This year's Oscars are being touted as "The Biggest Movie Event of the Year" in ads running on ABC, a trailer directed by the Oscar-nominated John Singleton ("Boyz N the Hood"), and both online and in print. Can the show live up to all this hype?
First-time Oscar-cast producers Bill Condon and Larry Mark's last collaboration was "Dreamgirls" — the 2006 socko stage-to-screen adaptation of a 25-year-old Broadway musical — so this dynamic duo has proven they can inject new life into an old show. As details continue to be revealed, we know the following:
• There will be a red carpet — despite rumors to the contrary — filled with many of this year's nominees and guests. However, certain star presenters will skip that stroll so they can sneak in the back door and make a surprise appearance later onstage at the Kodak Theatre. But it's no surprise that some of the hottest stars of today will be there — Robert Pattinson and Vanessa Hudgens ("Twilight"), Zac Efron ("High School Musical"), Miley Cyrus ("Hannah Montana"), Amanda Seyfried ("Mamma Mia!") and Beyonce Knowles. Their appearances were leaked in the last few days.
• Host Hugh Jackman will appear in a musical number staged by his "Australia" director Baz Luhrmann. And no worries on that front — Jackman won the 2004 Tony Award for playing singer-songwriter Peter Allen (himself a 1982 Oscar winner for his work on the theme for "Arthur"). Jackman also picked up an Emmy in 2005 for hosting that 2004 Tony-cast (he also emceed that show in '03 and '05).
• The stage has been completely reconfigured by the building's architect, David Rockwell, to evoke a nightclub, with the orchestra as a backdrop, a circular platform extending out into the theater and the audience grouped around this. The set, such as it is, will evolve through the evening, with changes being made on camera. "The look of the theater is very different," Hugh Jackman told the Associated Press. "It's more like the nightclub of your dreams. It's very intimate."
• The two dozen awards, along with the honorary Oscar to Jerry Lewis, will be presented in the context of a story that involves both the presenters and the nominees. Not sure what that means, but it sounds intriguing enough. So don't expect the usual scenario: one of the supporting awards bestowed in the first half-hour, followed by a long drought till the usual deluge of top awards in the last half-hour.
• Funnyman Bruce Vilanch — who has a pair of Emmys for helping write the 1991 and 1992 Oscarcasts — has been upped from mere gagmeister to serious contributor.
• And, finally, studios will get to showcase upcoming releases — such as the latest "Harry Potter" — in 10-second spots that will run on a split screen with the end credits.