Social Navigation

Lady Gaga, Tom Cruise, Will Smith – The Hollywood Reporter


on monday morning, Glenn Weiss And Ricky Kirschnerthe veteran awards and live television specialists who served as executive producers for Sunday Night’s 2023 Academy Awards broadcast, spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Hollywood Reporter about the Jimmy Kimmelhosted show – how they felt it was gone; how they hope people will interpret their upcoming ratings; what they made Tom Cruise And James Cameronabsences how lady gagaThe performance met at the last minute. And whether or not they and/or Kimmel have already signed on to return for broadcast television next year remains to be seen.

* * *

How are you guys?

Kirchner I feel good. I haven’t read anything yet, so I hope I can feel relief in half an hour! But we always say the measure is, “Do we feel like we’ve made the show that we set out to produce?” Because we set high standards for ourselves. I really feel like we did what we said we were going to do — honoring the craft and showcasing the films that were there this year — and Jimmy scored, I thought. So yeah, very happy.

Weiss On top of that I would say there was quite a commotion in the room and at the party afterwards. That’s a little bit of a barometer, too: how atmospheres were coming out of space. I felt the atmosphere was really great.

Have you guys seen any Intel reviews yet? And when ratings are announced, what is a fair way for people to interpret them and assess the success of the show?

Weiss I have not. And I don’t know if people should be reading any of that now – again, I say that without knowing what’s to come. We did a lot of little subtle things, and I’m not sure the people at home knew what was brought in for them. For example, for months we’ve been designing the collection to be an immersive experience for the audience. So the name of the winner was announced, and as they took to the stage, images from their film surrounded the audience. I think it’s a little bit of a subtle thing that I think really clicked with people — they started to care and understand and, in some cases, attract people. So I think a lot of things were really effective in a subtle way that might not be noticed.

Kirchner Yes. I’m not a big ratings fan or data analyst but I hope with all the hype maybe people will go check it out and we’ll get a nice +7 rating [which reflects not just people who watched the show live but also people who watch a DVR recording of it within a week of it airing].

Weiss exactly.

Kirchner We’ve collected over 1,500 photos of people working in film, so I really want to thank all the chapters and governors who helped us put this together. It was a huge undertaking on our team’s part, but I think it really paid off in the end, and we couldn’t have done it without their help.

Glenn, “Envelopegate Oscars” produced. Last year was the Oscars. What will this year’s Oscars remember, as far as this kind of shorthand goes? What will be the main quick reference for people in the coming years?

Weiss I guess the feeling. I know a lot of people who didn’t know a lot of the movies this year but watched, and they were like, “I couldn’t turn it off.” For me that was the biggest compliment. The flow of the show, the way it kept moving, caught people’s attention.

Tom Cruise and James Cameron were behind the two most commercially successful films of the year – Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: Waterway, respectively – and neither appeared. Tom’s excuse was that he was too busy shooting the next one Mission: Impossiblebut the director of that film, Christopher McQuarrie, who, like Tom, was nominated as a producer for Maverick, and also as a writer on it, He Was There Last Night. As people trying to make a show that will get as many viewers as possible, is that annoying?

Kirchner i don’t think so. We do the show for the people in the room and the people watching at home. Some people do and some don’t. Glenn said truthfully on Wednesday [during a preshow press conference] that Gaga would not perform it, then that changed on Thursday and Friday. We just go with the flow and produce the show for the people out there and the people we work with.

Weiss Ricky is right. Maybe it’s a different mindset for us coming from the world of live TV, but things change all the time, Gaga is just one example of that. We expect certain people to show up and then they don’t, and then on the contrary someone who was suddenly unavailable was available at the last minute. Our whole way of working is to be able to bend and shape and go on creating the show we want, hopefully with the best names out there, but no matter who’s out there.

Speaking of Gaga, what has changed?

