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VIEWERS TUNE OUT OSCAR

Despite Julia Roberts' crowd-pleasing victory and a shorter telecast, the 73rd annual Academy Awards was a ratings dud. About 42.9 million viewers watched the Steve Martin-hosted show, making it the least-watched Oscar telecast since 1997 when The English Patient won best picture. Meanwhile, as viewers know, some winners (read: Ms. Bratt) weren't exactly itching for the high-definition TV set that Oscar producer Gil Cates promised to present to the person with the shortest acceptance speech. But according to calculations, it looks as if the boob tube will go to Michael Dudok de Wit, whose speech for best animated short (Father &#038 Daughter) clocked in at 15 seconds. An official announcement from the Academy is expected later this week.

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Despite Julia Roberts' crowd-pleasing victory and a shorter telecast, the 73rd annual Academy Awards was a ratings dud. About 42.9 million viewers watched the Steve Martin-hosted show, making it the least-watched Oscar telecast since 1997 when The English Patient won best picture. Meanwhile, as viewers know, some winners (read: Ms. Bratt) weren't exactly itching for the high-definition TV set that Oscar producer Gil Cates promised to present to the person with the shortest acceptance speech. But according to calculations, it looks as if the boob tube will go to Michael Dudok de Wit, whose speech for best animated short (Father &#038 Daughter) clocked in at 15 seconds. An official announcement from the Academy is expected later this week.