Image Credit: Bob D’Amico/ABCWe’re less than two weeks from Feb. 27’s Oscars, and producers and writers are now working around the clock to prep the telecast. Promising: Producer Bruce Cohen tells EW the promos we’ve seen of cohosts of Anne Hathaway and James Franco were shot on the first day they met. “That was their instant chemistry that they fell into,” he says, “and we immediately seized on that and are writing it into the opening and the show. They really play very well off of each other. Anne is like this hilarious Type-A overachiever who will just try anything, and James can just kind of look at her, and it’s funny. That’s part of their chemistry, and they’ve been creative collaborators with all of us since the day we brought them on. That was part of the advantage of having two such talented, accomplished, and engaged folks.” Both actors have pitched material to writers and producers that will be part of the show.
Cohen is tight-lipped when asked to describe the opening number, but he did tease that it’s a combination of filmed and live elements, that it will involve “a very exciting and special guest star or two,” and that yes, there will be some singing — which Hathaway proved she can handle in 2009 when host Hugh Jackman invited her onstage. (As for rumors that the hosts will sing a spoof of Little Shop of Horrors’ “Suddenly Seymour,” Cohen says it didn’t make the cut, sadly.)
One promo shows Hathaway and Franco preparing to handle various forms of malfunctions. We asked Cohen and returning writer Bruce Vilanch what each of them are most nervous about at this moment. “We have these highly-complicated scenic transitions that we’re using to tell some of the great moments in film history and Oscar history,” Cohen says. “There are about six or seven times in the show when we’re going to metaphorically leave the stage of the Kodak today, and the stage is gonna transition through lighting, music, sound, and set back to an old movie, a classic performance, an event, a time period. Because of all the elements involved in making those transitions, we’re not gonna actually see one of them on its feet until this Friday or Saturday. I think everyone working on the show thinks it’s a brilliant idea. We’re hoping it’s going to be fantastic. But we won’t really know until Friday or Saturday what we’ve got.” (In most cases, he says, Hathaway and Franco will set up those moments, but the presenters will actually be involved in them before announcing the winners.) As for Vilanch, “I’m terrified that Ernest Borgnine will come dressed as a Black Swan,” he cracks. “He’ll sit there in that audience, and how do you top that?” (“Are you kidding me? Talk about a gift,” Cohen says.)
Asked which of this year’s presenter pairings is proving the trickiest to write for, Vilanch doesn’t hesitate. “Russell Brand and Helen Mirren. When I say that now, it’s funny. But in a few months it won’t be because they’re starring in the remake of Arthur. They’ve already gone on a bunch of talk shows and talked about each other. And you know, Helen is truly no holds barred. She’s wilder than Russell, truth be told. Putting them together on the same stage, she may have to come out with a chair and whip,” Vilanch says. “That’s sounding sort of Cat Woman-ish, which is perfect,” Cohen says, referencing Hathaway’s casting of Selina Kyle in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Says Vilanch, “Actually, I was going more for Siegfried & Roy.”
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