"This year, since no one's names have been announced, they're all free to back out and nobody will know. And some of them have taken that option," he said Thursday. He didn't name names.
Laurence Mark and Bill Condon, who are producing the show for the first time, have promised sweeping changes but have been careful to keep many details under wraps - in particular the identity of presenters, many of whom won't be seen on the red carpet.
Joan Rivers, veteran host of pre-show arrivals telecasts of yore, said that's a wise idea.
"You want to see who are they wearing and what are they wearing," Rivers said. "And, if you're doing that on the red carpet, you don't necessarily have to tune into the show."
Rivers believes the red-carpet coverage has helped erode ratings for the Academy Awards.
"Of course, we took away," she said. "There's no question that these took away. I'm just surprised it took them that long to figure it out."
In past years, celebrity presenters have been a large part of the awards show's pre-publicity campaign - and that gives them incentive to stick to the job no matter what.
"Because when it's announced to the world that they're going to be there, they're not going to back out," Vilanch said.
"But now that nobody knows I'm doing it, and I already got the dress, I'll back out," he joked. "I'll back out, keep the dress and wear it someplace else."
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