Producing the Oscars has never been an easy gig. The show’s producers are saddled with a slew of awards to give out, many of which don’t include any famous people; they’re always pressured to keep the show short; and the primary reason why audiences tune in — the slate of movies being nominated — is out of their control. But those hurdles didn’t keep producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd from desperately wanting the job.
The duo, who co-chaired the PGA Awards last year, said they lobbied hard for the gig. “We were shameless,” said De Luca, the former president of production of Sony Pictures, who is currently producing the last two films in the Fifty Shades trilogy. “There was no secret that we wanted this. We did everything except take out a billboard on Sunset Blvd. that said, ‘We Want to Produce the Academy Awards.’”
And despite the challenges, the two think they can make the show a fun time for both the audience in the room and those watching from afar.
“We want to infuse the show with our love of cinema and what movies mean to people,” says Jennifer Todd, the current president of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s production company Pearl Street Films. “We think we can have an effect on the mood of the night and make it a fun, joyous night for people.”
De Luca and Todd’s initial job will be to hire an emcee for the evening’s festivities. The pair is open to a variety of hosts but if De Luca had his way, he’d go the comedian route.
“I like funny,” he says. “I think when it’s a funny person or two funny people, when they riff on things, adapt as we roll along and crack great jokes, it makes sure everyone goes home with a smile on their face. Those are the telecasts I remember. That’s what we want to do.”
The upcoming Oscars will be held on Feb. 26, 2017.