Kirchner Honestly, and this isn’t meant to pat ourselves on the back, because we’re pretty bad at it, but we’ve built a trusting relationship with Gaga over the years — I’ve played the Super Bowl with her and Glen has done many award shows with her, including a “shallow” performance on Oscars ceremony. She really wants to do something. She was honestly shooting her movie [the Joker sequel] – There was no deception involved. And on Thursday, at four, we got a text that she wanted to try something, she didn’t have time to put together a big performance, but we wanted it to be a raw performance and for people to see the real Gaga, and with a voice like that, she doesn’t need much more than that.

Talk about how you guys and Jimmy have strategized about the degree to which you want to handle the Will Smith stuff.

Weiss I think Jamie’s way of dealing with her was not to ignore her but also not to overdo her. Jimmy with his sense of humor will handle things a little differently. The few references throughout were in keeping with Jimmy’s style of comedy work, and I think it worked. We didn’t want to play anything. A point was made, and we moved on.

Let me ask you about the presenters. Best Actress is traditionally presented by last year’s Best Actor winner, but that wasn’t an option this year. In the finale, last year’s Best Actress nominee Jessica Chastain, who presented Best Actress and Best Actress, was accompanied by Halle Berry, and I wondered if the pairing happened because you were expecting that – as I did in the finale – would she be the first Best Actress winner As part of the presentation for the first Asian Best Actress winner? Likewise, did you ask Harrison Ford to make the best picture because you figured you might have – as you eventually did – a reunion between him and him? Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Co-star Ke Huy Quan?

Kirchner We make these decisions, and we take them very seriously. There are a lot of discussions with talented people, a lot of negotiations. And I don’t think it’s a secret – because I saw it in him [THR] — which Harrison was supposed to perform with Glenn Close, but wasn’t able to do so at the end of the day. That was just the pair of two Hollywood greats. And it turns out that he ended up giving it to her Everything is everywhereand Glenn [Weiss] I got a great shot of the two of them together. As far as Haley and Jessica, we also had Ari [Ariana DeBose] and Troy [Kotsur] Giving both support awards. We just tried to do things a little differently this year. We did the Tonys with Ari and it’s so cool, the way she played Troy, I thought it was a really cool moment.

Since Ariana was mentioned, has there been any discussion about directly referring to her performance at the BAFTAs – she did mention it a bit at the SAG Awards – or is this within baseball as well?

Kirchner A little bit of indoor baseball and a little bit of it has moved forward.

You felt you didn’t have to – or didn’t choose to – play to too many winners; When some didn’t heed the advance warning about not having multiple speakers I sort of muted their mic, but most of the speeches were very narrow and bland, and I think the only one that got political was for Navalnywhich didn’t seem to bother anyone.

Kirchner Yes. With award shows, you’re at the mercy of, for lack of a better term, than speeches, and we had some great words last night. I’ll have to go back and look at the show, because sometimes when the speeches start I start looking at the What’s Next synopsis, but there were some great ones – Daniels, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Fraser. Just some really great speeches.

How involved are you in the decision about who gets in or out of the In Memoriam montage? There are always gripes about omissions; This year, I heard a lot of people were unhappy that Anne Heche and Marsha Hunt didn’t make the cut.

Kirchner We do not participate in those decisions. There is a larger list [of people who died in the last year] On the Academy Awards website.

Weiss Yes. We made the performance element out of it [involving Lenny Kravitz]But there is already a group in the academy that meets and discusses who should be included.

[An Academy spokesperson clarifies that the Academy committee that makes In Memoriam decisions features a representative from each of the organization’s 17 branches, and some names that are more familiar to audiences cannot be included because all branches are entitled to representation during the limited time alotted for the segment.]

I think it was announced during an all-member Academy meeting last year that the Academy hopes to sign its producers and host(s) to multi-year deals, rather than having to scramble to book and onboard new people every year. So, are you guys and/or Jimmy already signed up for next year’s party, too?

[Long pause]

Weiss We’ll get back to you on that. [Laughs.]

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.