Oscar opening to involve singing, 'a special guest star or two,' teases producer

franco-hathaway-oscarsImage 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.”

More on the Oscars:
EW’s Oscar Central
Dave Karger’s latest Oscar predictions
10 Best Picture Winners That Should Have Lost

Comments (28 total) Add your comment
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  • Brandon

    I bet its Glee

    • Che

      That would be awesome! But it’s unlikely…

    • Will

      i actually think it’s likely, bu not awesome

      • Tye-Grr


    • LOL

      These two will be great. High hopes from the show.

      • Jethro

        I hope they go back to having 5 previous winners from the category present the 5 nominees, talking about why they were nominated.

        It was a brilliant move that should be done again!

    • Dave

      I hope not. The Glee cast is way too overexposed. Plus, they already did a Glee thing for the opening at the Emmys. So I doubt it.

  • Michael

    Great. Less than two weeks to go before all these naval gazing luvey fests are over for another year. What a bore.

    • jodipo


  • orville

    They do have a lot of chemistry. I wonder how many scripts for romantic comedies they’ve already been sent?

    And, sure, Helen Mirren is viewed as a classy grand dame of film now, but people forget she appeared in “Caligula.” Granted, so did John Gielgud and Peter O’Toole, but they weren’t naked for most of their time on screen.

    • Jon

      Yeah, any nudity whatsoever is repulsive.

  • sp

    It will be Hugh Jackman joining Anne & James Franco because it was announced that Jackman is a presentor.

  • sp

    Hugh & Anne will have a reunion duet.

  • keith

    It sounds like a great show. Love the idea of the set changes evoking previous winners or performances. Can’t wait!

  • PFitz

    Ohhhhhhh….two words have just doomed the telecast: Bruce. Vilanch. I’m not saying he’s not an able comedian. But as a long-time Oscar watcher, his jokes have been the broadest, dumbest, corniest, rudest, most offensive and most unfunny in the history of the show. The promos have been cute and I like Hathaway and Franco, but I don’t think that we can hope for the engaging wit and wordplay of Steve and Alec from last year. Bummer.

    • danw

      thank you. every time, i see his name, i cringe. they want to make the oscars different? stop hiring the same people.

  • Lena120

    What happened to a comedic monologue? Or maybe both? That’s the one thing I didn’t like about Jackman’s hosting (and I LOVE Jackman).

  • GardenGuy

    I bet that teaser from the producers will garner them all of half a dozen more viewers. Wow, singing, guest stars, scenes from movies…haven’t seen that more than a few hundred times on the Oscars. Screams original. “Let’s tease with that!” The hosts may have written a few lines that will make it into the show but they aren’t comedians and aren’t likely to bring in viewers to hear their own comedy. You want light funny hosts then hire light funny people not comedic actors who have to rely on a bevy of off-camera writers to make them palatable.

  • D

    Show longer clips of nominated performances and films. I hate how they usually show like 10 second clips.

  • Laura

    No one can beat the Oscar openings Billy Crystal did. I wish HE could come back and host!

  • sp

    Laura, sorry, but Hugh Jackman’s opening was beyond better than any opening by Billy Crystal or any other Oscar host.

  • fancypants

    Bruce Vilanch is going to write Oscar material AGAIN this year? UGH. I hope Tina Fey and Steve Carrell host together sometime in the future.

  • Strepsi

    If anyone from the Oscars is reading this, I love Franco and Hathaway, so anything is fine except:

    After the overdose of montages the last several years, I honestly hate them now. Plus, if the idea is to introduce viewers to key moments of Hollywood history, IF YOU HAVE MONTAGES TELL US WHAT THE MOVIES ARE IN THEM!

    That is all, thank you.

  • Sue Sylvester

    Mounting anything in Los Angeles is still putting sh*t in a skillet and expecting it not to smell like Long Beach.

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