Ahead of Sunday’s Oscars telecast, expectations were running high for what producers Glenn Weiss and Donna Gigliotti would have in store for a year in which unexpected complications threatened to derail the show. EW caught up with Weiss at the Governors Ball after the ceremony, where he was finally enjoying a drink with his fiancée and being congratulated by attendees saying it was a “great show.”
Keegan-Michael Key, who floated onto the Oscars stage with an umbrella to introduce Bette Midler’s performance of “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” from Mary Poppins Returns, stopped to praise Weiss and told EW he thought the show “had a really nice pace tonight, and I thought it went really well. I thought the award winners were spread out, it felt like a nice effect.”
The Academy Awards telecast this year saw some significant changes after last year’s show drew the lowest ratings in Oscars history, with 26.5 million viewers. After Kevin Hart stepped down from hosting the Oscars following backlash over old homophobic tweets, the show went ahead without a host. With pressure from ABC to keep to a tight three hours, organizers said four awards would be handed out during commercial breaks, but a backlash from the film industry led to the decision being reversed, and all 24 awards were handed out live on air.
After all the winners were announced and performances wrapped, Weiss took a few minutes to reflect on the night with EW.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Expectations were riding high this year, so how were you feeling as the curtains went up?
GLENN WEISS: I felt excited going into the show because I knew what was in store. You didn’t, but I did. Honestly, opening the way we opened and then just sliding right into the show, giving out an award in the first seven minutes, it really set the tone for what was a fun night, in my opinion.
This year threw curveballs your way after losing your host and facing backlash against trying to move certain awards categories to the commercial breaks. How did that feel, and how did you take that on?
What we do is roll with the punches and the curveballs. When the nominations come out, your rundown isn’t final, and any show you do, things keep changing. The level of intensity may have been a little higher here, but that’s what we do as producers: roll with the change.
It was disappointing not to see Kendrick Lamar and SZA perform their Oscar-nominated song “All The Stars,” from Black Panther, the only song in that category to not be performed on the stage. What happened there?
We tried really hard all the way through Monday this week, actually, and it just couldn’t come together. Kendrick was out of the country and doing other things, and it’s all cool. It was a great show, and there was a lot of fun music in it.
What was your highlight from the show?
My highlight is standing here at the Governors Ball, relieved. Very relieved! There were so many for me: I loved the Queen number, I loved [Key as] Mary Poppins coming down, I loved the interaction between Barbra Streisand and Spike [Lee], it was just such a different thing. That’s what I liked about the show, that it was full of moments.
Any moment you were nervous about?
There was nothing to worry about per se. We had a lot of really big setups and band changes, and the L.A. Philharmonic had 64 pieces. There was a lot of movement on that stage, so making the turnarounds and getting right to the next thing, [you’re] always a little nervous. But when you have a team of professionals like we have here, you don’t worry too much.
Anything you feel like you learned from this show specifically?
Not on the producing side, but on the directing side, I took a different take on it. I did a lot of presenters talking to cameras that were moving; it was beautiful, beautiful television. I’m proud of it, and I hope it’s received well, and it’s something I’d certainly like to do again.
Will you be looking for those telecast ratings first thing tomorrow, or are you signing off the Oscars now?
There’s nothing we can do at this point. I’m hoping — sure, I’m hoping, but who knows?
[Note: ABC said Monday morning that early Oscars ratings clocked in at 29.6 million viewers, a bump of 3.1 million compared to the 2018 telecast.]