The Oscar telecast included a moment of silence to show support for Ukraine, while making an appeal for donations.
Instead of a presenter, the telecast went to a screen with a written message following a performance by Reba McEntire of Somehow You Do.
“We’d like to have a moment of silence to show our support for the people of Ukraine currently facing invasion, conflict and prejudice within their own borders,” the screen read.
“While film is an important avenue for us to express our humanity in times of conflict, the reality is millions of families in Ukraine need food, medical care, clean water, and emergency services. Resources are scarce, and we — collectively as a global community — can do more.”
“We ask you to support Ukraine in any way you are able. #standwithukraine.”
Mila Kunis, who was born in Ukraine, introduced McEntire and said, “In such devastation, it’s impossible not to be moved by their resilience. One cannot help but be in awe of those who find strength to keep fighting through unimaginable darkness.”
There had been speculation that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would address the ceremony or appear in some fashion. Though the Ukrainian leader and former TV star did not end up appearing on tonight’s telecast, talks were going on between LA and Kyiv for weeks, according to sources. Recognizing the power of the Oscars’ platform and audience, Zelensky and his inner circle were very open to the idea of a remote appearance as the Russian invasion stretches into its second month.
At the same time, while producers and the Academy recognized the importance of the moment in contemporary history, they had reservations about the ceremony shifting too far from the cinematic to the geopolitical in a year when the movies and the Oscars are trying to get back on track after two years of pandemic.
In the end, the decision was made by Will Packer’s team to keep the focus on Hollywood.
A Zelensky address would have been a moment unique in the ceremony’s history. Co-host Amy Schumer championed the idea. Sean Penn even warned that he would smelt his two Oscars if Zelensky was not invited. In a press conference last week, Oscars producer Will Packer didn’t rule it out.
But there also was a counter argument that a Zelensky appearance would be a bit awkward and incongruous, even for a telecast that routinely addresses causes. Wanda Sykes told Variety on the red carpet that, in weighing what was right for the Oscars, it was important to “know your lane.”
A number of attendees wore blue ribbons to call attention to the refugee crisis from Ukraine and around the world. The I stand #withrefugees were distributed by the UN Refugee Agency. “Artists have been wanting to show their solidarity for Ukraine and we wanted to ask them to extend this support to the almost 84 million people forced to flee,” Anadil Hossain, the principal communications adviser for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told Showbiz411.
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