The story appears on

Page B3

February 10, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Staging Oscar show always daunting

THE Oscars show still is more than two weeks away, but the producers already are spilling secrets: Co-host James Franco can and will sing. The show will honor Oscar's 83-year history by presenting some awards during mini tributes to classic movies, performances and eras. And there will be at least one element in the show that first appeared on an Oscar telecast 40 years ago.

First-time Oscar producing pair Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer are mixing old and new for the 83rd annual Academy Awards on February 27. They are driven by their love of film, tradition and the power of the big show.

"We both had a lifetime of ideas stored up of what we'd want to do if we were producing the show," Cohen says.

A film and television producer for 20 years, he "fell in love" with the Academy Awards when he first watched them with his grandmothers at age 8. He started practicing his acceptance speech in the mirror that year, and his practice paid off when he won the best picture Oscar for 1999's "American Beauty."

"Right around that year, I started thinking I would love to produce the show someday," says Cohen, a slender guy with shoulder-grazing golden curls and an easy smile.

Cohen tapped as a partner of Mischer, a multiple Emmy winner who has produced and directed National Football League Super Bowl halftime shows, Olympics opening ceremonies and the Kennedy Center Honors. Despite such varied experience over his 35-year career, Mischer says putting on the Oscars is "different and unique."

"We have the reputation of the predominant American art form to protect and spread the message to the world," says the gray-haired, bespectacled Mischer. "This will be watched by billions of people when you put it all together, so you do feel that sense of responsibility."

To prepare their show, the producers watched every Oscar telecast from the 1950s to today. They interviewed all the past Oscar producers they could find. Then they let their imaginations rip.

The challenge? Honoring the history and tradition of the Academy Awards with a show that is fun to watch, both for the industry crowd in the Kodak Theater and for film fans around the world.

One new thing they came up with was tapping a leading lady and leading man as hosts: Franco and Anne Hathaway.

"That had never really happened before in the history of the Oscars," Cohen says.

The two stars, who were both nominated for Golden Globes and also could be Oscar contenders, are bringing their own ideas to the show, and singing is among them.

Franco "threw down the gauntlet a little bit," Cohen says. "He said, 'I want to sing, I can sing and I've asked (the producers) to let me sing.'

"I think we'll be taking him up on his request."

Another new element that also harkens back to history is that producers are planning various "scenic transitions" during the show. Music and images will take viewers to different points in film history, where some of the more technical awards will be presented.

"Different Oscars are being given out in different settings and contexts throughout the evening," Cohen says. "It might be a time, it might be a place, it might be a film, it might be a year, but you'll know when you're there ... and you'll see at least one, probably two Oscars presented there. Then you'll be coming back to today in preparation for your next journey."

The ceremony also will include something borrowed from a previous Oscar show, though the producers declined to reveal exactly what.

"We found a great idea from 1970, and we're stealing it!" Cohen says.

The producers recently moved their Oscar team into a swanky office inside a Century City high-rise in Los Angeles, the United States. Framed photos of classic movie moments dot the walls in the otherwise anonymous space, except for a 2-meter-tall golden Oscar in the conference room, which offers views of the Hollywood sign.

The Academy Awards will be presented on February 27.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend