April 22, 2014

Tag Archives: the Oscars

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will return to produce the Oscars

Motion picture, television and theater producing team Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will return to produce the Oscars for a third consecutive year, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced today. The 87th Oscars will air live on the ABC Television Network on Oscar® Sunday, February 22, 2015.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Craig and Neil back to produce the Oscars again in 2015,” said Boone Isaacs. “Their showmanship has elevated the show to new heights and we are excited to keep the momentum going with this creative partnership.”

“This year’s show reached viewers of all ages and set social media records, proving that Craig and Neil are masters at tapping into the zeitgeist and capturing the hearts of movie fans around the world,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson.
“We are delighted to work with Cheryl, Dawn and the Academy to produce the Oscars for a third time,” said Zadan and Meron. “We’re proud of the show’s success over the last two years and are eager to embark on another entertaining show to honor this year’s motion pictures.”
The 86th Oscars on March 2, marked the return of host Ellen DeGeneres, and featured memorable musical performances by artists including Pharrell Williams and U2, a tribute to “The Wizard of Oz” by Pink, and a star-studded, record-breaking selfie seen around the world.
The show drew an average audience of 45.4 million total viewers, delivering a 13.7 rating among adults 18–49 (Live+7), and reached 74.6 million viewers watching 6+ minutes, the best since 2004. The Oscars were TV’s most-watched entertainment telecast in 10 years and attracted the biggest viewership in 14 years. The show helped drive increases for the second consecutive year, marking a seven-year high for adults 18–34 (+3%); a nine-year high for teens 12–17 (+13%); and an eight-year high for kids 2–11 (+13%). Social media activity was particularly robust with more than one billion impressions generated on Twitter and 25 million interactions happening on Facebook on Oscar® Sunday. Additionally, DeGeneres’s selfie became the most retweeted photo of all time with 32.8 million views.
Zadan and Meron’s feature film, television and theater productions have earned a total of six Oscars, 11 Emmy® Awards, two Tony® Awards, a Grammy® Award, five Golden Globes®, two Peabody Awards, five GLAAD Awards and two NAACP Image Awards. For film, they executive produced the 2002 Best Picture winner “Chicago,” which won Oscars in six of the 13 categories in which it [...]

An Early Glimpse at some Advance Oscar Predictions

Now that we’re officially a quarter of the way through 2014, I figured I’d debut my year in advance Academy Award predictions. These are actually the ones that I came up with back in March the night of the Oscars, so they’re not the most up to date, but they’re a good starting point for the season. I’m also excluding winners this time out, just so we can start slowly. Depending on how the season progresses, these can evolve into weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly posts, so for now we’ll play it by ear. I’m always keen to share predictions though, so it’s safe to say that this won’t be an infrequent series.
Basically, I see this season as one that could really favor Tim Burton’s Big Eyes, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Jason Reitman’s Men, Women, & Children, and Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. If I had to pick way too early frontrunners, Foxcatcher and Unbroken would be the two. They seem to have potential for across the board appeal, and that’s something an early contender always wants to have in its corner. Nobody knows anything at this point, but if you had a gun to your head, those two are the ones that seem safest to back right now.
Other titles you should keep in mind are Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, Josh Boone’s The Fault in Our Stars, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, just to name a few. The vast majority of contenders are sight unseen right now though, so everything is purely speculation, and will be well until the fall. We’ll know some more soon, but all won’t be revealed for many months. That’s part of the fun of all this though, at least for me. I love seeing how it all unfolds and tracking how my predictions evolve/if any of my long shots wind up coming to fruition. It’s all educated guesswork, but I pride myself on being a decent prognosticator, so I try to keep track of it all. You’ll all get to be the judge throughout 2014, and this isn’t a bad place to begin. My final predictions rarely resemble these initial ones, but it could be fun to compare those as well too…later on, of course.
Below you can find my aforementioned initial set of predictions for the big eight categories at the Oscars. Next time I’ll do all of the categories and give [...]

