"Fun" is a word that Oscars producer Will Packer uses a lot. That's been the "Think Like a Man" filmmaker's reply when asked what to expect from this year's Academy Awards broadcast, which he's producing for the first time.
Not handing out several awards live has gotten the most attention (and angered many voters) but the show, which will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, will look different in several ways. Packer says he has surprises up his sleeve but here's what we know will happen on the broadcast, which airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on KSTP, Ch. 5, and several streaming services, including YouTube.
The first thing audiences will notice is the trio of hosts, two primarily known as comedians (Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes) and one who's a very funny actor (Regina Hall). All have made movies — Hall should have been an Oscar nominee for "Support the Girls" — so they make more sense than once-rumored Selena Gomez, a TV/music star who has barely set foot on a movie soundstage. The reason for the trio? Packer said his show needs multiple hosts to keep up the energy and establish a mysterious, "movie-like" flow.
History has shown hosts' success depends on whether their material sings (Chris Rock, who will be back as a presenter this year) or sucks (Anne Hathaway/James Franco). This Oscar show is using Rock's head writer, Jon Macks, and a team of old and new talents, so maybe we'll be spared the spectacle of presenters Rosie Perez or Tiffany Haddish grimacing at the material they have to read off cue cards before handing out awards?
We will talk about Bruno
The surprise No. 1 hit from "Encanto" is "We Don't Talk About Bruno." Although "Encanto" is a contender for the animated feature prize, the song isn't nominated because producers instead submitted "Dos Oruguitas," also by Lin-Manuel Miranda. But the allure of a smash proved inescapable for the show, which booked the movie cast to do "Bruno." Presumably, we'll also hear "Oruguitas," since producers plan to showcase the nominated songs, including offerings from Billie Eilish and Beyoncé. The latter is reportedly in talks to perform her "King Richard" song via satellite from a tennis court in Compton, Calif., where the movie's Williams family lived.
Case of the lost Oscars
No, this isn't about Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. It's the eight awards — film editing, production design, sound, makeup and hairstyling, original score, animated short film, live-action short film, documentary short subject — which will be presented prior to the telecast. We'll get taped highlights of those winners' speeches but the Oscar thinking is that viewers won't miss categories that were always an excuse to zip to the kitchen for a wine top-off.
The controversial trophy-trimming will make room for performances and comedy bits, since Packer wants the show to be less about awards and more about entertainment, like the Grammy Awards have become. That's also the thinking behind the selection of presenters, which will include Oscar royalty such as Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Kaluuya and Rami Malek but also musicians Shawn Mendes and DJ Khaled, as well as athletes Shaun White and Kelly Slater.
Clips. Clips package.
In an effort to offset the relative obscurity of some nominees, look for tributes to fan favorites, including the James Bond series, which produced "No Time to Die" last year, and the "Godfather" series, which is marking the first film's 50th anniversary.
Reactions have been mixed so it's unclear how much the broadcast will focus on this but moviegoers had a chance to pick their winner (voting closed more than a week ago). The idea is to make sure top-grossing films get broadcast attention, and last year's most popular movie, "Spider-Man: No Way Home," seems to be a likely recipient.
Participants dolled up for last year's low-key Oscar ceremony but there was no real red carpet. It's back this year in expanded coverage from ABC beginning at 5:30 p.m., with arrivals showing off their gowns and name-checking designers. Want more lewks? E network starts camping out on the red carpet at 1 p.m.
94th Academy Awards
When: 7 p.m. Sunday on ABC and streaming services.
Pre-Oscars: On ABC, "Countdown to the Oscars," noon-3 p.m.; "On the Red Carpet Live" starts at 5:30 p.m. On E network, "Brunch at the Oscars," 1-4 p.m.; "E! Live from the Red Carpet" starts at 4 p.m.