It didn't quite equal the 41.7 million viewers who watched the 2010 Oscars ceremony when Avatar won for best film and was a long way from the 55 million who watched in 1998 when Titanic won, but the 40.3 million who tuned in Sunday night represented a 3-percent rise from the 39.3 million who watched last year when The Artist won for best picture and a 10-percent rise from the 37.6 million who did in 2011, when The King's Speech did. Several observers remarked that it probably wasn't the production values of the show or the performance of the host, Scott MacFarlane, that resulted in the improved ratings, but the previous box office success of the movies that were nominated. Of the nine films nominated for Best Film, six had earned more than $100 million at the domestic box office and a seventh (Zero Dark Thirty) came close. (That said, not one of the top-ten-grossing films of 2012 received a major nomination.) Meanwhile, following the awards telecast, Jimmy Kimmel Live drew its second-biggest audience ever -- nearly 6 million viewers, topped only by its post-Super Bowl show in 2006.
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.