Steven Soderbergh has produced indie movies, Hollywood blockbusters, television series, and even a Quibi. But on Tuesday, he landed what could prove to be his most challenging task yet: producer of the forthcoming Academy Awards broadcast.
Soderbergh, Stacey Sher (who worked with Soderbergh on Out of Sight and Contagion), and Jesse Collins (who is also handling production duties on next year’s Grammy Awards and Super Bowl halftime show) were announced as the triumvirate of producers for the 2021 ceremony. It’s the first time the three have been involved with the Oscars in such an intimate capacity.
“The upcoming Oscars is the perfect occasion for innovation and for re-envisioning the possibilities for the awards show. This is a dream team who will respond directly to these times,” said Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson in a statement. “The Academy is excited to work with them to deliver an event that reflects the worldwide love of movies and how they connect us and entertain us when we need them the most.”
Added Soderbergh, Sher, and Collins in a joint statement: “We’re thrilled and terrified in equal measure. Because of the extraordinary situation we’re all in, there’s an opportunity to focus on the movies and the people who make them in a new way, and we hope to create a show that really FEELS like the movies we all love.”
Soderbergh won an Oscar at the 2001 ceremony for directing Traffic. He was previously a nominee at the 1990 ceremony for writing sex, lies, and videotape.
“The show itself is clunky and weird sometimes,” Soderbergh told The Atlantic in an interview published in February of last year, as the Oscars were in the midst of public relations challenges and self-inflicted unforced errors. At the time, Soderbergh said he was sympathetic to the academy’s plight, however, because of all the work the institution did in upholding film history.
Asked in the interview about the Oscars potentially shuffling certain awards off into another broadcast, Soderbergh said, “There was some discussion for a minute about the Oscars doing what the Emmys do—having two ceremonies. Everybody shouted that down and said they would be creating two tiers.”
But, Soderbergh added, it was the idea of an alternate show that piqued his interest. “What I wanted to do was produce that show: We’ll go back to the Roosevelt Hotel, every nominee can bring a plus-one, and that’s it,” he said last year. “Super intimate, food, drink, all that, you can get up there and talk all you want. It’s not televised. It’s a private event for the nominees and their significant others. Make it fun and cool. ’Cause here’s the dirty secret: Going to the big thing is not fun. It’s more fun to watch on TV. The trick would be doing something super cool and small.”
Twenty-six months later, with the coronavirus pandemic having rewritten the expectations around live events, it appears Soderbergh will have a chance to make good on his suggestion. The Oscars are set to take place on April 25, 2021.
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