The laying of the red carpet and the construction of press stands and bleachers has taken over Hollywood Blvd ahead of Sunday’s 87th Academy Awards. Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron haven’t exactly been spilling secrets about the show they’re putting together, but as the big night approaches we do know this much:
1. Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo don’t have hard feelings about being “snubbed” by Oscar voters.
The two actors didn’t receive nominations for “Cake” and “Selma,” respectively, making them two of the most-commented-upon absences from the roster of nominees. But both are honoring the show that didn’t nominate them with their presence as presenters.
So, for that matter, is Jessica Chastain, who made the cut at the Spirit Awards but not the Oscars for her performance in “A Most Violent Year.”
Others who were overlooked by Oscar voters but booked by Oscar producers include Ben Affleck (“Gone Girl”), Channing Tatum (“Foxcatcher”), Miles Teller (“Whiplash”) and Naomi Watts (a SAG nominee for “St. Vincent,” not that anybody expected her to get an Oscar nod).
And while Chris Pratt is only a voice in “The Lego Movie,” he’ll be on hand to represent the biggest omission in the animated-feature category.
2. The Academy doesn’t have hard feelings about the way John Travolta massacred Idina Menzel’s name last year.
Then again, why would the Academy be upset about anything that brought as much attention to the show as Travolta’s inexplicable creation of the name “Adele Dazeem” last year. When you’re measuring your audience in the tens of millions and trying to aggressively push your brand into the social-media arena, anything that meme-worthy is a big plus.
So Travolta will be back as a presenter – and if the “will he screw up another name?” guessing game gets a few more people to pay attention, that’s just fine with the Oscars.
Here’s hoping they let him hand out Best Documentary Feature, just to see what he can do with Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky, Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgago, Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara.
3. Onstage, it’ll be #OscarsNOTSoWhite.
Sure, the Oscars were criticized for having no black acting nominees, but they’ve got lots of black presenters. Of the 44 announced presenters, 13 are people of color: Viola Davis, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Idris Elba, Kevin Hart, Terrence Howard, Dwayne Johnson, Eddie Murphy, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Zoe Saldana, Octavia Spencer, Kerry Washington and Oprah Winfrey.
That’s almost 30 percent, which is a whole lot more than the 0 percent of black acting nominees.
4. The people onstage will be younger than the nominees in the audience, too.
The 44 announced presenters have an average age of 39.7 years, with the youngest being Chloe Grace Mortez at 18 and the oldest Shirley MacLaine at 80.
The acting nominees, by contrast, have an average age of 45.6. At 26, Emma Stone is the youngest; at 84, Robert Duvall is the oldest.
5. There will be lots of music.
There has been lots of music at the previous two shows produced by Zadan and Meron, so it’s no surprise that they’ll be going that route again. But this year they have Neil Patrick Harris, a host who’s a skilled song-and-dance man. That’s a change from the more comedy-oriented Ellen DeGeneres, and they’ve already announced that Harris will be doing a song written for him by the Oscar-winning “Frozen” songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez.
Also on tap: All five of the Best Original Song nominees will be performed on the show, a first for Zadan and Meron. (Their first year as producers, they only had three of the five nominees performed live; their second year, a disqualification meant there were only four nominees.) Those performances will be entrusted to the original artists in four of the five cases: John Legend and Common doing “Glory,” Rita Ora doing “Grateful,” Adam Levine doing “Lost Stars” and Tegan and Sara with the Lonely Island doing “Everything Is Awesome.”
Glen Campbell isn’t well enough to sing his song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” so Tim McGraw will handle that one.
Also read: Lady Gaga to Perform on the Oscars
But the musical portion of the show won’t end with the five songs, because Anna Kendrick, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Gaga and Jack Black will also be performing, though we don’t know what they’ll be doing.
At least one could be part of Neil Patrick Harris’ big number, and another will likely perform live during the In Memoriam sequence, which has always had a live component during Zadan and Meron’s tenure.
The producers also like anniversary celebrations, and we’ve heard murmurs about a tribute to an Oscar-winning musical that is celebrating a significant anniversary in 2015. But it’s probably best to let that one be a surprise.
6. That new song by the Lopezes is called “Moving Pictures.”
Meron called it “a multimedia musical number,” and a cheeky celebration of movies with a musical motif that will recur through the show.
Will it be a rock ‘n’ roll song? Harris’ head writer, Dave Boone, tweeted that the star, whose Twitter handle is @ActuallyNPH, “is ‘actually’ gonna rock the Oscars.”
7. Neil Patrick Harris has a dirty mind.
Not long ago, the Oscar host used Twitter to play a game of Oscar anagrams, presenting the scrambled names of a dozen Oscar-nominated films, actors, actresses and filmmakers. And the guy clearly has a penchant for the sexual, as these anagrams attest:
THROB SEX TOLL
LET SPERM RYE
For the record, that’s “The Boxtrolls,” Adam Levine, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep and Steve Carell, all of whom we trust were amused by what Harris made of their names.
Other Oscar anagrams weren’t quite so graphic: WHOOPEE REINSERTS, TRACHEA DRILL RINK, REEFER ENVY THIGH TOOTHY and MR. DECENT BUTCH CABBIE, for instance.
(If you want to play along, the answers to that batch are at the bottom of this story.)
Of course, the ABC censors probably won’t want Harris to indulge this side of himself, and anagrams aren’t exactly the stuff of live TV. But maybe we should be forewarned: This dude’s thoughts are in the gutter.
8. Don’t expect many Sony hacking jokes.
It might have been the biggest story in the movie business for the last year, but Harris explained on the Jimmy Kimmel show this week that he was happy to see Amy Poehler and Tina Fey make lots of jokes about the Sony hacking scandal when they hosted the Golden Globes – because it gave him a reason to steer clear of that topic, lest the Oscars be seen as treading the same ground as that show.
“I was so happy that Amy and Tina went full North Korea,” he said. “It meant I don’t have to.”
9. Look for presenters in pairs.
Zadan and Meron typically send presenters out as teams, not by themselves. With 43 announced presenters, at least four of which will present solo (last year’s acting winners), and 24 categories plus various performances, most will likely be doubling up this year as well.
As for who’ll be presenting with whom, that’s a secret. But if, say, you want to see a reunion of two of the stars from the 2013 remake of “Carrie” handing out the visual effects Oscar … well, let’s just say that you’re in luck.
10. The show is on ABC.
Of course we already knew this, but some of the bookings reinforced it. Viola Davis? The star of the network’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” airing Thursday nights at 10. Kerry Washington? Lead of ABC’s “Scandal,” drawing big ratings Thursday nights at 9. (And unlike Davis, an actress far better known at this point for television than film.)
So far, we do not believe that Sofia Vergara, Ellen Pompeo or the Bachelor have been booked on the Oscars.
11. There’s lots of other stuff we don’t know.
Last Sunday, Zadan tweeted this: “Honestly there were potential surprises for the show but they were iffy. As of today, they are locked in so they will all happen next Sun!”
(By the way, here are the answers to the Neil Patrick Harris anagrams in No. TK: Reese Witherspoon, Richard Linklater, “The Theory of Everything” and Benedict Cumberbatch.)