NEW YORK () – Ninety seconds. So quickly Steven Soderbergh believes the Oscars will convince viewers that this year’s television broadcast is different.
The concept of the series, which Soderbergh produces with Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins, is to treat television not as a television program, but as a film. And he is convinced that he has doozy opening scenes.
“We will announce our intention immediately,” says Soderbergh. “Right from the gate, people will know, ‘We have to wear a seat belt.'”
Changing the price of the Academy, a 93-year-old American institution, usually proved to be a futility exercise. Improvements were tried during this time, yet the basic format was stubbornly unchanged.
But this year, the pandemic shook the Oscars like never before. When the broadcast begins on Ril 25 on ABC, there will be no audience. The show will not be based on the Oscars’ usual home, the Dolby Theater (although Dolby is still a key venue), but Union Station, an Art Deco-Mission Revival air hub in downtown Los Angeles.
For producers, COVID’s challenges are an opportunity to finally rethink the Oscars.
“At every step of the creative process of making a film, when I ask why something is happening in a certain way, and the answer is, ‘Because it’s always been that way’ – it’s a real red flag for me,” Soderbergh said in a recent interview with Zoom. Collins and Sherem: “We have all taken this opportunity this year to really challenge all the assumptions that will be reflected in the award.”
No matter how good a job they do, the ratings of last year’s 23.6 million viewers will almost certainly fall. During the pandemic, the audience was stolen from the awards, and this year’s Oscar nominees – although widely streamed and more diverse than ever – lack such notices generated in the normal year. Soderbergh praises the Best Picture nominees as “one of the most author-directed sets of films.”
“If the teams in the Super Bowl are from small markets, it’s still a great game, people still care,” said Collins, who produced The Weeknd’s half-time show at this year’s Super Bowl.
Collins was also the producer of last month’s Grammy Awards, a television broadcast that praised his personal jam-session feel. This sense of community is also something the Oscars want to radiate.
“My big thing has always been: it’s not intimate.” It doesn’t feel personal, “says Soderbergh. “We are in the world of COVID.” It has to be this way. Nominees, guests, lecturers. And it is done. These are the only people in the room. It was just a strange reconciliation of disaster and my personal interest. “
The Oscars will certainly be very different from the mostly virtual Golden Globes in February. The producers opposed Zoom and ordinary clothing. These are, after all, the Oscars; there will be no expressions of acceptance in the sweatshirt. Producers pressured the candidates to participate in person, with appropriate security measures.
Some have barked at the College’s position – blocking rules are in place in some countries and cases are consistently high in Europe and elsewhere – leading to a compromise. There will be a hub for candidates in London and about a dozen remote satellite links late last week. Some material will be prepared in advance; each nominee spent 45 minutes with the producers.
Soderbergh envisions broadcasting as a three-hour film, not as a webinar. But what exactly does that mean? If the Oscars are a movie, what will it be? Should we expect a robbery film from the director of “Ocean’s 11” and “Logan Lucky”?
“It will feel like a movie, because there is an overarching theme throughout the show that is expressed in different ways.” So the moderators are basically the narrators of every chter, “says Soderbergh. “We want you to feel like it wasn’t a show run by an institution.” We want you to feel like you’re watching a show created by a small group of people who really attacked anything that is generic, useless or insincere. That’s the kind of intent when I watch shows I miss. Voice. It must have a specific voice. “
Technically, the broadcast will have a more widescreen appearance and cinematic access to music. (Questlove is the music director.) The presenters are considered to be casting the ensemble. One thing you won’t see, Collins says, is standard teasing before the award.
“When you see the cast members performing to award, you’ll see the connection,” says Collins. “It won’t be the two people who went upstairs who just met in the green room trying to hold on to the teleprompter.”
There is undeniably much to do with the ever-changing conditions and limitations of COVID-19. Logistics is “dull,” says Soderbergh. The ego, another fascinating ingredient. “He must be a witness,” he says. But the show is meeting. “I feel quite amused,” he says.
The role of Oscar savior is unlikely for Soderbergh, who dramatically said goodbye to Hollywood eight years ago. His criticism was that the studios did not innovate and that the films were based on a cultural center. But after Soderbergh returned to filming in a restless sprint of adventurous, conceptually daring films (some shot on iPhones, one shot on an ocean liner), he helped lead the industry back to production and remove safety protocols during the pandemic – including types of testing and quarantine. which will be valid for the participation of nominees next week.
The Oscars are an annual meeting of their kind for Hollywood – a moment of reflection, aspiration and recoil for the industry. This year’s prices, postponed by two months, follow a pandemic year for the industry, which closed cinemas and streamlined streaming services. Soderbergh hopes the Oscars will be cathartic and a gunshot wound to Hollywood.
“The cliché when you’re going to screen a film is to say it’s about hope and scope,” he says. “That’s the kind of thing we want to do to show what’s possible.”
It includes a loving celebration of crafts and nominees in each category.
“Snark is something we didn’t want,” says Sher, a veteran producer of “Get Shorty,” “Django Unchained,” and Soderbergh movies like “Out of Sight” and “Erin Brockovich.” “Instead of looking at it from the outside with a high degree of cynicism and sharpness, we pulled back the curtain and let it into our community.” There are many misconceptions about business. It is a predominantly blue industry with unions. “
Soderbergh plans to win the Oscar night – usually as his own cameraman under the name Peter Andrews – in a production car alongside show director Glenn Weiss.
“We’ve done so much resistance to make some big moves, but at least what we do when we get to the other end is to give the academy, the network and the audience real information about what they like and don’t do.” I don’t like it because we’ve made some big moves, “says Soderbergh. “That means it will evolve and it must evolve.”
Follow film writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jakecoyle