Oscars Creative Team on Acknowledging 'The Slap,' Putting Up QR Codes and Finding the Right Tone
The Oscars, which held their first awards ceremony at the stately Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 1929 and their first TV broadcast in 1953, are meeting the digital age head-on: Producers of the 2023 Oscars telecast, which airs on Sunday, March 12, will put up QR codes at the end of most "acts" of the show, heading into commercial breaks, inviting viewers to learn more about a particular craft.
And they plan to address the incident that dominated, and in many ways derailed, last year's show - the stunning moment when Will Smith slapped presenter Chris Rock after Rock told a joke about Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
Those were two of the news breaks that came out of a Zoom call held on Wednesday, March 8 in which eight key members of the creative team met with entertainment journalists. The biggest news that came out the session is that Lady Gaga will not be performing her Oscar-nominated "Hold My Hand" from Top Gun: Maverick on the telecast because she's busy making a movie, Joker: Folie a Deux, in which she's playing Harley Quinn opposite Joaquin Phoenix's Joker.
The Oscar team understood her decision. "She is in the middle of shooting a movie right now, and here we are honoring the movie industry and what it takes to make a movie," Glenn Weiss, one of the show's executive producers and showrunners, said on the call. "After a bunch of back and forth, it didn't feel like she can get a performance to the caliber that we're used to with her, that she's used to. So she is not going to perform on the show. However, this is all from our point of view of somebody making a movie and us completely understanding that that's what's a priority in this business, especially when we're honoring movies."
Oscar show production talent who participated in the Zoom call were Weiss and Ricky Kirshner, executive producers and showrunners; Molly McNearney, executive producer; Sarah Levine Hall, producer; Rickey Minor, musical director; and Dave Boone, Agathe Panaretos and Nefetari Spencer, writers. The session was moderated by Jacqueline Coley, awards editor for Rotten Tomatoes.
McNearney is not only executive producer of the 2023 Oscars, she is also executive producer of Jimmy Kimmel Live! and, since 2012, the wife of the host of both shows, Jimmy Kimmel.
Here are eight selected highlights of the conversation: