Oscar Producers Vague on Role of Face Masks, Will Use ‘Satellite Hook-Ups’ for Remote Nominees

Clayton Davis
·3-min read

Oscars producer Steven Soderbergh maintained that masks would play “a very important role in the story” of the 93rd Academy Awards on April 25, but kept the details under wraps.

“If that’s cryptic, it’s meant to be,” Soderbergh said during a Saturday press conference. “That topic is very central to the narrative.”

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Joined with co-producers Jesse Collins and Stacey Sher, the trio took questions about the upcoming ceremony from Union Station in Los Angeles. The producers were vague on the details of the upcoming ceremony, which will be broadcast from multiple locations, including the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Little is known beyond that it will look like “a movie.”

Addressing the no zoom option for the nominees, Soderbergh doubled down, sharing instead that there will be satellite hook-ups. Soderbergh further explained: “We can control that image, we can control the sound, we can make it feel more integrated into the overall feeling of the show. We’ve created another series of technological hurdles for ourselves to make all of these remote satellites and not zooms. So it was never about exclusion. It was about having it feel like it was all part of the piece. That’s all it was.”

In response to a question about how the ceremony will present the film community to viewers, Soderbergh said: “We’re trying to break down this myth that there’s some partition between the actors, who the audience may know by name, and everyone else. This is ultimately a working-class industry, fully unionized. When you look at the credits of a movie, the number of people that are in the cast, compared to everyone else, is minuscule.”

Collins, who produced the recent Grammy Awards, shares his excitement about working with the production team, in which seven of its 14 members are African American. “It was about everybody being open to pulling in the best possible people. ABC and everybody were open to new faces,” Collins said.

He also praised the Academy’s decision last year to delay the ceremony by two months, saying if it had stayed in its originally scheduled date in February, “it would have been impossible.”

Sher, who worked with Soderbergh on “Contagion” and has an impressive Hollywood resume in both film and television, hopes that the ceremony will show the people watching, “if you love film, there’s a place for you, even if you’re not going to be an actor or actress.” She also sees this Oscar gig as a “reaffirmation of our love and commitment to what we do.”

Soderbergh, who took home an Oscar for directing “Traffic” (2000), reminisced about his shocking win in response to a question about his winning moment. “First of all, I was drunk, and that’s not a lie,” he bluntly shared. At the 2001 ceremony, he was also best picture-nominated for “Erin Brockovich,” but he believed he wasn’t going to win. “Suddenly, Tom Cruise is handing me this thing, and I’m going, what is happening?” Soderbergh said, adding: “This year, we’re encouraging them [the nominees] to tell a story and to say something personal.”

This year’s crop of nominees is the most diverse in Oscar history, with nine of the 20 acting nominees consisting of people of color. There are multiple opportunities for history to be made in several categories, with potential frontrunners such as Yuh-Jung Youn (“Minari”), Chloe Zhao (“Nomadland”) and the late Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”).

The 93rd Oscars will be held April 25 at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT from Union Station Los Angeles and the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood and international locations via satellite.

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