“I actually hope that’s not crucial drawback on the earth,” says Oscars co-producer Ricky Kirshner. He’s speaking concerning the prospect of one other slap, having been behind the scenes for final yr’s calamitous ceremony. However whereas it won’t be a real concern, it additionally has factored into the planning for this yr’s telecast, going down this Sunday.
“Properly, there have been groups of individuals the Academy put collectively,” says his producing cohort Glenn Weiss, alluding to a disaster group the group coalesced to react to any variety of wild moments, slap-related, streaking or in any other case. “However for us, it’s form of like producing a presidential inauguration. We’re accountable for placing issues on stage, the Secret Service is accountable for a complete totally different a part of it.”
Weiss wasn’t simply utilizing a authorities inaugural as a metaphor. He and Kirshner have been behind the expansive Celebrating America inauguration TV particular in January 2021, days after the rebellion, together with a litany of different stay occasions. A shortlist: 2020’s pandemic-era Democratic Nationwide Conference, a number of Tonys, New Yr’s Rockin’ Eve and the Primetime Emmys. Heck, Weiss and Kirshner have been even behind a stay broadcast of the SpongeBob Musical for good measure. As well as, the pair have had one hand or one other in previous Academy awards, together with 2017’s shambolic La La Land/Moonlight snafu and the occasions of final yr, when Will Smith, as Chris Rock later referred to it, acted as if he was Suge Knight.
“There have been a whole lot of issues final yr that folks needs to be very pleased with that obtained misplaced within the noise,” says Weiss, trying again on the notorious evening. “You’re employed so laborious after which that’s all everybody’s going to speak about,” provides Kirshner. “It’s unlucky. And it’s additionally unlucky that on the earth of social media, that’s what folks discuss. As a result of I feel there have been some actually good issues on that present that are by no means talked about.”
Other than the aforementioned pall of #Slapgate, the producers have subsequently discovered themselves saddled with twin controversies. The opposite is the brouhaha over Andrea Riseborough and her nomination for the little-seen movie To Leslie, the results of a scrutinized grassroots marketing campaign that raised the ire of some observers.
So with the entire drama going down off-screen, why even trouble with what may quantity to a thankless job? “Whenever you’re provided it, you’ll be able to’t say, ‘Properly, perhaps subsequent yr,’” Kirshner cracks. “You’re provided it this yr, that is the give you get. The professional is I consider we are able to do an awesome present. Additionally, whenever you’re a stay TV producer, isn’t this the head? We’ve executed all the large reveals. If you wish to do the very best and largest reveals and also you’re underneath a microscope, that’s OK.”
Ah sure, that unforgiving lens of the general public’s microscope. “I’ll say this,” Weiss goes on to elucidate. “This present appears to be underneath this magnifying glass or microscope greater than every other present I’ve been part of.”
Including to the eye are the blockbuster standing of this yr’s nominees, from finest image nominees Prime Gun: Maverick, Elvis and Avatar: The Means of Water. In the meantime, this yr’s performers embody Rihanna contemporary from her Tremendous Bowl bow in addition to Lenny Kravitz, performing throughout the In Memoriam tribute. In the meantime, Nicole Kidman, Dwayne Johnson, Michael B Jordan and Florence Pugh are set to current.
Although, he tells me, the extraordinary storm of curiosity isn’t a foul factor. “I feel it’s inspiring, as a result of on the finish of the day we’re coming at this with our sensibilities of making a TV present.”
The host of the present this yr is Jimmy Kimmel. However there have been rumblings that Rock was provided the coveted gig. I can’t resist posing that query: was there any validity to that rumor that Rock was requested to host as an alternative?
“Not by us,” says Kirshner, with Weiss including: “We’re not likely addressing rumors, however we’re pleased with the selection of Jimmy. After we got here into this, we actually wished to look forwards and never backwards.”
In accordance with the producers, they got here aboard in July with the choice to go together with Kimmel, who has hosted thrice earlier than, coming someday after.
Jokes Kirshner: “We went right into a room and everybody decided, and if the smoke that got here out the chimney was white, it was one individual; if it’s black, it’s one other. However really, Jimmy was the right resolution. He got here in sooner than in previous years as nicely and he’s executed the present earlier than. I’m not calling anyone out, however Jimmy’s additionally very understanding of the film season.”
In gentle of Rock’s jabs and different awards present hosts who play with the fires of controversy, Ricky Gervais and Jerrod Carmichael little doubt amongst them, they know Kimmel has a penchant for playfully ribbing versus inflicting deeper cuts. “The comedy shouldn’t be going to be on the expense of anyone within the room,” says Weiss. “We’re all going to be laughing collectively.”
So it’s the day of the present and the eyes of the world are about to be on the stage of the Dolby Theater. How do you retain your wits about you?
“You imply apart from burning incense, chanting and handholding?” says Kirshner with one other crack.
“We’re very used to stay tv,” Weiss chimes in. “It’s what we do.”