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Ratings were up significantly for Sunday night’s telecast of the 81st Annual Academy Awards over last year.

RATINGS UP, SEARCHES DOWN: Ratings were up significantly for Sunday night’s telecast of the 81st Annual Academy Awards over last year, which represented an all-time ratings low. According to preliminary estimates from Nielsen, the show on ABC (which reportedly slashed the cost of commercial airtime, although that didn’t stop such longtime advertisers as L’Oréal from dropping out) had an average of 36.3 million viewers, versus the 32 million who watched the Oscars last year. But that didn’t come close to the record set in 1998, when more than 55 million people tuned in, thanks to “Titanic.”

And either they were all watching on TV or were turned off by fewer A-list stars walking the red carpet this year, but less people sought the stars out online. The most popular Google searches after the Oscar broadcast were dominated by lesser-known movies and one award-winning deceased actor, according to Google Trends, which tracks the 100 fastest-rising search terms in a given hour. Heath Ledger, who earned a posthumous Oscar for best supporting actor for his role as the Joker in “The Dark Knight,” was the subject of four of the top 20 Google searches Sunday night around 10 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. Other top searches included Jerry Lewis, who was awarded a special Oscar for his longtime charitable efforts; foreign films “Spielzeugland” and “Le Maison en Petit Cubes,” which won for best live action and best animated short films, respectively, and the 39-minute “Smile Pinki,” which won best documentary short. Not even the hottest couple in Hollywood, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, could break the top 20 fastest-rising search terms during the particular time — however, “Angelina Jolie’s father” did nab the 34th fastest-growing phrase during the period. That would be Joe Buck himself, Jon Voight. — Amy Wicks and Stephanie D. Smith


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