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Winner for short speech is de Wit

LOS ANGELES — And the television set goes to . . . Michael Dudok de Wit, who gave the shortest acceptance speech at Sunday's Academy Awards.

De Wit — who, appropriately enough, received the Oscar for best animated short — will receive a high-definition TV set valued at $2,500 for limiting his remarks to 18 seconds.

Longtime Oscar producer Gil Cates, who has repeatedly urged winners to avoid dull, long-winded speeches, dangled the bribe at the traditional nominees' luncheon before the ceremony. (Winners typically are allotted 45 seconds on stage.)

De Wit said he didn't have the TV in mind Sunday when he won for "Father and Daughter." He plans to give the set to a children's charity.

"I did not write the shortest speech to win the television set. I have many television sets. I wrote it to say what I had to say and no more," de Wit said.

Cates on Tuesday said he wished more winners would have followed de Wit's example.

Most didn't, including best-actress winner (for "Erin Brockovich") Julia Roberts.

"I have a television, so I'm going to spend some time here to tell you some things," an exultant Roberts told the audience.

A close second to de Wit was Tim Yip, who won the Oscar for art direction for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Yip's remarks were nine seconds longer than de Wit's.

Such brevity helped trim the show, which clocked in at 43 minutes shorter than last year's record-long Oscar telecast of four hours, eight minutes.

TV ratings also were shaved, with the ceremony ranking as the lowest-rated since 1986.

De Wit's speech, in its entirety: "I would like to thank my two producers, Claire Jennings from London and Willem Thijssen from Amsterdam, and both for their dedication and very hard work. And I would like to thank especially my wife, Arielle, for her support. Thank you, academy members. This is fantastic."