karey Burke still doesn't know what categories will be excluded from this year's live broadcast, to help keep the show under three hours.

An Oscar statue is places inside the ballroom at the 89th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills, Calif. When the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences announced changes to next year's Oscars broadcast, including the controversial creation of a "popular film" category, it prompted a host of questions about what this means for the world's biggest awards showOscars Popularity Contest, Beverly Hills, USA - 6 Feb 2017

Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. That’s the take of ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke on the swirling discussions that surround this year’s Oscars telecast. At the Television Critics Association press tour Tuesday, she said the ongoing debates initially worried her when she took over ABC in November 2018, following the departure of Channing Dungey. But not anymore.

“I ironically have found that the lack of clarity around the Oscars has kept it in the conversation, and it’s been really compelling,” she said. “People really care. I think it’s fascinating… to me that shows evidence of how relevant the Oscars still are.”

Controversy surrounding the 2019 Academy Awards ceremony began last summer with the announcement that not all categories would be broadcast that night. Questions about what the show would be like continued to build after Kevin Hart was briefly hired to host, before he stepped down. The Oscars now will go host-less for the first time in decades, a decision Burke said was made by the producers.

In addition, the Academy’s promise that this year’s show would be three hours long has meant that certain categories will be given out during commercial breaks and edited into the telecast, but as of Tuesday morning Burke said she did not know which those would include.

She was, however, excited that three of this year’s Best Picture nominees (“Black Panther,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “A Star Is Born”) grossed over $200 million. And while she wasn’t able to confirm who would perform each of the five nominated songs during the show, she did confirm that all five would be featured.

“I’m wildly excited about the song category,” she said. “We have a phenomenal music show, if we just want to put that on.”

Burke said that she will hear the full plan for the show from producers later this week, including the specific plans for the opening, which she promised will be “exciting.”

“We are not going to go straight into people thanking their agents,” she said.

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