With just 72 hours until the Academy Awards, the team behind this year’s show gathered for a press conference to share more about their plans. Working under the theme of “movie lovers unite,” the producers have come under fire for significant changes, including moving eight categories to the hour before the live telecast and the inclusion of a fan-favorite award.
“It’s not just a theme for us. It’s a mantra,” said Will Packer, who is producing the March 27 show with Shayla Cowan, of the “movie lovers unite” theme. “Movies are the one thing that actually does unite so many of us as a global community.”
Packer did answer several questions from the press that shed a little more light on the show, but he kept many details close to the vest. He confirmed that the best-picture category will end the show this year, in contrast to last year’s unusual choice to move best actor to last. He also confirmed that the presenter for the best-picture award—traditionally an A-list name—has not been revealed and will be a surprise at the end of the night.
When asked about the decision to move eight categories off the live telecast, Packer echoed what he recently told vanity fair, assuring viewers that those winners would still have their moment. “Everybody on this stage values every last category. These are our peers…and we want to make sure everybody has their moment on this show,” said Packer. “One of the misperceptions is that things are being taken off the show, and that’s not the case.”
Among the many remaining questions is whether the winners during that first, untelevised hour will use the time to criticize the Academy’s choices. Asked about how those speeches will be edited, Packer said, “It’s a live show and we want to give folks the opportunity onstage to say what they will. We’ll see what happens.”
but Glenn Weiss, the veteran live TV director who has helmed this show multiple times, added: “The word is respectful. We are here to respect and honor.”
As for the other new aspect of the show, the fan-favorite award which is being voted on via social media, Packer said he wanted to add a “fan perspective” to this year’s event in hopes of making it more inclusive. “We didn’t want this show to just be for a specific audience,” Packer said. “We wanted to be more open in our embrace of the public.”
Two of the three hosts—Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall—were also present at the conference and promised an entertaining show with a focus on fun, rather than skewering anyone. “We’re coming in with love, we want everyone to have a good time, we want everyone to feel at ease. We’re not trying to trash anyone, but we’re going to have some fun and point out some things. But it’s not mean-spirited,” Sykes said. The third cohost, Amy Schumer, wasn’t present for the conference, and although a reason wasn’t given, the announcer stated that Schumer wanted everyone to know, “Don’t worry—it’s not COVID.”
Schumer had previously said in an interview that she wanted to invite Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine to be on the show. Today, Packer said he could not confirm or deny whether that would be the case. “The show is still in process so that’s not something we would say definitely one way or another right now,” he said.
“Isn’t it busy right now?” added Sykes.
Sykes confirmed that the three hosts would open the show together, and then their presence would vary throughout the telecast. “We get our moments together and we get our moments solo,” said Sykes. “We all might be drunk, so it might be nobody, who knows.”
Speaking of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the hosts revealed that there would be a moment focused specifically on the issue which Sykes described as “organic and thoughtful.”
Hall agreed that the moment, planned by Packer and Cowan, sets the right tone. “It’s a delicate situation and [the producers] have handled it so thoughtfully and I think the audience will enjoy it,” said Hall.