Nominees and Academy put differences aside over lunch – The Hollywood Reporter

Last year, for the first time since 1982, there was no Oscar nominee luncheon – the pandemic was still raging – but the wellness gathering at which everyone is still a winner returned Monday, held for the first time at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Century City. And despite ongoing tensions over how certain categories will be incorporated into the 94th Academy Awards telecast on March 27, the hundreds of nominees in attendance – who televised the Oscars Packer called ‘the best of the best’ during his welcoming remarks – seemed to put aside any bad feelings and was delighted to be in such impressive company.

At lunch, the nominees (and their pluses) are always seated with people from different films and different categories, as well as a governor or a former president of the Academy, which forces everyone to mingle in- beyond his existing circle of friends. This year, some tables boasted a particular wattage – for example, the Best Actor nominee Javier Bardem (Be the Ricardos) and nominated for Best Actress Penelope Cruz (Parallel mothers), a married couple, sat with the Best Picture/Best Director nominee Steven Spielberg (West Side Story) and nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay Sian Heder (CODA), which brought the film’s lead actress Emily Jones as his date, as well as the former president of the Academy Sid Ganis. During breaks in the action, dozens of attendees seated at other tables, including top international nominees Joachim Treves (The worst person in the world) and Teruhisa Yamamoto (drive my car), lined up to shake hands, ask for photos and, in Yamamoto’s case, even bow to Spielberg, who couldn’t have been kinder to all comers.

During the more formal parts of the event, when people were seated and munching on a vegetarian meal, Packer presented a short video (first played at lunch a few years ago) in which Kate McKinnon plays an old movie star warning the nominees, in the most humorous way, not to give long or boring speeches if they win. In addition, the President of the Academy david rubinwho is in his final term before stepping down, thanked Packer, acknowledged outgoing Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and asked the governors in the room to bow (Spielberg is one of them). And then the governor of the actors branch Alfred Molina read each contestant’s name aloud, summoning them to one of two stages in the room to pose with other contestants for small group photos, which I’m told will be more later digitally combined so that there is something like the usual full class photo. (Apparently, smaller groups were considered preferable due to an abundance of COVID-related caution.)

When their names were called, the Best Actor nominees Will Smith (King Richard) and Denzel Washington (Macbeth’s Tragedy) danced to the music as they made their way to the risers. Best Original Song Nominees and Siblings Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell (no time to die) acclaimed Best Actress nominee Kristen Stewart (spencer) took place near them. Head of Netflix Ted Sarandos was among those who applauded the record number of nominees from The power of the dogwhile Deaf People Associated with Best Picture nominated CODA and Best Documentary Short Film Nominee Audible applauded each other waving their hands in the air. And the nominees for Best Supporting Actress Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) and Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) drew particularly loud applause to my ear from a table in the middle of the room.

I took every opportunity I had to gauge the temperature of the category controversy with the governors in the room. Those who would speak on the record were overwhelmingly in favor of trying this new method of presentation and then reassessing the situation after the show.

One of my dining companions was Executive Branch Governor and Vice President/Secretary of the Academy and Chair of the Governance Committee Donna Gigliotti, which produced the 91st Academy Awards telecast, in anticipation of which the Academy adopted and then abandoned a time-saving method of featuring some categories similar to the currently controversial one. “I tried to do that in my year [as producer] and the board changed its mind. But as an officer [now], I just couldn’t see Will Packer doing that. And the bottom line is that when people see what the show is like, everyone will be happy. She added, “ABC has always wanted a three-hour show, but that aside, what the data shows is that when you go over the three-hour mark, people turn off their TVs, especially on the east coast. So if you want people to watch the whole show, finish it after three hours. Does she think there’s a chance the board will back down again? “No. It was kind of a momentous decision, I think, on the part of the officers to say, “We’re not backing down. We will hold the line. It’s important to, frankly, the survival of the Academy. That’s really what it comes down to. It’s no secret that the Academy gets 97% of its revenue from this show, so what are you going to do? »

During this time, I chatted with make-up artists/hair branch governor Bill Corso, a member of the board’s awards committee (which came up with the presentation method currently being debated) who once received an Oscar while standing in the aisle (as part of another effort to streamline television broadcasting). Of this year’s efforts to change the show, he says, “When I heard some of the ideas, I was a bit horrified. I said, ‘Look, what is really the important thing is that the winner goes on stage and thanks the Academy. I was robbed of that opportunity – I thanked a guy with a lens in an aisle, and the whole audience saw me from behind – so it was really important to me that everyone had their moment on stage. He added with a chuckle, “I’m also in a category that hasn’t had some of the best acceptance speeches in the past. I will have begged for a little editing – a little editing would have made a world of editing. So how much will ultimately be cut from the speeches of the winners in the eight categories in question? “As you just heard [from Packer and McKinnon], we want everyone to give a speech that will truly inspire and come from the heart, and if they do, their speech will go untouched. But if they start reading a list of names and they don’t contribute at the moment, then it’s probably going to be tightened. The idea is to highlight them. He added, “It’s a way to get a much tighter show. If it were up to me, we’d edit the whole show! Then it would be incredibly tight and perfect.”

And Governor of the Writers’ Branch and Vice President of the Academy Larry Karaszewski said, “I’m glad there’s experimentation. We try to make the show as good as possible. He pleaded, “Let’s have fun with the show. We used to reward Charlie McCarthy! Let’s make the show fun again. Everyone will always be on the show and everyone will always have their moment. »

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