With cynics predicting an Academy Awards snooze fest this year thanks to The Artist‘s inexorable march towards Best Picture, Best Actor and more, hints of a different kind of entertainment have been dropped in the New York Times.

According to reporter Michael Cieply‘s sources, more change was afoot last year following the disastrous James Franco-Anne Hathaway program. And that perhaps, if the production process had not been thrown into a tizzy by the departure of Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy, there might have been a more radical flavor embraced than the one currently being rehearsed behind closed doors:

One line of thinking, according to people who were briefed on the discussions but insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for the Academy, proposed throwing the Oscar process wide open to a public that has been trained by American Idol, TMZ and an endless feed of Internet moments to expect some grit with their glamor. Among the suggestions: nominees using smartphones to photograph themselves in the run-up to the show.

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