“Lynette and I have always embraced diversity and inclusion in our work and we already had plans before the nominations were announced to celebrate that, so I think you’ll see that in the presenters and performers,” Allain said at a 25-minute news conference Wednesday at the Hollywood and Highland site of the show.
The diversity issue has been highlighted by Cynthia Erivo, who played Harriet Tubman in the film “Harriet” being the only one person of color among the 20 actors nominated for Academy Awards and no female director being nominated in the directing category.
Howell Taylor said the ceremonies will be staged with inclusion in mind with a more open presentation area. “It will be less of a proscenium,” she added.
Allain said Kobe Bryant, who died in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash along with his daughter and seven others, would be recognized in the “In Memorium” segment. Bryant won an Oscar in 2018 for the animated short “Dear Basketball.”
“What’s appropriate is that he was part of the film community and will be embraced within the ‘In Memorium’ segment,” she said.
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The producers said that the biggest challenge was having a window of less than four weeks between the nominations announcement on Jan. 13 and the show itself. “It’s an incredibly short window,” Howell Taylor said.
Howell Taylor also said she was comfortable going host-free again, adding, “What the producers did last year was great. It created a fast-paced show and there’s more of a spotlight on the presenters and the awards so we wanted take that idea and build on that.”
“We wanted to put the focus on the films and the filmmakers,” Allain said.
Howell Taylor was nominated last year for the best picture Oscar for “A Star Is Born.” Allain helped launch the careers of directors John Singleton, Robert Rodriguez, Craig Brewer, Sanaa Hamri and Justin Simien. Her feature producing credits include “Black Snake Moan,” “Dear White People” and “Hustle & Flow.”