April 17, 2014

Academy Awards producer dishes on Oscar’s opening number


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: We’re weeks away from the Feb. 27 Oscar telecast, which means behind-the-scenes preparations are heating up. And if there’s one segment that the majority of channel surfers will want to tune in, it’s the show’s opening, where we’ll get to see rookie hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway strut their stuff.

But they won’t be alone. Oscar telecast producer Bruce Cohen told EW.com today that the opener will be a combination of filmed and live elements, and likely will involve “a very exciting and special guest star or two.”

As for those popular Oscar promos tat have been airing on ABC, Cohen says they were filmed on Franco and Hathaway’s first day of working together.

“That was their instant chemistry that they fell into,” he said. “And we immediately seized on that and are writing it into the opening and the show. They really play very well off of each other. Anne is like this hilarious Type-A overachiever who will just try anything, and James can just kind of look at her, and it’s funny. That’s part of their chemistry, and they’ve been creative collaborators with all of us since the day we brought them on. That was part of the advantage of having two such talented, accomplished, and engaged folks.”

And while producers are usually tight-lipped about the visual style of the telecast ahead of airing, Cohen opened up to EW about one of the ideas they’re going to try.

“We have these highly-complicated scenic transitions that we’re using to tell some of the great moments in film history and Oscar history,” Cohen says. “There are about six or seven times in the show when we’re going to metaphorically leave the stage of the Kodak today, and the stage is gonna transition through lighting, music, sound, and set back to an old movie, a classic performance, an event, a time period.”

That sounds exciting. While Franco and Hathaway have both come out and admitted their hiring is an attempt to lure younger film fans to the Oscars, it’s always appreciated when the Academy pays tribute to old Hollywood and the film industry’s roots.

The Oscars will be televised on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 27. Make sure you are tuning in from minute one.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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