Websites Offer Exclusive Hollywood Access

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
“Don’t Miss this Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity to Meet Miley Cyrus.”
That’s just one of the “celebrities for hire” listed on a website called Millionaire’s Concierge out of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., that also dangles the opportunity for its presumably rich clientele exclusive entre to major movie premieres, awards shows, walk-on roles “in the Hottest TV Shows or Films,” and many other luxury experiences.
“The World’s Biggest Stars Come to You!” the website exults.
“Hiring a celebrity for your next party won’t just provide you with the opportunity to meet a beloved star—it produces enormous entertainment value for you and your guests. Whether you’re planning a sweet-sixteen birthday party, celebrating a recent accomplishment, or simply painting the town red for the sake of it, a celebrity performance will turn your special occasion into an unforgettable experience.” Celebrities can also help “get your message across” at corporate events, the website notes.
It then lists such “celebrities for hire” as the Beach Boys, Blink 182, Jethro Tull, Julio Iglesias, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone, Jim Carrey, Sylvester Stalone (sic), Oscar De La Hoya, Jenny McCarthy, Donald Trump, Patrick Stewart “and many many more.”
It’s all about the public’s insatiable desire to be close to celebrities and big events, if you’ve got the money.
“It never goes out of style,” Doug Turner, owner of Millionaire’s Concierge, told HollywoodNews in a brief phone interview.
“I serve rich people all over the world,” he added, noting that he started his company 17 years ago.
The website includes a video segment that appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show which detailed how his company caters to its wealthy clients, like the time Turner said they dropped 50 dozen roses into a swimming pool from a helicopter for a client’s anniversary. The Oprah segment does not mention celebrities for hire.
A spokeswoman for Trump said that while the famed billionaire businessman may have met the owner of Millionaire’s Concierge years back in Florida, in any case, she has asked that Trump’s name be removed from the website.
“(Trump) has no affiliation with Millionaire’s Concierge and he does not do these kind of things,” she said. “He works with speaking engagement bureaus. Mr. Trump is one of the highest paid speakers in the world. These are legitimate organizations. He would never do this.”
HollywoodNews reached out to representatives of DiCaprio, Cyrus, Stone, Stallone and Carrey and have yet to hear back.
Millionaire’s Concierge also offers access to special Hollywood [...]

The Oscars® were no enormous shame, a few good jokes, no great shocks

I’m a big fan of Ellen DeGeneres and her understated, often brilliant humor. This was most evident when she hosted the 2001 Emmy Awards after the horrific events in New York and Washington that year. The show was postponed twice, and when it finally aired a couple of months later the big question was how it could be entertaining?
Almost from the outset Ellen delivered. To paraphrase what she said, it was something like the terrorists could not break our spirit. Then she paused and deadpanned that only network executives could do that.

It was funny, unexpected yet absolutely true. It related to the events just passed, but broke the ice and allowed the show to go on to its true purpose after the long delay.

The Oscars Rate a B-Minus.
I wish I could say Ellen’s performance last night rose to that occasion. Though it generally retained the dignity and glamour that audiences expect, something lost in last year’s show hosted by Seth MacFarlane, it was mostly bland with repetitive jokes and occasional good moments. Having said that, I cringed a bit when Ellen repeated out loud and very slowly a compliment to Nebraska supporting actress nominee June Squibb, whom Ellen had termed the oldest Oscar nominee ever, as if the actress were almost deaf and needed careful attention to hear her remarks.

Throughout the ABC show, Ellen drew from a past playbook and redid bits from the last time she hosted in 2007, often appearing in the audience, talking with this celebrity or that and taking photos. In one segment she asked if anyone was hungry, which drew very few responses and went on much too long. However, when a pizza man arrived later in the show, though only with three pizzas, it was amusing to see how many celebrities accepted a slice, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford. And that no one initially responded to Ellen’s request for donations to pay the man.
To read Michael Russnow’s latest book, “Hollywood on the Danube,” go to www.createspace.com/4497564

I’d thought sometime later it would have been funny if the delivery man, denied payment, started taking back the pizza slices from Meryl, Julia and the others. However, they eventually paid the bit off when Ellen passed a hat into which producer Harvey Weinstein threw two hundred dollars and several celebrities forked over twenty or more dollars each. By my count that was over three hundred [...]

Can the Oscars save CNN?

