LOS ANGELES • We have all yawned each year as Oscar winners rush through the names of the people they want to thank during their brief acceptance speeches, hoping no one is forgotten.
Well, things are about to change.
The producers of the annual Academy Awards announced on Monday that this year's winners will be able to hand over a list of the people they wish to thank, and the names will be scrolled at the bottom of the screen.
The change will allow winners to concentrate on saying what is really on their minds during the 45 seconds they are alloted - rather than making sure they do not forget to thank mum, dad and their pet.
The new rule was announced at the annual Oscar nominees luncheon in Beverly Hills, a star-studded affair taking place this year against a backdrop of controversy over diversity in Hollywood and talk of boycotting the Oscars ceremony on Feb 28.
Although the issue was clearly on many people's mind at the luncheon, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs clearly did not want it to cast a shadow over the event.
"This year, we all know there is an elephant in the room. I have asked the elephant to leave," she said to applause. "Today is all about your incredible work on the screen and behind the camera."
And with that, the academy's diversity controversy - which began last month when its actors branch nominated only white performers for the second year in a row, and continued when Isaacs and her fellow governors announced steps to broaden the group's membership and choices - was taken off the table for the afternoon.
Sylvester Stallone, however, appeared willing to grapple with the elephant by both tusks, revealing he had toyed with boycotting this year's Oscars over the issue.
The veteran Rocky actor, 69, was the only nominee for boxing movie Creed although the film stars African-American Michael B. Jordan and was directed and written by Ryan Coogler, who is also black.
He is considered a front runner for the supporting actor Oscar for reprising his role as Rocky Balboa, now a boxing trainer and mentor, in Creed.
"I remember I spoke with Ryan Coogler when this (controversy) happened. I said, 'Ryan how do you want to handle this? Because I really believe you are responsible for me being here,'" he told reporters.
"Michael Jordan, every time I looked in his eyes as an actor, I said, he's making me better. I think he should've been given a lot more respect, a lot more attention.
"(Coogler) goes, 'Sly, just go there, try to represent the film, and we feel you deserve it. Eventually things will change.'"
Stallone was last Oscar- nominated for writing and performing the lead role in his 1976 movie Rocky, which went on to win the best picture Academy Award without the academy honoring his efforts.
Isaacs' message, firmly and briefly delivered, was simply that the Oscar rituals will proceed as planned, no matter the debate about their validity or racial balance.
Most of these nominees are show-business troupers and most have learnt to make the most of their Chantilly cream-covered ride.
"I'm trying to enjoy it, because it is pretty wonderful," said best supporting actress nominee Alicia Vikander, swathed in bright red, as she answered questions in the luncheon's pre-show interview room. She had learnt that lesson, she said, from Eddie Redmayne, her co-star in The Danish Girl, and another of this year's nominees, for best actor. Redmayne was on hand, looking dapper in a sharp grey suit.
By Isaacs' count, about 150 nominees showed up. Matt Damon, nominated for best actor for The Martian, was there, talking up Hollywood executives and Oscar voters during the noontime cocktail hour.
So was Rooney Mara, nominated as best supporting actress for Carol. Ms Dawn Hudson, the academy's chief executive, was seated at a table with Mr Reginald Hudlin and Mr Dave Hill, producers of this year's Oscar show, and a couple of ABC executives.
If they were looking for signs that the Oscars are intact, the nominees luncheon provided plenty.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS,NEW YORK TIMES