By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 01, 2002 11:20 AM

If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has its way, such future Oscar hosts as Whoopi Goldberg or Billy Crystal may be reporting to work earlier in the year. According to the Hollywood Reporter, last week the academy’s board of governors decided to look into moving the annual Oscar ceremony to a date in late February, possibly during the networks’ heavily promoted ratings sweeps period. (During the past several years, the Oscars have traditionally been held in the latter part of March and, for decades before that, in April; the first Oscars were held on May 16, 1929.) This decision is apparently in reaction to the slumping ratings of the Oscars as well as the recent spate of awards shows that have stolen some of Oscar’s thunder, especially the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globes giveaway, which hits the TV airwaves in January. Oscar also contends with the American Film Institute Awards and the Directors Guild Awards, both of which take place well before the March Academy Awards date. Among other reasons for pushing up the big night, says the Reporter, is that it would provide less time for the type of backlash that emerged this year against “A Beautiful Mind,” which seemed to have a whisper campaign against it to sway voters from bestowing Oscars upon it. (It was still named Best Picture.) “If you could cut a month off (the Oscar campaigns),” DreamWorks executive Marvin Levy, who sits on the board of governors, told the Reporter, “you don’t have to keep running ads, doing things like special events, keeping the campaign alive, so to speak. You’re going to save a lot of money.” Meanwhile, next year’s Oscars are already locked into March 23.