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
It seems that everybody is benefiting from the Oscar season…film festivals, awards shows, broadcast and cable TV networks, entertainment magazines and websites.
So, can the Oscars save ratings starved CNN?
The cable news channel has seen its ratings languishing for some time now.
As Mediate recently reported, “On Valentine’s Day Friday night, CNN’s evening slate of shows had a disastrous night, failing to rate above 66K viewers in the key 25-54 demo from 5-10 p.m. ET. The network was in 4th place across the board during those hours with Anderson Cooper 360 and Piers Morgan Live both at 66K in the demo. Erin Burnett OutFront at 7 p.m. drew just 49K in the demo.”
We’re not saying one is related to the other, but on Wednesday, CNN announced it was kicking off a number of Oscar-related telecasts leading up to the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, March 2.
On Thursday at 10 p.m. ET, Krista Smith, senior west coast editor of Vanity Fair and a CNN contributor, will host CNN Spotlight: And the Nominees Are? The hour-long show will feature Smith’s interviews with Oscar nominees Amy Adams, Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong’o and Jonah Hill.
Among the revelations Smith unearths:
“Amy Adams reveals that when she signed on to work with David O. Russell again for American Hustle, they didn’t have a script until like a week before,” a press release touting the show states.
The release goes on: “…Jared Leto tells Smith that he stayed in the Dallas Buyers Club character Rayon while filming: ‘I was walking through Whole Foods and I got looks from people and it was a real look of condemnation, of judgment, of disgust. And that was powerful to get to understand. Because I’m sure Rayon and the Rayons of the world get that look all the time—and have to deal with that in a much more real way than I did.”
On Thursday, Feb. 27, at 9 p.m. ET, the cable network will telecast CNN: And the Oscar Goes To? a two-hour special from Turner Classic Movies featuring great moments from 85 years of Academy Awards ceremonies, including never before seen behind-the-scenes ceremony footage from the archives of Hollywood Newsreel.
From Feb. 27 to March 2, CNN will “air live reports, interviews and take an inside at all the big events in and around the industry’s crowning event. From the rolling out of the red carpet to the behind-the-scenes stories [...]

Jennifer Lawrence to Present at the Oscars®

Oscar® winner Jennifer Lawrence will return to present at this year’s Oscars, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. The Oscars, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, will air on Sunday, March 2, live on ABC.
Lawrence took home the Oscar for her lead performance in “Silver Linings Playbook.” She is nominated this year for her supporting role in “American Hustle.” Previously Lawrence was nominated for her leading role in “Winter’s Bone.” Her other credits include “X-Men: First Class” and “The Hunger Games” series.
Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, March 2, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscars, produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Channing Tatum Announced the “Team Oscar” winners on The Ellen DeGeneres Show today

A nice little announcement was made earlier today by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (or AMPAS), as they named the winners of the “Team Oscar” contest. This was done on The Ellen DeGeneres Show by actor Channing Tatum, Oscar ceremony producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, along with DeGeneres herself, who will be hosting the show next month.
The “Team Oscar” contest was basically a college search that looked for film fans who could be potential Academy Award winners in the future, with contestants having to make an entry video that could catch the eye of those making the selections. The six students chosen will get to give the Oscar statues to the celebrities who will be presenting those awards during the telecast. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me.
I’m sure these half dozen college students will be buoyed by this pat on the back from AMPAS and use it as fuel/motivation to get their careers going when they graduate. Who knows, maybe we’ll see them accepting an Oscar in the next few decades? Anything is possible…
 

Here’s the press release from The Academy:
BEVERLY HILLS, CA — Channing Tatum, The Academy, and Oscars Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron today announced the winners of the “Team Oscar” college search on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” along with this year’s Oscars host, Ellen DeGeneres. The winners will deliver Oscar statuettes to celebrity presenters at the Oscars on Sunday, March 2, 2014, live on ABC.
“We created this contest last year to give students who are passionate about film, the opportunity to set their sights on the future,” said Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “We received so many inspiring submissions this year that it made for a difficult choice, but the talent and stories of these six winners really represent what Team Oscar is all about and convinced us that they are a perfect fit for the Oscar stage.”
The “Team Oscar” winners are:
Zaineb Abdul-Nabi – University of Michigan (MI) – Hometown: Bronx, NY
Tayo Amos – Stanford University (CA) – Hometown: Mountain View, CA
Nathan Flanagan-Frankl – Chapman University (CA) – Hometown: Northbrook, IL
Jeanpaul Isaacs – Rutgers University (NJ) – Hometown: South Brunswick, NJ
Bryson Kemp – Muhlenberg College (PA) – Hometown: North East, MD
Mackenna Millet – Pepperdine University (CA) – Hometown: Laguna Niguel, CA
The winner’s videos can be viewed here.
“I was blown away by the quality of the videos the students created, and more importantly, [...]

