Oscar telecast producer Gil Cates has threatened to ban Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins from future awards shows he produces because they departed from their scripted speeches Monday night to make political statements about Haitian refugees and Tibet.

Noting that past performers George C. Scott, Vanessa Redgrave and Marlon Brando have used the Academy Awards as a political soapbox, Cates said, "If a nominee wins an award and chooses to spend the 45 seconds in accepting the award to say something silly, that's their prerogative, because they won the award and it's their 45 seconds."But for Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, who were presenters - that means they were invited by the show to present the awards, they were guests of the show - for them to then get on the show and espouse their own political beliefs is rude and inappropriate and unacceptable behavior."

Other Oscar attendees chose to make their political statements with an increasingly diverse collection of multicolored ribbons.

Most in evidence were the red ribbons, including a tiny enamel pin worn by Elizabeth Taylor, which stand for AIDS awareness. But Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman wore purple ribbons, which Washington's publicist said stood for the fight against urban violence, and Geena Davis said a pink ribbon she was wearing stood for breast cancer awareness.

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An estimated 76 million viewers in the United States tuned in to all or part of ABC's telecast on Monday, according to the ABC research department. One billion viewers worldwide tuned into the broadcast from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles, the network said. A rating of 31.2 and a 51 percent share were the largest for the Oscars since 1983, making it the third highest rated program of the 1992-93 TV season.

Critics across the country weren't as kind as viewers. Pundits lambasted the 65th annual Academy Awards show as "more self-asphyxiating than usual" and "not Oscar's finest moment."