Oscars 2012: 5 Burning Questions About the Awards Telecast

Bob D'Amico/ABC
Billy Crystal

THR looks at what sharp-eyed insiders should be looking for during the telecast on Sunday, from television ratings to possible cameos from Brett Ratner or Eddie Murphy.

This story first appeared in the March 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Forget about all that nonsense on the red carpet, there's an actual show taking place Feb. 26 inside the theater formerly known as the Kodak. Here's what sharp-eyed insiders should be looking for during the telecast:

1. Can Billy Boost Ratings?

Crystal's most recent hosting turn in 2004 delivered 43.6 million U.S. viewers, a mark the show hasn't hit since. Given general ratings erosion, anything above last year's 37.6 million viewers likely will be considered a hit.

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2. Will Brett or Eddie Make a Cameo?

Crystal's filmed intro is sure to be packed with inside jokes, and the producer and host who pulled out of the show following Ratner's gay slur could redeem themselves if they show up in one of the gags.

3. Will Viola Get Political?

The Help actress has become increasingly vocal about race issues during awards season. If Davis wins best actress, she could use the opportunity to make a political statement to hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide.

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4. Can Cirque Avoid a Spidey Snafu?

The aerialists and acrobats will pull out all the stops, likely flying over the crowd as in Iris, the Cirque show that plays the Kodak Theatre year-round. Here's hoping there are no disasters a la Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.  

5. Bigger Joke: Kodak or The French?

Crystal is known for squeezing laughs from recurring gags (remember Jack Palance?). This year, he could target the Kodak Theatre's namesake for its bankruptcy or, if The Artist starts sweeping, watch out, France.

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