Update: Oscar Song Flap – The Spotlight

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
It was only last July that Cheryl Boone Isaacs, a long-time, behind-the-scenes Hollywood publicist and marketing executive, was elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The first African American and third woman to lead the prominent movie industry organization that each year hands out the Oscars, Isaacs’ election provided proof, if any was still required, that the traditionally white and male AMPAS membership was becoming more diversified. An academy veteran, she had served in various posts inside the organization’s hierarchy and produced last year’s Governors Awards.
But now Isaacs tenure as president is being buffeted by controversy over a decision by the academy’s board of governors to disqualify the song Alone Yet Not Alone from a small, faith-based movie of the same name that few have seen. How deftly she navigates the controversy could prevent the dispute from tarnishing the Oscars.
The song is from a film that had a limited release last fall to qualify for Oscar consideration and will be released more widely June 13. The song was recorded by Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic with limited lung capacity, and was one of five songs nominated by the academy on Jan. 16.
The academy’s rare step of rescinding a nomination came after the board of governors determined that composer Bruce Broughton, a long-time academy member himself and former board governor, violated academy rules by sending emails to approximately 70 of his fellow music branch members suggesting they listen to the song, which he wrote with lyricist Dennis Spiegel.
“No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage,” the academy said in a written statement announcing its ruling. The action was designed “to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process.”
But some have questioned the harshness of the ruling.
For example, Scott Feinberg, the Hollywood Reporter’s awards analyst, wondered if the punishment fit the crime. “… Do I think that they deserved to have their Oscar nomination rescinded by the Academy? “ he wrote. “On the basis of the evidence that the Academy has supplied and in the context of how most contenders campaign for Oscars these days: No, I do not.”
One long-time Academy member, who asked not to be named, said the board’s action seemed “a [...]

Oscars® to Celebrate Movie Heroes

The 86th Academy Awards® will be a celebration of movie heroes, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. Offering their first preview of the upcoming Oscar broadcast, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, the producers said the show will honor big-screen real-life heroes, super heroes, popular heroes and animated heroes, both past and present, as well as the bold filmmakers who bring them to life. The Oscars will air on Sunday, March 2, live on ABC.
“We wanted to unify the show with an entertaining and emotional theme,” said Zadan and Meron. “People around the world go to the movies to be inspired by the characters they see on the screen. By celebrating the gamut of heroes who have enriched our movie-going experience, we hope to create an evening of fun and joy. And that includes the filmmakers and actors who take risks and stimulate us with provocative subjects and daring characters. They are all heroes in the cinematic landscape.”
“Of course, there will be no shortage of comedy with Ellen DeGeneres as our host,” the producers added. “There may also be a few musical surprises along the way.”
To coincide with the Oscar telecast theme, the Academy will present “The Oscars Celebrates Movie Heroes,” an exhibition in the Grand Lobby Gallery of its Beverly Hills headquarters. On display Friday, January 17 through Wednesday, March 5, the show will feature still photographs and posters from 70 titles spanning nine decades, as well as video montages comprised of excerpts from classic and contemporary films. The exhibit will include films centered on real-life heroes (“Gandhi,” “Silkwood”), super heroes (“Superman,” “The Dark Knight”), animated heroes (“Shrek,” “The Incredibles”), action heroes (“Seven Samurai,” “Gladiator”), literary heroes (“To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Grapes of Wrath”) and more.
The 86th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at 5:35 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater by Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Chris Hemsworth.
Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation, produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, will also be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
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ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished [...]

Disappointment over the tasteless antics of host Seth MacFarlane

By Michael Russnow
In the aftermath of my review of the Oscars and that of many others who seemed to agree Seth MacFarlane’s humor was often wanting, I thought I’d offer a postscript as to why for most people the John Wilkes Booth joke didn’t work.
It had nothing to do with Lincoln being a sacred cow and, no, paraphrasing MacFarlane, who defensively rejoindered sarcastically when his joke bombed, it wasn’t a case of it being too soon since Lincoln’s death.
Simply put, along with a host of national critics I found Seth MacFarlane sophomoric, appealing to the basest form of humor, rather than seeking what many might prefer as a cleverer approach, finding unexpected irony while satirizing a situation. And before you point out that the ABC ratings were higher than last year’s, it had little or nothing to do with MacFarlane. The host’s popularity or lack thereof has only a small degree of audience pull. It’s been proven that the highest ratings usually accompany the popularity of the year’s nominees, and most of the 2012 best picture nominees grossed more than $100 million.
Nonetheless, in a discussion with a young actor Monday night, he said he found the Oscar host quite funny, including the John Wilkes Booth remark. I tried to explain my point of view, which was that, rather than cutting edge, to me it was cheap, sort of like banana peel humor. He responded that there were many fans of MacFarlane and that there should be room for that sort of humor on the Oscar show, in order to appeal to all segments of society. I should add that, during all this, he was most respectful and accepting of my point of view, as opposed to the personally insulting comments my review engendered from mostly anonymous readers.
I don’t mind the sort of argument my friend put forth, but still believe the Oscar show should elevate itself above playground or frat party humor. A lot of tween types find gross situations very humorous, and this extends into the teen years and for some even into their third decade. However, it is also true that life among school-age kids can be hell for those who are dissimilar, with cliques abounding, separating the in-crowd from those it deems wanting.
If you’re different, maybe not athletic or pretty or, God forbid gay (yes, even in today’s more tolerant age) life can be pretty horrid. Fortunately, [...]

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