Will Oscar Telecast Hit Its 3-Hour Target? "No," Says Producer

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With no host, the first award is expected to be handed out several minutes earlier in the show.

The Oscar telecast most certainly won't come in at three hours after all, says a producer of the show.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences said in August that it was implementing changes in an effort to increase ratings and address critics who've said that the show is too long and boring.

To that end, the organization said it would be presenting four of the categories during commercial breaks and airing edited footage of the winners' speeches later in the show. But officials reversed course on that plan Friday after outcry from numerous groups in Hollywood, from stars to agencies to various guilds.

But on Sunday, The New York Times posted a story featuring comments from the show's lead producer, Donna Gigliotti, who'd been asked if she could still bring the show in at three hours: "The answer was no," she told the news outlet.

Gigliotti added that she isn't stressed: "Any producer worth her salt is used to these kinds of things. You find a new way. We were hired to deliver a shortened show. How do we do that so you're not seeing award, award, commercial, award, commercial, award? So boring."

Still, having no host will help cut the time down, she said, with the first award now expected to be handed out at around six or seven minutes into the show, compared with roughly 18 minutes last year. However, Gigliotti and Glenn Weiss, who is co-producing and directing the telecast, wouldn't give details on the show's opening, saying only they have a "very strong plan," according to Weiss. (The 2018 Oscars ran three hours and 53 minutes.)

The four categories that were revealed earlier this month that would be presented off-air were cinematography, live-action short film, editing and makeup and hairstyling. On Wednesday, an open letter to the Academy and Gigliotti and Weiss was posted, calling on the Academy to reverse its plans. It has since been signed by more than 200 cinematographers, 75 directors including Martin Scorsese, Alfonso Cuaron and Spike Lee; 80 actors, including Bradley Copper, Glenn Close and Emma Stone; as well as members of other branches such as producers, editors and VFX supervisors. Meanwhile, additional statements were released by American Cinema Editors, International Cinematographers Guild (Local 600), Motion Picture Editors Guild (Local 700), IATSE and cinematography festival Camerimage.

The original plan to cut presentation of some categories from the live show was revealed in August, along with the introduction of a new category, the "popular film" Oscar — another idea that was later abandoned after critics questioned such aspects as the criteria that would be used to qualify a film for such an award.

Gigliotti and Weiss also revealed some other plans for the show: the eight best picture nominees will be presented via brief moments — by famous folks outside of Hollywood — throughout the telecast, instead of during a several-minutes-long montage, as was the case last year (they revealed that Serena Williams will present the one for A Star Is Born).

Gigliotti added that a major theme of the show will be inclusion, while another will be "about movies connecting us — not in this theater but in a big, sweeping, cultural way."

Meanwhile, the stage — designed by David Korins (Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen) — will be dominated by the color gold, with "curves and swoops like a Frank Gehry building, extending out into the theater," as the Times described it.

"We wanted it to feel different," Weiss said. Added Gigliotti: "It almost comes out and hugs you."

The 91st Annual Academy Awards airs Feb. 24 on ABC.