HomeStreamingThe 2023 Oscars with Jimmy Kimmel could be the best we’ve seen in a while
The 2023 Oscars with Jimmy Kimmel could be the best we’ve seen in a while
March 8, 2023
You heard it here first: this year’s Oscar producers Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner will keep the Dolby audience in their seats.
This has to be better, right? It will be the first Oscars under Academy CEO Bill Kramer, who took over the role in July 2022 after leading the Academy Museum. After last year’s Will Packer-produced incendiary ceremony, which featured the host’s trio (Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall) slapstick, Kramer had a new mantra: Keep the show cool, fun and festive. The movies. And sure enough, that’s exactly what producers Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner say.
Here’s the thing: For the first time since Gil Cates, who produced the Oscars 14 times between 1990 and 2008 with hosts Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart, there’s an Oscar producer, broad With Oscar television experience.
Three-time Primetime Emmy winner Weiss (the guy who proposed live at the Emmys) has hosted the show seven times; this will be the eighth. Most recently, he was a co-producer at the 2018 Oscars, arguably one of the best shows in recent memory: he worked with film producer Donna Gigliotti. Kirshner, who has been an executive producer of several Tony Awards, is making his debut as an Oscar producer.
Between Cates and now we had recruits. Producers occasionally repeat it, but more often they are forced to reinvent the wheel each time. Mistakes are inevitable, especially since movie producers and directors aren’t trained to produce a televised awards show. This is how the Weiss/Kirshner production team updates this year’s Oscars.
Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner (White Cherry Entertainment) produce the 95th Academy Awards
Picture group LA
1. Make it a TV show. “We’re going to be in charge, my partner Ricky and I,” Weiss said during a Zoom call. “It’s been an interesting journey over the years with different people coming in. It’s a real pleasure to have Ricky and the people we bring to the table with television backgrounds to make this television show. Cates had a tremendous background in film, but he thought as (someone) in television, the kind of show he made, which was great. He was definitely a master of that sort of thing.”
2. Be classy. “First of all, the Academy Awards,” Kirshner said. “So you must be classy, right?” This is so that we don’t put concerns on other work. This is not a rock and roll show.”
3. Lean into nominated blockbusters. “Are we populists?” Kirshner said. “Yes. Because this year you’ve got movies that a lot of people have seen. You’ve got blockbusters. You’ve got movies that are in the zeitgeist with ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once.’ People are talking about those movies.”
The producers don’t mind sharing a little Hollywood history along the way.“There are moments when we feel it is important for the viewer at home to understand the category they are watching. We use the knowledge gained from the Academy Museum for education – not in a boring way.”
4. Let host Jimmy Kimmel play in the room. “We truly believe that audience engagement in the theater means people are watching television,” Kirshner said. “You don’t want to come back from a commercial and see people bored. So we keep them engaged in the theater, even when we’re on a commercial break.” (He promises that the show will be “very immersive.”)
Kirshner has a lot of confidence in Kimmel’s abilities — and that he sees the host’s role as a conduit, not a star. “As we’ve learned at many awards shows, you understand that the night is about the movies, the night is about the nominees, the night isn’t always about you,” Kirshner said. “Despite the fact that he is the presenter, he hosts the candidates and sees the viewers. And that’s important at awards shows. Sometimes people care a little too much about themselves. The night is about movies, and we’re there to honor movies and the people who make movies.”
Three Oscar writers (veterans Dave Boone and Agathe Panaretos and newcomer Nefetari Spencer) are working with Kimmel’s team, led by Molly McNearney, Kimmel’s wife who also serves as an executive producer and co-writer. They need to figure out how to handle the recent reactions from The Slap and Chris Rock.
“We’ve just been focused overall,” Weiss said. “We don’t try to relive a lot. Jimmy, who is so engaged, so wonderful, is interested in doing an entertainment show. We’re not necessarily looking for something that’s backwards or malicious. Usual (me) – as in his promo – self-deprecating, funny, but not at anyone’s expense.”
5. Play with the theater space. “The visuals of the show will encompass more than just the stage,” Kirshner said. “It will feel very immersive, like a movie experience.”
“And outside of the theater, the entire exterior was reimagined by a completely different team, bringing a different aesthetic to it,” Weiss added. “So we’re hoping it’ll be an exciting way for both the arrivals and the press interviews and our pre-show performance.”
6. Keep the Dolby audience in their seats. No more couches, tables or easy access to the stage. “Dolby will be more of a traditional theater setup,” Weiss said.
7. Rely on the Academy’s recently formed “crisis team” for any major snafu. The Academy’s CEO, Kramer, has created a crisis team to take over if anything goes wrong. There’s no backstage tumult like last year, when publicists ran between Academy executives and producer Packer, who asked Smith to stay and accept the Oscar.
“We brought the Democratic Convention, the inaugural ball for the Bidens and the Obamas,” Weiss said. “When we do events like this, the Secret Service takes care of a lot of details that we’re just not involved in because we’re here to put on an entertainment show. Same analogy. We’re here to put on a show and keep it moving. We are not involved in this part.”
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper perform Shallow at the 91st Academy Awards
8. Get the most out of your music. So far, four of the five Oscar-nominated songs will be performed at the Oscarcast, including David Byrne, Stephanie Hsu and the trio Son Lux (“This Is a Life” from “Everything Everywhere All at Once”) and the Super Bowl. star Rihanna (“Lift Me Up,” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”). We can only assume that Best Song Oscar winner Lady Gaga (“Shallow”) will soon be announced for her song “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick.”
“There are some great musical numbers,” Kirshner said. “They stretch themselves more visually than some other songs over the years. There are great visual moments in these performances.”
As for the dance number ‘Naatu Naatu’ from Indian music blockbuster ‘RRR’, the original singers of the song (Rahul Sipliguni and Kaala Bhairava) perform the song with professional dancers. Will the film’s superstars NT Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan appear on stage in tuxedos? “It’s a very complicated dance and something that has caught the world’s attention,” Weiss said, “which is pretty cool for a dance from a movie. That said, we will represent it as best we can with the film’s creatives during compilation. There is plenty of room in front of things.”
9. Honor each of the 23 categories in the show live. “Every category that’s aired on the show — basically every category — is going to be very nicely represented on television,” Weiss said. “And potentially online. The goal is to celebrate the films and everyone nominated in every craft. We definitely feel like you’re going to see a big hat tip during the night. I think we did a great job of celebrating everything about the movie, not just the clip you see in a commercial.”
10. Keep In Memoriam clean and simple. Lenny Kravitz will provide musical accompaniment for the In Memoriam section, which was too crowded last year. “We’re going to pretty much get back to basics and honor the people we’ve lost,” Kirshner said, “and that’s what this segment needs to focus on.”