If there were worries that the increased 10 Best Picture Nominees were going to make the Oscars telecast even longer, the Academy has taken at least one step to keep the telecast less bloated.

The board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted to establish a new annual event to present three testimonial awards – the Irving G Thalberg Memorial Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the Honorary Award.

These honorees will be announced in September and will be honored at a celebratory black-tie dinner in November for 500 guests. That dinner will include film clips and remarks from colleagues. The recipients will be acknowledged more quickly during the Oscars night on March 7, 2010.

“For some years now, the Board has struggled to balance the desire to truly honor worthy individuals with the time limitations that the Oscar telecast imposes on these honors,” said Academy President Sid Ganis. “By creating a separate event for recognizing these outstanding people in the movie industry, we’re insuring that each honoree will be given his or her full due, without compromise.”

The Academy said the Board will hold a special meeting in September to determine these nominees (which were decided in the past in the December board meeting). No more than four testimonial awards will be given in any year, with only one Hersholt and one Thalberg annually.

Also, the Academy governors have approved a big change in the Music – Original Song category.

The Music Branch Executive Committee recommended that if no song achieves a minimum average score of 8.25 in the nominations voting, there will be no nominees and therefore no Oscar in that category for that year.

If only one song reaches that minimum average, that song and the next highest scored song will be the nominees. If two or more songs reaches the minimum, those will be the nominees (up to five nominees maximum).

The past rules had no minimum score but said there had to be at least three nominees in the category, up to five nominees.

Last year there were three nominees, “Down To Earth” From Wall-E; “O Saya” from Slumdog Millionaire; and the ultimate winner “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire.