The 2022 Oscar telecast will forever be remembered for the slap felt around the cinematic world. Will Smith’s assault on host Chris Rock during the telecast turned the production from a celebration of the movies to an unforgettable and unforgivable moment in Academy Award history.
Members of the production team for this year’s “Oscars 95” telecast – set to start at 5 p.m. March 12 on ABC – are committed to getting the awards show back to the business of honoring films.
Glenn Weiss, Executive Producer and Showrunner for the 2023 Oscars says, “I think this year, we have a whole new team and renewed energy, renewed energy to take this opportunity to honor the film industry and all the people who work so hard to make films what they are.
“This is a celebration of the nominees this year; but it’s a celebration of this industry, which is just coming back and putting out such great material. So we really just want to take the opportunity to honor all of those folks that were nominated.”
That plan sounds solid but the echo of the slap continues to resonate through the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood. That includes how the Academy was criticized for the lack of immediate action taken last year.
This year there will be security and a public relations team in place to deal with any incident as it happens. The question is whether there will be any mention by host Jimmy Kimble of last year’s incident.
Molly McNearney, Executive Producer, says, “We’re going to acknowledge it, and then we’re going to move on, because I think that’s probably what everyone wants, especially in that room.
“We don’t want to make this year about last year. But, yeah, it’s certainly something that we can and will address in a comedic fashion.”
Odds are that any jokes regarding the incident will be made by Emmy Award-winning late-night talk show host and producer Jimmy Kimmel who returns as Oscars host for a third time. He says that being invited to host the Oscars for a third time is either a great honor or a trap.
McNearney points out that the opening monologue is the favorite part of the show for the writers and Kimmel.
“He loves to be in the moment. And we have a team of writers that love to write with that spontaneous writing on the fly. And that is where I think some of the late-night training comes in handy too,” McNearney says. “Every day, different news stories are being thrown at you, and you’ve got to figure out a way to make it funny to people at home.”
And the jokes will not be ill-natured because Kimmel and his team will want to book many of those at the ceremonies as a future guest. That’s why the jokes will be more of a celebration.
Kimmel’s job also will be to help herd the long list of celebrities scheduled to present awards. That list includes Halle Bailey, Antonio Banderas, Elizabeth Banks, Jessica Chastain, John Cho, Andrew Garfield, Hugh Grant, Danai Gurira, Salma Hayek Pinault, Nicole Kidman, Florence Pugh and Sigourney Weaver. Also set to present are Riz Ahmed, Emily Blunt, Glenn Close, Jennifer Connelly, Ariana DeBose, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael B. Jordan, Troy Kotsur, Jonathan Majors, Melissa McCarthy, Janelle Monáe, Deepika Padukone, Questlove, Zoe Saldaña and Donnie Yen.
They will be handing out honors where “Everything Everywhere All at Once” tops all films with 11 total nominations. Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” and Edward Berger’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” tied for second with nine each.
One celebrity who will not be attending is Lady Gaga. Despite having her song “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick” one of the five nominated tunes for Best Song, she will not perform the number during the telecast.
Weis explains that Lady Gaga is currently filming a movie and that means she would not be able to put together a performance that would reach the quality neither the Academy nor Lady Gaga would accept.
The bottom line for this year’s Oscar telecast is to get back to honoring the best in both the acting and technical categories.
Ricky Kirshner, Executive Producer and Showrunner, says, “I think one of the themes is definitely honoring the crafts and what it takes to make a movie. Most people see just the actors in front of the camera.
“But as you know, there are hundreds of people that make movies, and a lot of people across the country don’t know what it takes. But we’re going to show what it takes and honor the people that make those movies. For us, the show never stops. When we’re at home, we’re still doing the show in the room.”