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New York Film Festival Begins
September 25, 2015
Harvey Weinstein Arranged Michelle Obama's Best Picture Oscars Surprise
The mogul and his daughter connected the Academy and the show's producers, who flew in secret to Washington, D.C., two weeks ago.
Michelle Obama presenting best picture from the White House? It was Harvey Weinstein's daughter's idea.
According to Academy president Hawk Koch, the plan came from Weinstein and his daughter, Lily. Koch and Oscar show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron loved the idea. Zadan tells The Hollywood Reporter that when it was pitched to the first lady, her response was: "Yes, I think it's a great idea. We watch movies all the time at the White House. Let's do it."
So, two weeks ago, Koch and the producers borrowed Disney's jet for a flight to D.C. They told their colleagues, though, that they had to go to New York for the day. "The planning of it was like Argo -- it was a CIA mission, it was so complicated," Zadan says. "We didn't even want anyone to know where we were going."
Once they arrived, they joined up with Weinstein and his daughter and then they all met with members of the first lady's staff to hammer out the details. The staff took them through the available White House rooms so they could select one for the broadcast. They were asked whether the Obama should appear alone or with a group, and the producers suggested having members of the military join in.
With the White House aboard, Zadan and Meron then approached Jack Nicholson, who had starred in their 2007 film The Bucket List. "We said: 'We have this proposition for you. How would you like to present best picture with Michelle Obama?' " Zadan says. Nicholson immediately signed on.
The Obama appearance was treated like a state secret, known to only a few of those working on the show. It was intentionally kept off the show's run sheets, so it wouldn't leak. On the Friday before the Oscars, the Academy issued a release announcing that Nicholson and Dustin Hoffman would be serving as presenters. The announcement included a statement from Zadan and Meron that said, "Their participation in this year's Oscars completes a list of presenters and performers that truly represents that great breadth and depth of acting talent in film today."
The person seen via satellite on the Oscars show handing her the envelope was Robert Moritz, chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the company tasked with Oscar balloting and tabulation.
Nicholson, who had introduced the first lady from the Dolby Theatre stage in Hollywood, was holding a second envelope with the winner -- in case something went wrong and they lost the connection.
"I loved that we pulled it off," Koch tells THR.
Video via NowThis News.