At a press conference on the soon-to-be red carpet (it’s currently mostly wrapped in plastic), the producers of this year’s Academy Awards, Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic, joined Tom Sherak, President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, to offer a few hints at what might go down this Sunday night at the Kodak Theater. After finalizing the list of presenters, Shankman, Mechanic and Sherak took a good dozen questions from journalists, and though they obviously saved the majority of details for a Sunday night surprise, there were enough observations, proclamations and suggestions to water the mouth of anyone excited for the show.
indieWIRE has a rundown of the press conference’s ten most notable pieces of information:
The opening number is apparently really good.
Bill Mechanic: We have the most dynamic opening from emotion to drama to spectacle to humor that has ever been staged.
Alec Baldwin brings out something special in Steve Martin.
BM: The two hosts will give a different feel to the show… It makes it more interesting, faster paced.
Adam Shankman: Alec brings out the most sweet, juvenile, old wild and crazy guy Steve Martin that we haven’t seen for a while… He works so great with Alec. They have extraordinary chemistry, and we watched the run through: I haven’t laughed that hard in a very, very long time… People are going to love them so much. It’s something that I feel like is one my proudest moments.
It will not rain because Adam Shankman called God.
Tom Sherak: Have a listen: It will not rain on Oscar night. It will not rain.
AS: With this job, there’s literally no one that’s too scary to call. There’s nobody too big. So I just called God. And like everything in Hollywood it’s a negotiation.
Younger audiences are gonna love it.
AS: Obviously we have young, hip, popular presenters on the show. And I’ve been very stern with them about how they present themselves. About how they’re now ambassadors for the industry…
We [also have] tributes that are so much geared toward younger audiences. They will love it. I don’t want to give it away because I think it will be an exciting surprise. Also, especially for the college crowd, comedy is really a central part of the show. There’s way more comedy then we’ve ever had.
BM: One of things we started with was “how do we attract the young audience, which has drifted from the show?” We actually designed part of the show… not to lose the traditional audience, but to reinvite the younger audience. I would guess anybody under the age of 25 will enjoy this show unlike any other.
So are international audiences.
BM: The international world has always been something I’m interested in. So it was one of the reasons that literally the first presenter we decided on was Pedro Almodovar. I wanted to not be xenophobic. I didn’t want to be like “America’s the only thing that matters.” So I feel like everything in the show will play overseas. The best foreign film award is in the show right next to the best picture, best actor, best actress awards. And presented by Quentin Tarantino – who’s last movie you could argue was almost a foreign film – and Pedro Almodovar. So I think there’s great respect for the international audience.
Cameron Diaz thinks the set is sexy.
AS: We walked Cameron Diaz through to rehearse for the presentation today. And just looking at the set she actually took off her jacket and said “you have to see this. I have chills.” She said” “This is the sexiest set I have ever seen at the Oscars.”
There’s apparently a lot of competition, and anyone in the movie business will feel proud to be there.
TS: Something seems to be happening this year. In all the categories. It doesn’t happen every year, but it just seems like a) there’s a lot more competition [really?], and b) in those categories [like animated feature and song] that don’t always have five nominations, there are five nominations from five wonderful movies.
It just seems like stars have been lining up and it was a really good year for all different categories of movies. And I think what you’re going to find, is that in the way [Adam and Bill] are going to present that this year is going to make you proud to both be in the movie business and be proud of what you’re going to transmit to the public. When I hired these guys I said, “Do me one favor.. just have fun.” This is a magic business, and I think what you’re going to see is the magic that they’re going to bring into the theater and to the audience at home.
Snobbery has departed the Oscars.
AS: [The ten nominees innovation] has forced the Academy to think outside the box. They had to think differently, and they thought in a really wonderful way. They thought about what makes a movie worth nominating, as opposed to how a lot of times ‘heat’ swings things, and I think in past some snobbery swings things. And I think snobbery departed the Oscars this year.
BM: Except for us. We’re proud to be steadfast snobs.
The friends-presenting-to-the-actors thing is all but officially confirmed.
AS: I’m not going to give it away. However, I will say that it will be really nice for the audience at home, but it will be even greater for the nominees. That’s all I’m going to give you.
And that sort of clever presenting strategy will extend beyond the acting races.
BM: We think it will be a beautiful moment. One of the things that we hope for on the show is actually greater emotional content. A movie – no matter how
We want people to talk about the show. We want this to touch people. We just did a number right before coming here where the director and assistant director were crying.
AS: I will say that – and this will be great for the TV audience – is trying to figure out the six degrees of separation between presenters and either nominees or categories. It’s sort of a fun way in selecting presenters for each category. And it’s not everything… I mean, here is my favorite one: For sound, I said “Ooh, what if we could have gotten Neve Campbell because she started ‘Scream’?”
BM: In the end, it wasn’t ‘what are the biggest names we could get,’ it’s ‘who connects to the category or film.’
AS: But luckily big names connect to a lot, so it’s good…