The Academy Announces Theme, Creative Team for Governors Ball

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From left: Wolfgang Puck, Jeffrey Kurland, Cheryl Cecchetto

"The unique design of the space has been meticulously created to celebrate Oscar gold," said Governors Ball chair Jeffrey Kurland.

"Magical transformation."

That's the theme of this year's Governors Ball, just one of a number of details announced Friday about the exclusive post-Oscar celebration that will follow the 89th annual Academy Awards on Feb. 26. Academy governor Jeffrey Kurland, event producer Cheryl Cecchetto and master chef Wolfgang Puck — all Governors Ball veterans — are back on board this year to help create the entire evening for the 1,500 invited guests who will party inside the Ray Dolby Ballroom on the top level of the Hollywood & Highland Center.

As the chair of the Governors Ball, Kurland has his hands in everything, overseeing decor, menu and entertainment planning as well as staff attire, all of which are details he's familiar with after serving as chair for eight years. Outside of Oscar night, Kurland has worked as a costume designer on such films as Hannah and Her Sisters, Radio Days, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven, Inception, Beautiful Creatures, Tomorrowland and, most recently, Ghostbusters. He received an Oscar nomination for Bullets Over Broadway.

"As they enter the Ball, guests will transition from a dazzling sea of red to a tricolor motif of eye-popping gold and red on an infinite blanket of white," Kurland said in a statement. "The unique design of the space has been meticulously created to celebrate Oscar gold."

Meanwhile, Cecchetto and her Sequoia Prods. team are back for a 28th consecutive year producing the Governors Ball. Her crew works closely with Kurland to manage many of those details, including decor, entertainment, food and staff. Sequoia's roster of clients includes the Television Academy, G’Day USA, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Westfield and the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay.

Close to Cecchetto's long-running mark is Puck, who is back for a 23rd consecutive Oscar night. Known to set the stage with a Governors Ball menu that pairs "Hollywood glamour with culinary whimsy," Puck will create more than 50 dishes — one-bite hors d’oeuvres to small-plate entrees — working with Eric Klein, the new Wolfgang Puck Catering executive chef.

Governors Ball attendees will be pleased to know what's new this year: Moroccan-spiced Wagyu short rib topped with a parmesan funnel cake; taro root tacos with shrimp, mango, avocado and chipotle aioli; gnocchetti with braised mushrooms and cashew cream; lobster corn dogs; made-to-order sushi, custom poke bowls and an array of shellfish; plus a selection of Puck’s signature dishes including smoked salmon Oscars, chicken pot pie with shaved black truffles and baked macaroni and cheese.

The pastry team of Kamel Guechida, Monica Ng and Jason Lemmonier are handling a dessert menu that features "innovative and playful desserts served at multiple dessert stations, plus the ultimate dessert buffet featuring Puck’s sought-after 24-karat-gold chocolate Oscars," the Academy announcement continued.

That much food, drink and dessert requires a healthy staff. Wolfgang Puck Catering CEO Carl Schuster will direct more than 900 event members through the evening’s detailed logistics to offer what is said to be "a true restaurant-style hospitality experience." That's true, if said restaurant included many famous Hollywood-types toting their newest accessory: a shiny gold Oscar.

The 89th Oscars are set to be held Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland and will be televised live on ABC beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.  

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