Oscar Show Takes Shape With Letter To Nominees: No Zooms, No Casual Dress, Covid Protocols In Force & “Stories Matter”

2021 Oscars Poster
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Oscar show producers Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins have sent a letter to all nominees that gives a glimpse into exactly what their plans for the scaled-down ceremony at downtown L.A.’s Union Station will look and feel like. It also lays down a couple of rules for those nominees as well.

First and foremost, the 93rd annual Academy Awards is definitively not going to be a Zoom affair, unlike the large majority of other pandemic-affected awards shows we have seen of late (save for the Grammys). In other words, you either show up in person, or the Academy will accept your Oscar on your behalf. “For those of you unable to attend because of scheduling or continued uneasiness about traveling, we want you to know there will not be an option to Zoom in for the show,” the producers state. “We are going to great lengths to provide a safe and ENJOYABLE evening for all of you in person, as well as for all the millions of film fans around the world, and we feel the virtual thing will diminish those efforts.”

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Unveiling a theme of “Stories Matter,” they also are asking nominees to allow themselves to be interviewed and to tell their own personal story of what led them to this significant moment in their lives. This does not mean just the high-profile nominees, namely actors, but every one of them. It’s an attempt to connect the idea that movies tell stories and, in one way or another, they are all storytellers themselves, with their own journey being one that can be shared on Oscar Sunday.

The producers also offer tips on dress code, saying the usual formal look is fine but please don’t go “casual.” In other words, no Jason Sudeikis hoodies, please. “We’re aiming for a fusion of Inspirational and Aspirational, which in actual words means formal is totally cool if you want to go there, but casual is really not,” the letter says.

As for Covid protocols, the Oscars are down with that and say Union Station will be treated just like film sets are these days. Here is what they have to say about that:

“Regarding the practical aspects of the show, our plan is to stage an intimate, in-person event at Union Station in Los Angeles, with additional show elements live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Of course, your first thought is CAN THAT BE DONE SAFELY? The answer is YES, IT CAN. We are treating the event as an active movie set, with specially designed testing cadences to ensure up-to-the-minute results, including an on-site COVID safety team with PCR testing capability. There will be specific instructions for those of you traveling in from outside of Los Angeles, and other instructions for those of you who are already based in Los Angeles. This will all come directly to you from the Academy to ensure you have a safe, carefree evening (a glimpse of the future?).”

As I had speculated earlier this week, when the Academy confirmed last week’s Deadline scoop that the ceremony would be utilizing both Union Station and the usual Dolby Theatre, the Dolby is going to be used for what producers are calling “additional show elements” — most likely meaning performances such as Best Song nominees, though that is not spelled out specifically in the letter.

They also give the usual producer pep talk about speeches, urging again to get personal and don’t read off a list. The Academy will host a 90-minute preshow gathering in the Union Station courtyard for nominees and their guests. Only nominees, their guests and Oscar presenters will actually be attending in person this year.

ABC will air the 93rd Oscars live coast-to-coast on Sunday, April 25, starting at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

Congratulations on your Academy Award nomination! To borrow the words of an annoying flight attendant, WE ARE HONORED TO BE A PART OF YOUR JOURNEY. We trust you’re happy that your fellow artists have recognized you in an exceptional year, and it’s our wish, as your producers, to create an experience for you as a nominee that lives up to and enhances that achievement.

The first—and most obvious—point we want to get across with this year’s show is STORIES MATTER. We, as a species, are wired for narrative. It’s how we communicate. It’s how we learn. It’s how we evolve. We are surrounded by stories, we’re swimming in them, they’re inescapable. And MOVIES are—we think––the most powerful form of storytelling ever invented. It is an art form that is unique in its blending of so many other art forms, along with the singular skills required to execute it well. Then there’s the final piece: the audience. The fact a movie can be experienced by millions of people in large groups simultaneously across the planet is another reason for its remarkable reach and continuing influence.

Therefore, if STORIES matter, then the PEOPLE who bring those stories to life matter. Namely, YOU. To ensure that EVERY nominee receives equal prominence, we hope you’ll agree to be interviewed (briefly) in order to help us tell the story of your path to April 25th. We want to highlight the connections between all of us who work in the movies and show that the process is uniquely intimate, collaborative, and fun (Usually. Hopefully?).

Regarding the practical aspects of the show, our plan is to stage an intimate, in-person event at Union Station in Los Angeles, with additional show elements live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Of course, your first thought is CAN THAT BE DONE SAFELY? The answer is YES, IT CAN. We are treating the event as an active movie set, with specially designed testing cadences to ensure up-to-the-minute results, including an on-site COVID safety team with PCR testing capability. There will be specific instructions for those of you traveling in from outside of Los Angeles, and other instructions for those of you who are already based in Los Angeles. This will all come directly to you from the Academy to ensure you have a safe, carefree evening (a glimpse of the future?).

For those of you unable to attend because of scheduling or continued uneasiness about traveling, we want you to know there will not be an option to Zoom in for the show. We are going to great lengths to provide a safe and ENJOYABLE evening for all of you in person, as well as for all the millions of film fans around the world, and we feel the virtual thing will diminish those efforts.

Our Speech about Speeches. It is our belief the show isn’t “too long” because of the speeches. HAVING SAID THAT, we’d like to say THIS: With great freedom comes great responsibility, and if you’re wondering what we mean by that exactly, we mean READ THE ROOM. Tell a STORY. If you’re thanking someone, say their name, not their title. Don’t say MY MANAGER, PEGGY just say PEGGY. Make it PERSONAL. The audience leans back when they see a winner with a piece of paper in their hand. The good news is you should be pretty relaxed by show time because you will have been at a pre-show gathering in the Union Station courtyard for the previous ninety minutes with your fellow nominees and their guests (ONLY nominees and their guests will be attending the show, by the way. Oh, and the presenters!). We’re aiming for a feeling of casual exchange and good humor.

You’re wondering about the Dress Code (as well you should). We’re aiming for a fusion of Inspirational and Aspirational, which in actual words means formal is totally cool if you want to go there, but casual is really not.

Finally, much has been lost and much has changed since the last Oscars. We will acknowledge that while reminding viewers of the power and necessity of stories to carry us forward, and how movies, in particular, create a special kind of connection between people all over the world.

We look forward to seeing you on April 25th.

With all our Movie Love,

Jesse
Stacey
Steven

93rd Oscars Producers

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2021/03/oscar-show-takes-shape-no-zooms-producers-strtess-covid-safety-1234717664/