Now that I have staggered my way towards the end of an incredibly busy week, I can take a few deep breaths and briefly pontificate about the 2009 Academy Awards.

I thought Hugh Jackson did a superb job as the host; he was fetching, entertaining and charming.

The production numbers were well-staged and thoroughly enjoyable. Watching the boffo Beyonce-centric number (how long are her gorgeous gams, I wondered…) I thought a time warp took us back to THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE or the ED SULLIVAN SHOW.

It appears that the Academy finally deduced that with Hope and Carson gone and Billy Crystal on hiatus, the stand-up comic-host approach had become beyond stale. At least we did not have to suffer through another Jon Stewart or even worse, David Letterman extravaganza that requires East Coast viewers to reach for the No-Doz.

I also dug the interactive way that the nominees were made part of the program as they appeared to be seated 1.5 centimeters from the center of the stage. Having new and vintage Oscar winners address the current crop of nominees on a personal level was also a nice variation. Observing a darkly tanned , still gorgeous Sophia was a kick, but where were Jack, Warren Beatty and some of the other previous winners who should have been presenters? Were the Lakers playing on Sunday night?

I didn’t care too much one way or the other who won what. I figured SLUM DOG MILLIONAIRE would be this year’s big winner and Kate Winslet would finally take home a trophy. I was glad to see Sean Penn win for Best Actor even if everyone had to endure his brief politico statement.

My only big gripe about the Big Show is what it usually is: the screwed-up tribute segment to those artists who left us during the past year.

Ok: So I guess you give the Academy a pass for not including Phil Carey and Patrick McGoohan (a star of 1996 Best Picture, BRAVEHEART btw) since they passed on after January 1, 2009. But since Pat Hingle was there (d.3 January 2009) that excuse doesn’t really wash clean.

However, there was no viable excuse for the omission of Beverly Garland, Ann Savage and Robert Prosky. Excluding these fine actors from this tribute in favor of Vampira is bizarrely egregious. Few actors have had a screen career like Beverly. She was a mainstay in the Hollywood community for decades (she was the honorary Mayor of North Hollywood, for Christ’s sake!) Ann Savage did things for the Academy as well as having one of the most memorable female portrayals on celluloid in Detour (1945).

I hope I am not being unjust, but I think the production of the tribute sequence this year undermined what the Motion Picture Academy is supposed to be all about. Absolutely pitiful.

On the other hand, the Academy left out Lawrence Tierney from their departed tribute back in 2003. I was initially perturbed about that one. Upon reflection, I figured that maybe the production person on the obit segment that year might have actually met Larry at some point and gotten cussed out. cold-cocked or both. Sometimes there are reasons….