Sunday, April 14, 2024

Who’s Zoomin’ Who? Not the Oscar Nominees: Academy Says Show Up or Forgetaboutit, No Virtual Acceptance Speeches


There will be no Zoomin’ at this year’s Oscars. Nominees were told today in an email from the Academy and show producers either be there or be square.

In the email, Steve Soderbergh, Stacey Sher, and Jesse Collins were sympathetic to the nominees who didn’t want to travel, but warned that there would be no option to Zoom in: “For those of you unable to attend because of scheduling or continued uneasiness about traveling, we want you to know there will not be an option to Zoom in for the show.”

This leaves no excuse for Frances McDormand and Sir Anthony Hopkins, each of whom skipped the Golden Globes even by Zoom. They both live in the Los Angeles area.

Nominees were also to dress it up, the Oscars are not casual. Even though it’s not the usual show, Jason Sudeikis-like attire (he wore a sweatshirt on the Globes) is unacceptable.

The in-person part of the show will not come from the Dolby Theater but from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Some live elements will come from the Dolby.

Even with all these new rules, I’m excited for the Oscars on April 25th. If you haven’t seen the nominated movies, now’s the time. It was a very good year for film. And the poster art is great. I never had so many cool images to choose from!

Here’s the email:

Congratulations on your Academy Award nomination! To borrow the words of an annoying flight attendant, WE ARE HONORED TO BE A PART OF YOUR JOURNEY. We trust you’re happy that your fellow artists have recognized you in an exceptional year, and it’s our wish, as your producers, to create an experience for you as a nominee that lives up to and enhances that achievement.

The first–and most obvious–point we want to get across with this year’s show is STORIES MATTER. We, as a species, are wired for narrative. It’s how we communicate. It’s how we learn. It’s how we evolve. We are surrounded by stories, we’re swimming in them, they’re inescapable. And MOVIES are–we think–the most powerful form of storytelling ever invented. It is an art form that is unique in its blending of so many other art forms, along with the singular skills required to execute it well. Then there’s the final piece: the audience. The fact a movie can be experienced by millions of people in large groups simultaneously across the planet is another reason for its remarkable reach and continuing influence.

Therefore, if STORIES matter, then the PEOPLE who bring those stories to life matter. Namely, YOU. To ensure that EVERY nominee receives equal prominence, we hope you’ll agree to be interviewed (briefly) in order to help us tell the story of your path to April 25th. We want to highlight the connections between all of us who work in the movies and show that the process is uniquely intimate, collaborative, and fun (Usually. Hopefully?).

Regarding the practical aspects of the show, our plan is to stage an intimate, in-person event at Union Station in Los Angeles, with additional show elements live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Of course, your first thought is CAN THAT BE DONE SAFELY? The answer is YES, IT CAN. We are treating the event as an active movie set, with specially designed testing cadences to ensure up-to-the-minute results, including an on-site COVID safety team with PCR testing capability. There will be specific instructions for those of you traveling in from outside of Los Angeles, and other instructions for those of you who are already based in Los Angeles. This will all come directly to you from the Academy to ensure you have a safe, carefree evening (a glimpse of the future?).

For those of you unable to attend because of scheduling or continued uneasiness about traveling, we want you to know there will not be an option to Zoom in for the show. We are going to great lengths to provide a safe and ENJOYABLE evening for all of you in person, as well as for all the millions of film fans around the world, and we feel the virtual thing will diminish those efforts.

Our Speech about Speeches. It is our belief the show isn’t “too long” because of the speeches. HAVING SAID THAT, we’d like to say THIS: With great freedom comes great responsibility, and if you’re wondering what we mean by that exactly, we mean READ THE ROOM. Tell a STORY. If you’re thanking someone, say their name, not their title. Don’t say MY MANAGER, PEGGY just say PEGGY. Make it PERSONAL. The audience leans back when they see a winner with a piece of paper in their hand. The good news is you should be pretty relaxed by show time because you will have been at a pre-show gathering in the Union Station courtyard for the previous ninety minutes with your fellow nominees and their guests (ONLY nominees and their guests will be attending the show, by the way. Oh, and the presenters!). We’re aiming for a feeling of casual exchange and good humor.

You’re wondering about the Dress Code (as well you should). We’re aiming for a fusion of Inspirational and Aspirational, which in actual words means formal is totally cool if you want to go there, but casual is really not.

Finally, much has been lost and much has changed since the last Oscars. We will acknowledge that while reminding viewers of the power and necessity of stories to carry us forward, and how movies, in particular, create a special kind of connection between people all over the world.

We look forward to seeing you on April 25th.

With all our Movie Love,


93rd Oscars Producers

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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