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The changes include:
— Moms of Oscar Nominees: To truly humanize the Oscars, the producers enlisted nine moms and one grandmom (Franco’s) to follow along the telecast on their Twitter accounts. Otherwise known as Mominees — don’t expect impartial tweets.
— The Dynamic Hosts: Hathaway, 28, and Franco, 32, are two of the youngest hosts to front the Oscars. Their youth will invite the viewers along for the ride. “They are not untouchable, they are not unreachable,” Cohen tells THR. “We hope they will offer the audience a way in.”
— Two Hosts, Two Sexes: There has never been a male-female duo who physically shared the same Oscar stage in the history of the broadcasts. Although plenty of actresses have shared emcee duties, they’ve all been part of tag-team groups of three- or four-host combos. Other opposite-sex hosts have been part of bicoastal telecasts — with one in New York and one in Los Angeles. So having a male-female duo interacting in person would be a genuine first.
— Virtual Reality Set: The producers abandoned the idea of a traditional set altogether to enter a world of virtual reality via a series of “projections” designed to give the show a constantly-changing look. The virtual end goal is for Franco and Hathaway to take viewers on a trip through Hollywood history with six or seven scenic transitions. “The hope is that we briefly leave the Kodak in 2011 — not literally but metaphorically — and take the audience,” says Cohen.
— One Entire School Choir: The P.S. 22 Chorus, an elementary school chorus from Staten Island, N.Y., will make a joyous musical appearance on the show. The kids will sing “Over the Rainbow.” Says Cohen, “This year you get to see what it would be like to be a 10-year-old and to get to perform on the Oscars.”
— No Movie Montages: The directors have jettisoned this familiar element — like last year’s salute to horror films. These have added to the show’s seemingly endless running time. There will still be clips from the 10 best picture nominees and brief filmed introductions to certain segments.
— The Five-Presenter Testimonial: Gone, too, will be the relatively new tradition, established just two years ago, of using five presenters to offer testimonials about each of the best actor and actress nominees. “We’re not going to do that this year,” Cohen confirms.
— The Return of Nominated Song Performances: The producers decided to reinstitute a tradition that was scrapped last year: individual performances of the four nominated songs. Randy Newman will perform his “We Belong Together,” from Toy Story 3; Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, who sang the duet “I See the Light” on the Tangled soundtrack, will reteam with composer Alan Menken; and Gwyneth Paltrow, who sings “Coming Home” in Country Strong, will reprise it. Because Dido, who was nominated with Rollo Armstrong and A.R. Rahman for “If I Rise” from 127 Hours, was not available, the producers have drafted Florence Welch from Florence + the Machine to appear with Rahman.
For more of this story and a Q&A with Hathaway and Franco, pick up a copy of The Hollywood Reporter magazine on newsstands Thursday.
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