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Oscars Producers Say No More Name Dropping

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now it's time for Words You'll Hear. That's where we unpack we'll be hearing more about by parsing some of the words associated with them. But today, we're switching it up. This time, we're going to tell you hopefully won't hear at the Oscars, which are on a week from today. For this we're reprising a story that most people didn't hear because of breaking news. Now, about those rambling speeches that go on and on and on...

(SOUNDBITE OF 2005 ACADEMY AWARDS)

JAMIE FOXX: I got so many people to thank tonight. And first, I'm going to start it out with Taylor Hackford. I want to thank Crusader. I want to thank my agents. I want to thank Rick Kurtzman. I want to thank...

MARTIN: And then there are those awkward moments when the winners are (clears throat) encouraged to wrap things up with a musical hint.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2015 ACADEMY AWARDS)

PAWEL PAWLIKOWSKI: I'd like to thank the U.S. distributor who did a great job for very little money. Oh, wrap up? Good. OK. So quickly to the (unintelligible) - and to my Polish friends who are in front of the TV, the crew - who were in the trenches with us and who are totally drunk now - and you are fantastic.

MARTIN: It's gotten so bad that Jack Black and Will Ferrell even made a routine out of it.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2004 ACADEMY AWARDS)

WILL FERRELL: (Singing) This is it. Your time is through.

JACK BLACK: (Singing) You're boring.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACK: (Singing) You're rambling on, no end in sight.

FERRELL: (Singing) You're boring.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: But this year, producers have vowed, boring no more. They've told this year's nominees no more names.

LEONARD MALTIN: The idea is simple. They said people don't want to see you fumbling with a piece of paper thanking an obligatory list of friends, family and colleagues.

MARTIN: That's veteran film critic Leonard Maltin.

MALTIN: What everybody wants is to know how you feel at that moment. What is in your heart? That's what makes or breaks the Oscar show - spontaneous, genuinely heartfelt moments, not lists of thank you's.

MARTIN: So the show's producers have asked nominees for a list of everybody they would like to thank if they win. If they do make it onto the stage, the names will scroll across the bottom of the screen, leaving them free to use their allotted 45 seconds to say something else. Leonard Maltin acknowledges that all of this may seem heavy-handed, but...

MALTIN: It's their only way of trying to put a lid on a show that can go on for days.

MARTIN: But if the past is any guide, it might be hard to keep that lid on. When Julia Roberts won the Best Actress award for "Erin Brockovich," she warned the orchestra conductor that she might be a while.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2001 ACADEMY AWARDS)

JULIA ROBERTS: And, sir, you're doing a great job, but you're so quick with that stick, so why don't you sit because I may never be here again.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Cuba Gooding Jr. used the wrap-it-up-song as the soundtrack for his list of thank yous after winning for his role in "Jerry Maguire."

(SOUNDBITE OF 1997 ACADEMY AWARDS)

CUBA GOODING JR.: I just want to - oh, here we go, OK - the studio, I love you. And Cameron Crowe and Tom Cruise - I love you, brother. I love you man. Derek (unintelligible).

MARTIN: As for me, I would like to thank NPR for giving me this incredible opportunity, especially my incredible team - Alexi, Jen, Kenya, Liz - I love you. Phil, Dustin, Aggi, Janaya, Denise, Zac - I love you guys. Also, Jasmine, Gerry, Wendy, Quincy, I love you. And also my wonderful family, I love you. I love you all.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.