LAST week's Oscars ceremony smacked of anti-climax for some people. Those people were either readers of the Los Angeles Times or television presenters who knew exactly what was going to happen beforehand. No, not the winners (although the major categories proved to be pretty predictable), but the stuff that went in between. You see, TV stations around the world are supplied with a copy of the show's rundown, including speeches, a few days before the ceremony. That rundown is supposed to be embargoed, but the Los Angeles Times decided to reveal a few juicy nuggets of information regarding presenters, performers and even the contents of some speeches. The rest kept quiet but it certainly made for an interesting weekend's reading. Dispiriting, too. It really would be nice to believe that all those creative people do and say all those funny things off the cuff but we're all too pragmatic for that. It's big television, big business and all as carefully orchestrated as a Chris Patten 'informal' meet-the-people session. In this mood of cynicism, one can't help wondering whether other significant moments are equally well choreographed. Could there be an auto-prompt stashed away in the eaves at the Hong Kong Stadium which will flash, 'pass it to Serevi, loop outside him, collect a return pass and touch down three metres to the left of the posts' this afternoon? Or how about men on Nathan Road waving applause boards reading 'shriek with terror' at passers-by whenever a jewellery shop robbery takes place? Fortunately, things can and do change - go wrong even. There we were on stage for the Hong Kong Oscars broadcast on TVB last Tuesday, smugly confident in what would be happening on screen and informing the audience that next on the feed from Hollywood would be Macaulay Culkin - when up popped a different child presenter. 'Look here, it says Macaulay Culkin on the rundown,' the script-writer seethed afterwards. I, for one, was rather pleased it went wrong just that once. TELEFISSION HONG Kong television managed to throw up one of those sequences the other night that had you casting wistful glances at the 'Emigrate to sunny Nagorno Karabakh' advertisements in the paper. Up popped a trailer for a programme titled Nuclear Safety followed by the news that the slot was being brought to us by the Hong Kong Nuclear Investment Company (HKNIC). There followed a newscast in which it was suggested that should there be a major accident at the HKNIC-managed Daya Bay power station, there wouldn't be all that much we in Hong Kong could do. Nuclear Safety turned out to be reasonably interesting, but hard to swallow given the nagging reminders as to who was responsible for it being on our screens in the first place. Presumably there's nothing in the excellent local broadcasting guidelines to prevent those with an interest in contentious issues to gain access to influential media when it suits them. And if HKNIC can buy itself 15 minutes of prime time, then why can't others? Perhaps we can expect our TV listings to be studded with gems like Everything's Going To Be Just Champion After 1997. Promise! sponsored by the Chinese Government. Or how about Say Salmonella And Smile! brought to you by those nice people at the Hawkers and Fishball Sellers' Association. Prime-time would be further enlivened by You Look Great In Zits! from McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the Tobacco Foundation-sponsored Lungs. Who needs 'em? CHANGING ATTITUDES SO THEY tell them what to do and say at the Oscars and then influence the way we think about important issues. That can't be right, can it? After all, we are open-minded, forward-looking people willing to embrace the new. Or are we? If the debate over the new Hong Kong Stadium did one thing, it was to remind us all of the great Hong Kong public's fear of change. In the wake of the Jean-Michel Jarre concert, a promoter asked how many complaints the police had received, was told 40 andsaid, 'Oh good. We were expecting hundreds.' But sure enough, that 40 soon became one or two influential voices: rent-a-quote legislators and influential sections of the media. Suddenly the stadium was a fiasco, a disaster of planning, a hard cat to swallow for the Urban Council. Sure, there could have been more comprehensive work done in advance on noise levels and their effects, and measures to counter them, but the most depressing thing about the whole affair was the knock-the-new syndrome. We always do it. Someone unveiled plans for a ritzy new Peak Tower and we howled in outrage, despite the fact the previous one was cheap and nasty. The escalator had us seething. It was the end of the world when trams abandoned their 'ting-a-ling' in favour of 'toot toot'. What we need is a healthy dose of Jeremy Bentham's utilitarianism - all for the greater good and all that. The stadium is marvellous. It is excellent that we can now attract the world's biggest rock bands and impress them with our facilities. Yes, it's noisy, but then we can always ask flight-path residents in Kowloon Tong about noise, or anyone in Hong Kong who has to put up with jackhammers (and we do put up with them). The stadium is a good thing, and so are the Peak Tram and street trams that hoot. All we need is a classic piece of Hong Kong time-biding. After all, we're nothing if not adaptable, as fans of the place constantly remind us. It would just be nice to embrace the new for once, rather than eyeing it with suspicion.