Of all the prestigious awards that the entertainment industry gives to itself in humble recognition of its own sheer fabulousness... there is none so prestigious as the Oscars.
That's why an estimated 40 billion people will tune in this year to watch the Academy Awards show, which begins at 5 p.m. (Pacific) on March 24, with the climactic announcement of Best Picture scheduled to be announced at 8:30 p.m. (Pacific) on March 28.
Yes, it will be 99 hours of nonstop entertainment, ''Hollywood-style,'' broken down as follows:
• Movie stars reading spontaneous banter from teleprompters: 6 hours, 37 minutes.
• Shots of the always fascinating Jack Nicholson sitting in the audience: 4 hours, 19 minutes.
• Jokes involving Enron: 1 hour.
• Memorable, unscripted moments: 3 minutes.
• People you never heard of thanking other people you never heard of: 87 hours.
Of course, this is the ''best case'' scenario; usually the show runs long.