×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The 2018 Oscar Stage Will Have Over 45 Million Crystals Embedded Into Its Stage

You’ll see a lot of Broadway at the Oscars this year.

There are ties to the theater industry, of course, in nominees like Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”), Denzel Washington (“Roman J. Israel, Esq.”), and Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (“Coco”), all with projects now on Broadway (“Three Tall Women,” “Frozen”) or soon to start previews (“The Iceman Cometh”). But Broadway is also all over the ceremony stage itself, in a set designed by theater regular Derek McLane.

Last year the look was art deco. This year? Crystals — 45 million of them, creating a geode-like proscenium. “The theme is all about light and reflectivity,” McLane says in an interview about 10 days before the ceremony. “This one is much more abstract.”

It’s McLane’s sixth year designing the set at the Dolby Theatre — and he first got the gig thanks to his theater work. He was brought aboard for the 2013 ceremony by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who at that point had recently worked with McLane on the 2011 revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

Except for the fact that the Oscar set is built for a live stage show, designing it isn’t much like work on a play or a musical, McLane says. For one thing, he doesn’t have to worry as much about durability, which is a concern for theater producers who hope their new musical will run for years. There’s also less automation in the Oscar set, in part because scene transitions happen during commercial breaks.

Besides, there’s no concrete narrative to guide the design. “This is more decorative,” McLane notes. “It needs to stand by itself as a piece of design, and one big question is: How do you do something that feels elegant and grand without being bombastic? How do you avoid visual clichés like the 20-foot-tall statuette?”

Rob Paine, the Oscars’ supervising producer, echoes McLane’s concerns. “I think everyone expects the Oscar set to be very grand, larger-than-life,” he says. “So it’s a challenge to always try to top the previous year, or to create something that’s never been seen before.”

With the proscenium inspired by an image McLane saw of a room at the Swarovski headquarters in Austria — the company is providing all those crystals — this year’s design incorporates a handful of distinct looks, from mirrored arches to a 1920s movie palace to a series of shifting, mirrored panels with baroque accents (and LED screens on the back). There’s also a more industrial backdrop, created by a series of big, sculptural rings accented with light bulbs. The aim is to achieve a different look for each of the 13 to 15 segments between commercial breaks.

“How do you do something that feels elegant and grand without being bombastic?”
Derek McLane

McLane’s work on the Oscars, in this and other years, has used light-up elements that he’s since started to work into some of his stage designs — like, for instance, his set for the pre-Broadway tryout of “Moulin Rouge,” bowing in Boston this summer. (This spring, he’s got Broadway’s “Children of a Lesser God” and Off Broadway’s “Jerry Springer: The Opera” and “Good for Otto” on tap.)

Sometimes, though, the Oscars — with cameras that rove all over the stage — make him think about things he never has to worry about in theater. For his first design in 2013, he recalls the director calling him up onstage. “He said, ‘Derek, what’s with this piece of scenery?’” he remembers. “‘There’s nothing on the back of it!’”

More Film

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Yorgos Lanthimos

    Film News Roundup: 'The Favourite' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Boards Crime Drama

    In today’s film news roundup, Yorgos Lanthimos has set up a crime drama, “Here Lies Daniel Tate” is being adapted, and Donna Langley becomes a member of the USC film school board. DIRECTOR HIRED “The Favourite” producer-director Yorgos Lanthimos has signed on to write and direct crime drama “Pop. 1280,” an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    Hollywood Agents Blast Writers Guild Over New Proposals

    The war between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents has escalated as the two sides battle over the rules on how writers are represented. The latest volley emerged Friday from Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents, who accused WGA leaders of misleading its members and asserted that the guild [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    Cesar Awards: Xavier Legrand’s ‘Custody’ Wins Best Film

    Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody,” a tense portrait of a family torn by domestic violence, won best film, actress (for Lea Drucker), and original screenplay at the 44th Cesar Awards, which took place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The awards are France’s highest film honors. “Custody,” which marks Legrand’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

  • Tessa Thompson Nnamdi Asomugha

    Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha to Star in 'Sylvie'

    Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha are set to star in the feature film “Sylvie.” Eugene Ashe has written the screenplay and will direct with production currently underway. The film is described as a love story set in the cool jazz era of New York City in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. Sylvie (played by Thompson) meets aspiring [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content