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Academy Awards producers hoping to make show more immersive

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Academy Awards producers hoping to make show more immersive
Preparations are underway for the Academy Awards in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on March 24, 2022. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, March 25 (UPI) -- Producers of Sunday's Academy Awards telecast hope to make the show feel more like a movie, with shifting backdrops, and to immerse the winners into the audience by moving parts of the stage into the seating.

"One of the words that kept coming up was kinetic," producer Will Packer said at a Thursday news conference. "What we're going for is this feeling of a show that continuously changes, just like a movie."

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Production designer David Korins described the new set for the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.

"We've pushed the winner's circle, some of the performers and presenters out into the audience literally," Korins said. "So the people who are accepting awards, presenting awards and hosting our fine show will be literally engulfed by the audience and their peers."

Korins said he designed scenery with built-in lights for these effects as a symbolic hope of light emitting for the future. Korins said his designs required director Glenn Weiss to devise new ways to film the show for broadcast.

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"Flying cameras, tracking cameras, we have literally stepped into the future with some of this stuff," Korins said. "We are kitchen sinking this thing."

Music director Adam Blackstone will conduct the Oscar orchestra with a traditional score. Blackstone said he is adding musical styles to the orchestra.

"I have some funk being played in the orchestra, I have some hip-hop, I have some pop songs that are featured," Blackstone said.

Blackstone has also assembled an All Star Band for one segment. The band includes himself, Robert Glasper, Travis Barker and Sheila E with additional guests to be announced.

Packer came under fire when he announced plans to present eight awards in the hour before the live show begins airing. Those awards will be taped and played on the air.

Weiss said it's possible one of those winners will use their speech to criticize the producers for relegating them to a pre-taped segment. However, Weiss said he's confident winners will feel respected.

"The word is respectful," Weiss said. "We're just here to respect and honor."

The telecast will also feature the presentation of the Fan Favorite Award. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences asked Twitter users to vote for their favorite movie of the year.

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Movies like Amazon's Cinderella, the Netflix original Army of the Dead and the blockbuster Spider-Man: No Way Home are the top voted on titles. The Academy has considered an official Popular Film Oscar in the past but has never gone through with it.

Packer said he and partner Shayla Cowan wanted to include the perspective of fan favorites in the show. Packer would not specify how the award would be presented on Sunday, but cleared up some misconceptions.

"I've heard some talk about the Twitter Oscar as if we're going to have a random Twitter user hand an Oscar to Meryl Streep," Packer said. "That's not what's happening."

For all the changes Packer is making to this year's Oscars telecast, he is reverting to tradition in one regard. After last year's show presented Best Actor after Best Picture, Packer is returning Best Picture to the final category of the night.

"Yes, the Best Picture category will end our night this year," Packer said.

Packer's telecast will also include montages of clips from the history of cinema, as in past telecasts. Packer mentioned tributes to The Godfather and James Bond as potential clip packages on Sunday.

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"I think that the best version of this show is something that is an amazing award show," Packer said. "And a show that is wildly entertaining to people that love cinema whether you've seen all the [nominated] movies or none of the movies."

After three years of presenting the Oscars with no host, Sunday's show will have three: Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes. Sykes said they may make fun of the nominees, but won't totally roast them.

"It's going to not mean spirited because none of us are mean spirited," Sykes said. "But we're going to have some fun."

Sunday's show will also take a moment to acknowledge world events, including the war in Ukraine, Packer said. Packer did not announce specific plans, but said there was a place for reflection within the celebration.

"[We] find a way to respectfully acknowledge where we are and how fortunate we are to even be able to put on this show," Packer said.

The Oscars will air 8 p.m. EDT on ABC.

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