By Anne Thompson and Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood February 17, 2012 at 1:35PM
Muppet fans, it looks like Cirque de Soleil, the Canadian entertainment troupe that specializes in circus-inspired performance art, will be taking a prime slot at this year's Oscars with an original piece. It will be the largest cast the company has ever assembled for one performance. UPDATE: But take heart! As we suspected, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog will present on Oscar night, which is better than nothing. (Yes, we would have liked to see them sing Bret McKenzie's best song nominee "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets.")
Cirque de Soleil is a fixture at the Kodak Theatre right now: the show IRIS, the company's heartfelt and often breathtaking tribute to the world of filmmaking, opened at the Kodak last September and has been struggling for audiences. (The must-see show is not only very expensive but has a nostalgic, period, European feel to it--which may not play for your average Walk of Fame tourist.) Before IRIS, the Kodak was often empty throughout the year, other than the frenzy of Oscar night each February. The theater underwent renovations costing tens of millions of dollars to prepare for the Cirque de Soleil show.
Like IRIS, Cirque's Oscar performance will be scored by Danny Elfman, a four-time Oscar nominee. For a year in which films paying tribute to filmmaking have been so successful with the Academy, it's no surprise that the Oscars would tap a troupe to perform that's currently paying homage to the movies in the very venue where the awards ceremony will take place.
Still, IRIS hasn't been a hit, so there's some needed promotion going on. And the Kodak is in a precarious position right now: the film company that branded the theater is currently in bankruptcy proceedings, and was recently cleared by a court to remove its name from the venue. In addition, the Academy's lease on the building is up in 2013, so next year's show might be the last in the venue. That would leave a space with a prime Hollywood location in need of some love. Could Cirque de Soleill's Oscar performance give IRIS the shot in the arm it needs to sustain itself at the Kodak?
It would be a pity to see new CEO Dawn Hudson drag the Oscars downtown, as she did the Indie Spirtis, disastrously, and the ongoing LA Film Festival. The Oscars belong in Hollywood.