When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Tuesday that Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh would produce the 93rd Oscars, the organization’s press release included a photo of the three producers.
Collins was dressed in a white shirt and tan blazer in his photo, Sher in a black jacket. And Soderbergh, the filmmaker who won an Oscar for directing 2000’s “Traffic,” wore what appeared to be a lavish silk military-style jacket, complete with epaulets on the shoulders and a jaunty pink beret atop his head.
He looked, essentially, as if he belonged alongside the Beatles on the cover of their classic 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” (In fact, as a reader noted below, he’s pretty much wearing Ringo’s “Sgt. Pepper” outfit.)
And in fact, it’s not the first time Soderbergh has used that particular photo as his publicity shot, or the first time he’s used it in connection with an awards show. The idiosyncratic director of “sex, lies and videotape,” “Contagion” and the “Oceans” movies has been using it for years — including as his official portrait in the Directors Guild Awards program in 2016, when he was nominated for an episode of his Cinemax series “The Knick.”
When I saw it in the program that year, I asked Soderbergh why he was using it. His reply was succinct: “I am the fifth Beatle.” He put the emphasis on the am, for reasons that still elude me.
And now, on the 40th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder, Soderbergh is once again the fifth Beatle.