Oscars Producers Tease a Night of 'Living Legends' at the 90th Academy Awards
When the Oscars get underway on Sunday, all eyes will be on Jimmy Kimmel and the dozens of glamorous A-listers who take centerstage over the course of the night. But backstage will be two stars in their own right: show producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd.
Returning for a second year, the creative duo are thrilled to re-team with Kimmel for the Academy Awards’ 90th anniversary and bring their unique vision to Hollywood’s biggest night. De Luca and Todd took a break from last-minute Oscars preparations to chat with PEOPLE.
So, how are you guys doing?
Jennifer: We’re excited! We’ve been working on this for many months so it’s very fun to be in the home stretch.
Mike: We’re the proper mix of anxious and excitement as we get closer.
What’s the vision for this year’s show?
Jennifer: Since it’s the 90th (anniversary), we’re really taking a moment to look back and reflect on the amazing 90 years of movies, as well as looking forward at what’s to come in the celebration of film.
How will that be reflected on stage?
Mike: Jen and I changed the format of the show a little bit to make room for additional clip packages – we looove clip reels…we could literally sit there and watch 100 of them a day. One of the ways the show will honor the anniversary is to show clip reels with certain themes and we’re also trying to put as many living legends on the stage as possible at different points in the show to honor the legacy. The anniversary theme is a big theme for us. There’s also an effort to thank the moviegoer and have gratitude also be a thematic part of the show, all tying into 90 years of people going to the movies.
Are you haunted by memories of last year’s envelope snafu?
Jennifer: I don’t think we’re haunted…I really don’t think Mike and I are as worried about the envelopes…it would really be crazy if anything [like that] happened [this year], but we are more aware that unexpected moments can happen on a live show. I don’t think it will be envelope-related but who knows what else it could be! We couldn’t have imagined that (envelope mix-up) before it happened, so you never know.
Will the PriceWaterhouse accountants get their moment in the spotlight?
Jennifer: Oh, I think they’re all fair game for Jimmy.
Will they keep a lower profile than usual?
Mike: Even apart from the [envelope] mishap last year, Jen and I decided we didn’t think a PriceWaterhouse moment on stage fit the show we were doing – and it doesn’t fit the show this year.
What is it about Jimmy that made you ask him back to host?
Jennifer: We just think Jimmy tonally understands the show so well. We had talked last year about Bob Hope and what makes a great Oscar host, and what’s great about Jimmy is he really understands the tone of the show, he’s friends with a lot of the people in the audience, he knows what a big night this is for a lot of these artists, the biggest night of their lives – so he knows how to be funny but respectful at the same time and we think he has mass appeal for the TV audience — and he’s a fantastic guy to work with. Mike and I love him.
There are huge issues facing the country right now – from gun violence to #MeToo moment. Will you touch on that?
Jennifer: We’re very supportive of TimesUp, and we’re very supportive, both Mike and I, of the movement to create safer and equal work environments. Social causes have been prominent on the Oscars for years, so we’ve been talking to TimesUp and trying to craft a moment or two that makes sense on the show. Obviously the show is a long entertainment show and it’s mostly there to celebrate movies and the people (for whom) this night is extraordinary. But yes, we plan on paying respect and touching on it during the show.
Will you provide any snacks to the crowd, like last year’s candy-filled parachutes?
Mike: There is a plan to have food available. Different than the parachutes and probably not even on air, but people will get fed in the audience!
Did the fact that it’s the 90th anniversary naturally lend itself to mixing things up with who’s presenting?
Mike: We started from a place of wanting to create room for shout-outs to the 90th anniversary and we did discuss changing things up a little bit to get more legendary people and people with storied histories that reflect the 90 years of Oscars on that stage.
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Did you hold onto any keepsakes from the show last year?
Mike: I have a picture of Jen and I together backstage that I’ll treasure forever.
Jennifer: That’s so nice!…I would love to steal an Oscar but it’s really the memories of the night we take with us, to sound corny, but it’s true.
What’s the first thing you’ll do when show ends?
Mike: I owe my children dessert. They’re going to be in the audience, and I know my daughter and my son will immediately want a treat — it’s probably going to be ice cream with M&Ms on top. I’ll probably be feeding them that and having some myself.
Jennifer: …and I will have a glass of champagne!
The 2018 Oscars ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4 and will be televised live on ABC at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. Watch People & Entertainment Weekly Red Carpet Live this Sunday, March 4 at 5pm ET/2pm PT. Download the PeopleTV app on your favorite mobile or connected TV device, or stream the show on People.com, EW.com, Twitter, Facebook Live and YouTube Live.