Monday morning, Glenn Weiss And Ricky Kirshnerthe veteran live TV and awards show pundit who served as executive producer of the 2023 Oscars telecast on Sunday night, spoke exclusively with The Hollywood Reporter about jimmy kimmel– hosted show – how they feel it went; how they hope people will interpret its upcoming rankings; what they did Tom Cruise And james cameronabsences ; how Lady Gagathe performance of materialized at the last minute; and whether they and/or Kimmel have already signed on to return for next year’s telecast.
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How do you feel ?
KIRSHNER I feel pretty good. I haven’t read anything yet, so I hope to feel good in half an hour! But we always say the metric is, “Do we feel like we’ve produced the show we set out to produce?” Because we set the bar high. I really think we held on to what we said we would do – honor craftsmanship and show the movies that were there this year – and Jimmy scored, I thought. So yeah, pretty happy.
WEISS On top of that, I would say there was such a nice buzz in the room and on the nights that followed. It’s also a bit of a barometer: how the atmosphere came out of the space. It felt like the vibe was really cool.
Have you ever seen information about reviews? And when the ratings are made public, what would be a fair way for people to interpret them and gauge the success of the show?
WEISS I do not have. And I don’t know if people should be reading all of this right now – again, I’m saying this without knowing what’s to come. We did a lot of little subtle things, and I’m not even sure people back home know what we brought them. For example, for months we have been designing the set to be an immersive experience for the audience. Thus, the name of a winner is announced, and as they walk to the stage, footage from their film surrounds the audience. It’s a subtle little thing that I think really clicked with people – they started to care and understand and in some cases root for people. So I think a lot of things have been really effective in subtle ways that might not even be noticed.
KIRSHNER Yeah. I’m not a huge leader in rankings or data analysts, but I’m hoping that with all the buzz, maybe people will go check it out and we’ll get a nice +7 rating (which doesn’t reflect only people who watched the broadcast live, but also people who watch a DVR recording of it within a week of its broadcast).
KIRSHNER We’ve collected over 1,500 images of people working on movies, so I’d really like to thank all the branches and governors who helped us put this together. It was a massive undertaking on our team’s part, but I think it really paid off, and we couldn’t have done it without their help.
Glenn, you produced “The Envelopegate Oscars.” Last year was “the Oscars of the slap”. What will this year’s Oscars be remembered for, when it comes to this kind of shorthand? What will be the main quick reference for people in the years to come?
WEISS I think the feeling. I know a lot of people who didn’t know a lot of movies this year but watched, and they were like, ‘I couldn’t turn it off. That, to me, was the biggest compliment. The flow of the show, the way it kept moving, kept people engaged.
Tom Cruise and James Cameron were behind the two most commercially successful films of the year – Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of the Water, respectively – and none showed up. Tom’s excuse was that he was too busy shooting the next Impossible missionbut the director of that film, Christopher McQuarrie, who was, like Tom, nominated as producer of maverick, and also as author of it, was there last night. As people trying to put together a show that will attract as many viewers as possible, is that boring?
KIRSHNER I do not think so. We do the show for the people in the room and the people watching at home. Some people do and some don’t. Glenn honestly said on Wednesday (in a pre-show press conference) that Gaga wouldn’t be performing, and then Thursday and Friday that changed. We just go with the flow and produce the show for the people who are there and the people we work with.
WEISS Ricky is right. It might be a different mindset for us coming from the world of live TV, but things change all the time, Gaga being just one example. Some people are expected to show up and not show up, and conversely, someone who was unavailable suddenly became available at the last minute. Our whole modus operandi is being able to bend and mold and still create whatever show we want, hopefully with the best names out there, but it doesn’t matter who is there.
Speaking of Gaga, what changed?
KIRSHNER Honestly, and that’s not to congratulate us, because we’re terrible at it, but we’ve built trust in the relationship with Gaga over the years – I went to the Super Bowl with her and Glenn has did many award shows with her, including the “Shallow” performance at the Oscars. She really wanted to do something. Honestly, she was shooting her movie (the Joker suite) – there was no trickery involved. And on Thursday, at four, we got a text that she wanted to try something, didn’t have time to put on a big performance, but wanted it to be raw and people to see the real Gaga, and, with a voice like that, you don’t need much more than that.
Talk about how you and Jimmy strategized about how much you wanted to go about Will Smith’s business.
WEISS I think Jimmy wasn’t ignoring it but wasn’t overdoing it either. Jimmy, with his humor, will approach things a little differently. The few references throughout were in keeping with the tone of how Jimmy’s comedy works, and I think it worked. We didn’t want to stress anything. A point was made, and we moved on.
Let me ask you about the presenters. The Best Actress presentation is traditionally handled by the previous year’s Best Actor winner, but that wasn’t an option this year. In the end, you had last year’s best actress winner Jessica Chastain present both best actor and best actress, accompanied by Halle Berry, and I wondered if this couple was born because were you anticipating that you might have – as you eventually did – the first winner of best black actress be part of the presentation to the first winner of best asian actress? And similarly, did you ask Harrison Ford to submit the best photo because you thought you might have – as you eventually did – a reunion between him and his Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom co-starring Ke Huy Quan?
KIRSHNER We make those decisions and we take them seriously. There are a lot of discussions with the talent and a lot of negotiations. And I don’t think it’s a secret — because I saw it in (THR) — which Harrison was supposed to present with Glenn Close, but she couldn’t make it at the end of the day. It was just a couple of Hollywood greats. And it turns out he ended up giving it to Everywhere, and Glenn (Weiss) got a great shot of the two of them together. As for Halle and Jessica, we also asked Ari (Ariana DeBose) and Troy (Kotsur) to give the two supporting awards together. We just tried to do things a little differently this year. We had done the Tonys with Ari and she’s so great, and the way she played against Troy, I thought that was a really sweet moment.
Since you mentioned Ariana, has there been any discussion about possibly referencing her performance at the BAFTAs directly – she made a small reference to it in passing at the SAG Awards – or is that just too much? inside baseball?
KIRSHNER A little baseball inside and a little bit of her had evolved.
It felt like you didn’t have to – or choose to – face too many winners; when some didn’t heed the advance warning of not having multiple speakers you kind of cut their mic off but most of the speeches were pretty tight and graceful and I think the only one that got political was that of Navalnywhich doesn’t seem to bother anyone.
KIRSHNER Yeah. With awards shows, you’re at the mercy of, for lack of a better term, speeches, and we had some really good ones last night. I have to go back and watch the show, because sometimes when the speeches start I start watching the recap of what’s to come, but there were some great ones – the Daniels and Jamie Lee Curtis and Michelle Yeoh and Brendan Fraser. Just some really fantastic speeches.
How involved are you in deciding who is in or out of the In Memoriam edit? There are always complaints about omissions; this year, I’m hearing from a lot of people upset that Anne Heche and Marsha Hunt weren’t selected.
KIRSHNER We are not involved in these decisions. And there’s a bigger list (of people who died last year) on the Oscars website.
WEISS Yeah. We designed the performative element of it (involving Lenny Kravitz), but there’s actually a group at the Academy that gets together and discusses who to include.
(An Academy spokesperson clarified that the Academy committee that makes In Memoriam decisions includes one representative from each of the organization’s 17 branches, and some names more familiar to the public cannot be included because not all branches are entitled to representation during the limited time allotted for the installment.)
I believe it was announced at a meeting of all Academy members last year that the Academy hoped to sign multi-year contracts with its producers and hosts, rather than having to scramble to book and prepare new people every year. So, are you and/or Jimmy already registered for next year’s ceremony?
WEISS We will tell you about it. (Laughs.)