The countdown begins . . .

We’re watching the carpet but talking about Michigan’s $200 million film incentive program, which Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed turning into a $25 million grants program.

There is a countdown to awards tonight – and there is a countdown until the legislature approves Michigan’s budget either with film incentives to continue to grow an industry that pumped $225 million into the state last year or a budget that kills the incentive program.

The issue has pit the workers in a burgeoning industry against residents who feel that the entire program is a boondoggle for millionaires and Hollywood celebrities.

That’s a shame.

But what I hope is that this issue will make Michigan legislators build into any legislation concrete ways to measure the legislation’s success.

If the film incentives, die, one would hope that residents, including those workers who will be out of jobs, will ask that question of any other legislation proposed over the next four years.

So even as I watch Anne Hathaway and Halle Berry and Cate Blanchett in glorious gowns and Mark Wahlberg and Matthew McConaughey and Mark Ruffalo in tuxedos, I can’t help but wonder how Michigan might have looked with more red carpets.

Sixteen minutes to go until the Academy Awards.

Eighty-nine days to go until the film incentives death or rebirth.