×

Michael De Luca on Wanting to Return to the Oscars and Why He Passed on Paramount

Despite the mishap that saw this year’s Oscar ceremony end with the temporary announcement of the incorrect best picture winner, Michael De Luca, one of the producers of the 2017 Academy Awards, is looking forward to returning to the gig next year.

“We did the 89th Oscars as an audition for the 90th,” De Luca acknowledged in his keynote conversation that closed out the Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit Tuesday. “Our sights were really set on that anniversary show,” he said of himself and his producing partner, Jennifer Todd.

He added that he’d love this year’s host, Jimmy Kimmel, to return as well. “I don’t think there’s a deal in place with Kimmel, but I think he wants to come back and we would desperately love for him to come back,” De Luca said. “He was an excellent host. Jimmy agreed to be in every segment and came up with incredible bits, and really pulled everybody through the show. We’re looking to repeat that experience.”

In a wide-ranging discussion with Variety‘s Brent Lang that touched on everything from social media to the worst advice he’d ever gotten from a studio, De Luca, the former New Line, Dreamworks, and Sony executive whose work as a producer includes “The Social Network,” “Moneyball,” “Captain Phillips,” and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” also talked about his decision not to pursue an executive post at the newly restructured Paramount — and his overall support of the studio and its success.

“I love my producing career so much right now, but I took the meetings with Viacom because I really like the new regime there,” he said. “They seem like really honest, good, smart people who really want the studio to win, and everyone adores Jim Gianopulos. But after my Sony experience, I didn’t think I wanted to walk into a studio situation again unless I could really run my playbook, and at that point the CEO job was Jim’s. I didn’t want to have a boss between me and the parent company. I’m perfectly happy to stay as a producer, unless I could get that kind of opportunity.”

De Luca also discussed navigating the “tentpole-obsessed environment” of the industry when you’re a producer or a creative who works on original projects. “Studios that don’t own a lot of I.P. have to play into originality to keep a full slate going, and they are open to those projects,” he said. “You just need ambassadors. ‘Social Network’ needed David Fincher. ‘Moneyball’ needed Brad Pitt. ‘Captain Philips’ needed Tom Hanks. Those films will still get done, if they’re in the right budget box and they have the right ambassador, and you’re at a studio that believes in those movies and wants to keep those movies on the slate. I think that’s Fox, Universal, and Sony, and I’m including Amazon and Netflix, and we’ll see what happens at the new Paramount.”

He returned to the idea of originality when he offered one possible strategy for the new leadership at Paramount. “You can’t compete with Disney,” he noted. “What you can do is be the place that plays into originality. Be the place that does ‘Get Out’ and lock up Jordan Peele for the foreseeable future, or do ‘Deadpool.’ You can seed the ground with new talent, which is what the studios used to do on a regular basis.”

More Biz

  • Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018

    Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018 Compensation Soar to $129.4 Million

    Discovery Inc. president-CEO David Zaslav is once again making headlines for an enormous compensation package. Zaslav’s 2018 compensation soared to $129.44 million in 2018, fueled by stock options and grants awarded as the longtime Discovery chief signed a new employment contract last July that takes him through 2023 at the cable programming group. Zaslav received [...]

  • Jonathan Lamy RIAA

    Jonathan Lamy Stepping Down From RIAA

    Jonathan Lamy, the Recording Industry Association of America’s longtime executive VP of communications and marketing, is stepping down from his post after 17 years, he announced today. As he put it in an email to Variety, “I started back in 2002, which means it’s been 17+ years, four different RIAA CEOs, three format changes and [...]

  • Fox Layoffs

    Disney-21st Fox Layoffs: TV Divisions Brace for Deep Cuts

    A second day of layoffs has begun on the Fox lot in the wake of Disney completing its acquisition of 21st Century Fox on Wednesday. Longtime 20th Century Fox Television Distribution president Mark Kaner is among the senior executives who were formally notified with severance details on Friday morning. 21st Century Fox’s international TV sales [...]

  • anthony pellicano

    Hollywood Fixer Anthony Pellicano Released From Federal Prison

    Anthony Pellicano, the Hollywood private eye whose wiretapping case riveted the industry a decade ago, was released from a federal prison on Friday, a prison spokeswoman confirmed. Pellicano was sentenced in 2008 to 15 years, following his conviction on 78 charges of wiretapping, racketeering, conspiracy and wire fraud. He had been in custody since 2003, [...]

  • This image taken from the Twitter

    HBO’s Reaction to Trump’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Campaign

    Everyone wants a piece of the “Game of Thrones” lemon cake. From Bud Light to Red Bull the world of Westeros is open to a lot of brand partnerships, unless you’re using that iconic typeface to push a political agenda. In November of 2018 President Donald Trump unveiled a “Thrones” inspired poster with the words [...]

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    'Leaving Neverland' Lawsuit Proves to Be a Judicial Hot Potato

    The Michael Jackson estate sued HBO last month for airing the documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which accuses the late King of Pop of serial child sexual abuse. Since then, the case has had a difficult time finding a judge to handle it. Three federal judges have recused themselves in the last week, citing potential financial conflicts [...]

  • Members of the public mourn at

    Guy Oseary’s New Zealand Fundraiser Nears $150,000, Continues Raising Money

    In the wake of the horrific shootings at New Zealand mosques last week that killed some 49 people, Maverick chief Guy Oseary launched a GoFundMe campaign to “support those affected by this tragedy at this very difficult time,” and began it with an $18,000 donation. Boosted by donations from many celebrities — including Amy Schumer, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content