The upcoming Academy Awards show is the 85th, a significant anniversary that in past years might have brought a reunion of past winners, special film clips or some sort of recognition on the Oscar show.
But this year, the number 85 has been quietly retired, and so has the phrase "Academy Awards."
Both disappeared from official AMPAS materials about three weeks ago. "We're rebranding it," Oscar show co-producer Neil Meron told TheWrap on Monday. "We're not calling it 'the 85th annual Academy Awards,' which keeps it mired somewhat in a musty way. It's called 'The Oscars.'"
During TheWrap's interview with Meron and his partner Craig Zadan, Meron said they were under the impression that the new approach would continue in the future.
Academy spokeswoman Teni Melidonian confirmed that the change has happened for the upcoming show, but described it as the kind of typical adjustment in the ad campaign and overall message that takes place every year in consultation with the show's producers and the network, ABC.
"It is right for this show, but we could easily go back to using 'Academy Awards' next year," she said.
The majority of the show's posters and advertising materials focus on host Seth MacFarlane and the phrase "The Oscars," with no mention of how long the Academy has been hosting this shindig and no use of the phrase "Academy Awards."
And Academy press releases dealing with the upcoming show, which used to routinely mention the number, stopped doing so around the beginning of February. The last such AMPAS release appears to have come on Jan. 29; since then, every release has found ways to avoid the phrase "85th Academy Awards."
When initial voting began, for example, the Academy's Dec. 14 release began, "Nominations voting for the 85th Academy Awards will open at 8 a.m. PT, Monday, December 17 … "
But when final voting began seven weeks later, its release said this: "Final voting for the Oscars will officially open on Friday, Feb. 8th at 8 a.m. … "
The phrase "The 85th Academy Awards," which used to begin the last paragraph of most Oscar-related press releases from the Academy, has been replaced with "Oscars for outstanding film achievements of 2012."
It's hard to say that the Academy is completely turning its back on its history, given that this year's show includes a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the James Bond movies and a tribute to movie musicals of the past decade. But it is consciously (if quietly) looking not to use a big round number when trying to woo viewers closer to the age of Quvenzhane Wallis (9) than Emmanuelle Riva (85), and trying to get less formal by making the show's nickname its official name.
"It'll be like the Grammys," said Meron. "The Grammys don't get a number, and neither will the Oscars."
He's not exactly right: The top of the Recording Academy's Grammy page is headed, "The 55th Grammys," and the number appears in the first sentence of most NARAS press releases.
The Oscar.com page, on the other hand, just says "The Oscars."
For this year, at least.