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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Hoping to rebound from the Slap, film academy sets new Oscar producers



Looking to rebound from what was widely seen as a disastrous 2022 Oscars, marred by Will Smith’s shocking altercation with Chris Rock and controversy over changes to the show, the film academy announced Saturday that Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner will serve as executive producers of the 95th Academy Awards.

Weiss and Kirshner co-founded the production company White Cherry Entertainment in 1999 and have since collaborated on numerous televised events. Weiss, who co-produced the 2019 Academy Awards along with Donna Gigliotti, will direct the Oscars for the eighth consecutive year. Kirshner, whose credits include 14 Super Bowl halftime shows as well as the Tony Awards and other live TV events, will mark his first time working on the Oscars.

The announcement came in conjunction with a rare all-member meeting held over Zoom by the academy on Saturday, as recently named CEO Bill Kramer looks to communicate his vision for the organization’s future following the transformative but often tumultuous 11-year tenure of his predecessor, Dawn Hudson.

In an effort to shake up the show’s formula, in recent years the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has often tried, with mixed results, to hand the reins for the Oscars to producers who were previously untested in live television, including director Steven Soderbergh, who co-produced the 2021 Oscars, and “Girls Trip” producer Will Packer, who was at the helm for this year’s show.

But speaking to a group of reporters last month, Kramer said that going forward the academy is looking for more experienced TV veterans to steer the Oscars, which has been dogged by declining ratings for years, and hopes to establish an ongoing relationship with producers over multiple years. (Ratings for this year’s Oscars rebounded from the record low set in 2021 but, at 16.6 million viewers, still marked the second lowest in the show’s history.)

“The Oscars are a live television show,” Kramer said. “It’s very important to us that we work with producers who have expertise in that area.”

“We are thrilled to have Glenn and Ricky at the helm,” Kramer and Academy President Janet Yang said in a statement Saturday. “Their expertise in live television production is exactly what the Oscars needs. We look forward to working closely with them, our Board of Governors, and the Board’s Awards Committee to deliver an exciting and energized show.”

“Bill made us ‘an offer we couldn’t refuse’ but he really ‘had us at hello,’ ” Weiss and Kirshner said in their own statement. (There is no indication whether the two have agreed to a multi-year contract.)

Weiss, whose credits include 21 Tony Awards as well as other awards shows like the BET Awards, the Emmys and the Academy of Country Music Awards, has himself won numerous awards, including multiple Emmys and DGA Awards for his work on the Oscars and the Tonys.

In his 30 years of producing events for every major network, Kirshner has received 26 Emmy nominations and won nine Emmys for his work on the Tonys, the Super Bowl Halftime shows and other televised events.

Even as the academy looks for ways to reinvigorate the Oscars, ratings for awards shows across the board have been ebbing in recent years. Monday’s 74th Emmy Awards scored just 5.9 million viewers on CBS, according to Nielsen data, down a whopping 20% from the previous year.

No host has been named for the Oscars at this point but in his roundtable with reporters last month, Kramer indicated that, after going hostless in three of the last four telecasts, the academy is determined to name an emcee for next year’s show.

During that interview, Kramer also indicated his desire to see all 23 Oscar categories presented during the live show once again following an uproar among academy members over this year’s decision to hand out eight below-the-line and short-film categories before the start of the telecast.

“We want to see all disciplines equitably acknowledged on the show,” Kramer said. “That is our goal. There are many ways to do that and we’re working that through with ABC right now.”

“It’s our 95th anniversary,” he added. “We want to return to a show that has reverence for film and 95 years of the Oscars. It’s a moment to really reflect on our membership, all craft areas, our changing industry and our fans. There are ways to do that that are entertaining and authentic and that are tied to our mission to honor excellence in moviemaking.”

The 95th Oscars will be held at the Dolby Theatre and televised live on ABC.



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