Oscars Producer Gives A Ceremony Post-Mortem

I'm always fascinated by the stories behind the pageantry of Hollywood (like this story about the convoy of limos carrying celebrities to the Oscar ceremony last weekend), so when I heard that KCRW's The Business would have an exclusive interview with Oscars producer Bill Mechanic, I knew it would be a must-listen. Mechanic produced this year's Academy Awards ceremony along with Adam Shankman. Hit the jump for some behind-the-scenes tidbits about the ceremony.

I don't think this interview disappoints, as Mechanic is frank about what he feels were his successes and failures. Among the details that Mechanic provides:

  • Mechanic insists that, contrary to press reports, this ceremony was different than years past. Example: The order of the awards.
  • Mechanic believes that "The only negatives we got were from the media."
  • Mechanic wanted the ceremony to transcend being "just an awards show," but felt he did not succeed. Bizarrely, he invokes Taken as a movie that transcended the action movie genre as a point of comparison.  (I do agree, though, that the Oscars could have done with a lot more more ass-kicking).
  • Neil Patrick Harris's opening number was originally supposed to be a duet with Martin Short. Unfortunately, Martin Short got sick and could not perform the number. According to Mechanic, "It made less sense to people who didn't know that somebody else was supposed to be in the number with him." Looking back on it...yes, this changes the meaning of those lyrics entirely!
  • A major pre-taped segment, which took three months to film, was cut the night before the ceremony. It featured previous Oscar winners discussing what winning the award meant to them. Audio clips of this can be heard in the interview below.
  • Mechanic specifically chose not to play off that wacky red-headed woman, because "I think that's what TV's about, so to me, it's no big deal."
  • My feelings towards the ceremony overall were not very positive, but it was impossible for me to listen to this interview and not develop an appreciation for Mechanic's work. Producing the Oscars requires pouring your entire life into one night, only to have the fruit of your labor completely crapped upon by the media (including sites like ours). Nonetheless, Mechanic says if given the opportunity, he'd do it again (!).

    You can listen to the entire episode after the break. The interview with Bill Mechanic begins at 6:00 in.