×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscar Producers Talk Host Search, Jimmy Kimmel, and Venturing Into Live TV

The Motion Picture Academy on Friday morning named Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd producers for the 89th annual Oscars telecast. The announcement came one day after Variety reported exclusively that the Academy had entered serious negotiations with the film producers following a lengthy search.

Todd, whose credits include “Alice in Wonderland” and “Jason Bourne,” and De Luca, producer of “The Social Network” and “Captain Phillips,” served together as co-chairs of the 2016 Producers Guild Awards. They spoke with Variety about their vision for the Oscars, the search for a host, and whether they will consider a return engagement.

When did you start talking to the Academy about the Oscars?
Michael De Luca: Jen and I had done the PGA Awards last year, and we were not secretive about our ambition to be considered for the Academy Awards. So we started initial conversations around that time, and it evolved.

So you had been eyeing this gig for a little while.
De Luca: A little while. Twenty-five years.
Jennifer Todd: It’s something we’ve talked about for a long time wanting to do. It’s definitely been on the bucket list for us, talking about the show and how we would do it if we ever got to have it. It’s remarkable that it’s here, so we’re excited.

Creatively, what are your goals for the show?
De Luca: We want to lean heavily on joy and laughs and have it be no homework  — just a good time, people celebrating each other, trying to event-ize the telecast. Not to minimize the nominated films, but to give the telecast and the production of the show things about it that make it must-see TV. That’s the bar we’re setting for ourselves. So we’re trying to come up with ways to augment the awards with special things that make you laugh or remind you that movies have been your best friend for your whole life and your family’s lives — through thick and thin. Especially in bad times when you want to escape, we’ve been there for you.

How boxed in are you by the format of the show? There is a set number of categories you have to get through. There are certain viewer expectations. How do you innovate with those limitations in place?
De Luca: We’re still thinking about it. Obviously we can dictate the order of the awards for maximum entertainment value. But I think truly the selection of the presenters is where you can really have fun. Because no matter what the award is, you put the right presenters on there, and that award becomes fun.

Are you in conversation with anyone yet about hosting?
Todd: We’re not yet. We’ve got our long list started. But we’ve got a lot of ideas. We haven’t really narrowed it down quite yet.

How long is that initial list?
Todd: Pretty long. I would say all-encompassing right now. We’re not ruling anybody out right now.
De Luca: Right now we’re in kitchen-sink territory. That’s going to get shorter real quick.

Do you have a target date by which you want to have a host in place?
De Luca: Tomorrow. Time is of the essence, so we’re hoping to hit pay dirt within the next couple of days or weeks.

Are there folks who you’ve worked with in the past that you’d like to see up there?
De Luca: We’re not naming names. Jen and I both, our careers as producers are pretty eclectic. There are a few people I think would be great in both our filmographies.

Ben Sherwood at Disney had said that he was “very hopeful” that Jimmy Kimmel would host. Is that a possibility?
Todd: Yes, everything is on the table. Everybody’s on the table right now. Like we said, we’re still in our kitchen sink [stage]. Jimmy included. But we’ll get there soon.

You both have a lot of film and TV experience, not a ton of it in the live space. How will you take your experience and apply it to a live television broadcast?
De Luca: The PGAs are very humble. They’re not televised. But it is a live event. And look, like every producer that’s come into this having come from being a film and TV producer, not having produced Broadway shows or live events or live telecasts, we’re going to lean on the crack production staff that has done this for decades. I think this could be a combination of our experience, which in this field may be limited, and taking advantage of the experience of everyone at ABC and the Academy, who have displayed excellence in doing this forever.

If on Feb. 27 you wake up and say to yourselves, “That was fun,” would you come back and do it again, as we’ve seen some producers do in the past?
De Luca: I don’t want to say for Jennifer, but I absolutely would. Unless something horrible goes wrong.
Todd: Hopefully we’ll be making movies in between, but yes, for sure.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Patria

    HBO Europe Unveils ‘Patria’ Footage to Captive San Sebastian Audience

    SAN SEBASTIAN — Amid large expectation, HBO Europe has revealed first footage giving a first sense of tone and pace of its Spanish original series “Patria.” A packed-to-overflowing press conference on Saturday morning at the San Sebastian Festival can be read as one sign of the potential popularity of the eight-part series. The panel sneak-peek [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

  • ABC Studios Logo

    ABC Studios Head of Alternative Fernando Hernandez Exits

    ABC Studios’ head of alternative Fernando Hernandez has departed from his post at the Disney-owned television studio, a source familiar with the situation told Variety. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news. Hernandez’s exit follows an executive shuffling at the top in recent months that has included the departure of Amy Hartwick, ABC Studio’s head [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • TV Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville'

    TV News Roundup: Erica Durance Reprises 'Smallville' Role in 'Arrowverse' Crossover

    In today’s TV news roundup, Erica Durance reprises her “Smallville” role in the CW’s annual “Arrowverse” crossover, and Showtime shares with Variety an exclusive sneak peek at the return of “The Circus.” FIRST LOOKS “2020 is the most important election of our lifetime,” Alex Wagner says in a new trailer for the fourth season of [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content