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A portion of this story originally appeared in the May 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.
The MTV Movie Awards is classing up its act.
For the venerable celebration of Hollywood’s 21st edition in June, multiple awards categories have been dropped, a few others added, and the network has installed an “academy” of actors, producers, agents and other industry insiders to vote on nominees, including a “breakthrough performance” award voted on by directors.
Although the network won’t reveal voter names, the panel strategy is similar to the one used for the annual MTV Video Music Awards and is designed to broaden the nominees and winners and lend some credibility to an event that has been criticized as merely a venue for Hollywood to promote its summer movies. Fan voting begins May 1 at MovieAwards.MTV.com. As usual, viewer voting for the night’s top award — movie of the year — continues through the live show June 3 from the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City.
“We want to make sure some of the unexpected, smaller, quirkier films have a chance,” says MTV president Stephen Friedman, who adds that the Movie Awards is still a hit with its core viewers (last year’s show pulled in 4.5 million viewers, registering its largest teen audience since 2004). “But it wasn’t growing the way we want it to.”
While the now-iconic best kiss and best fight awards aren’t going anywhere, new categories this year are designed to deepen the movie-music connection. For instance, the best music award will go to the song that is most effectively used in a scene. It’s meant to honor all of those unsung music supervisors. Others will celebrate acting but not merely popularity, like best on-screen transformation, which will be handed out to the actor who disappears into a role (think Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady or Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn). Of course, others — like best onscreen dirtbag — are just meant to be fun.
Five categories are being scrapped, including best scared-as-shit performance and biggest badass star.
Jesse Ignjatovic, veteran producer of last year’s VMAs — which notched a franchise best with more than 12 million viewers — will helm this year’s Movie Awards for the first time, taking over from Mark Burnett. MTV also will up the musical performances with headliner fun. performing their hit “We Are Young” over a video montage of party films from Animal House to Old School to this year’s Project X.
“It’s not just about bringing more music to the show, it’s about integrating music and movies,” says Ignjatovic. “My twin passions are movies and music. To me, going to a movie is much like going to a rock concert; it’s a communal, shared experience. And I thought I could bring what I do in the music space to the movie space.”
That includes big production numbers and a 58-by-32-foot video screen ringed by lasers to create an amphitheater effect. “It focuses the whole proceedings of the night around film,” he says.
But the revamped Movie Awards will not sacrifice the satirical bent and mischievous pranks for which it has become known (remember Sacha Baron Cohen lowering his naked rear onto Eminem in 2009?). “Full-frontal male nudity was big this year,” Ignjatovic says, citing multiple 2011 films including The Hangover Part II and Michael Fassbender’s Shame. “I think we need to embrace it as a moment.”
New Categories for 2012
Best Onscreen Transformation
Best Gut-Wrenching Performance
Best Onscreen Dirt Bag
Retired Categories from 2011
Best Scared-as-Shit Performance
Best Jaw Dropping Moment
Biggest Badass Star
Best Line From a Movie
E-mail: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com; Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie
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