Producers for Sunday"s Oscars ceremony will be hoping that the show does not lose its status as the second most-watched TV event in the US behind the Super Bowl, after a strong showing by the Grammys.
The world"s top film honours are in jeopardy of losing their status if the show can"t lure more than 40 million viewers, which could be difficult.
Producers have brought back popular host Billy Crystal for laughs, but the best solution for a lively TV awards programme, sponsors at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences say, is a group of surprise winners or ones who give genuinely emotional or rousing acceptance speeches.
"Be memorable, and you will be remembered," co-producer Don Mischer told nominees at a recent luncheon.
It is hard to forget 73-year-old Jack Palance doing one-arm push-ups on the Oscar stage after winning best supporting actor for 1991"s "City Slickers," or more recently the heartfelt speech by writers Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of best song winner "Falling Slowly" from 2007 film, "Once."
The Oscars need a few surprises because silent movie romance "The Artist," while critically lauded, has generated only around $30 million (£19 million) at US and Canadian box offices, and the Oscars generally enjoy larger TV audiences when popular hits like "Avatar" are in the hunt for best movie.
The show annually is the second most-watched program on US TV behind professional football"s Super Bowl, but this year"s Grammy Awards, music"s top honours, lured 40 million viewers the night after Whitney Houston"s death and could easily surpass the Oscars.
Oscar producers also hope a return of popular comedian Crystal as host of the programme for the ninth time will lure viewers. He has not been emcee of the show since 2004 when it drew roughly 44 million viewers and box office smash "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" was the big winner.