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THR: What will be different about this year’s telecast?
Mechanic: There’s a lot different. We’d like to make it more surprising and expect fans will notice dramatic differences. What [fellow producer] Adam Shankman and I have done in terms of composing the show is to “expect the unexpected.” The stage, the presenters, the hosts, the performances. Everything will have a bit of that. We’re not trying to do “tried and true,” but not so radical that people will think we’ve abandoned them. If you’re a fan of these shows, I think it will be one of the best Oscar telecasts ever.
THR: What elements have the Oscars had in previous years that you’re trying to get away from?
Mechanic: It was a little stuffy and playing to an effete audience. We want it to be funnier. And awards only mean something if you make people reflect about what the awards mean to them. It’s a show that will be filled with with humor and emotion.
THR: The Grammys were marvelously produced and had double-digit ratings gains over last year. Does that add some pressure?
Mechanic: No, only if we produce the Grammys next year. They have five awards and have like 20 performances. It’s completely different. We’re pretty positive this is a great year to be doing this. Maybe for the first time in a decade the audience will know most of these movies.
THR: I heard you’re trying to increase the amount of music in the show?
Mechanic: Not trying to increase it. We look at this as a film-centric show. The biggest names in our business are movies. Performance numbers have to be organic to the show or it feels like you’re being desperate.
THR: With 10 best picture nominees, is there going to be as much time as usual devoted to showcasing each title throughout the show?
Mechanic: I think actually more. We consider that one of the great pieces in the show that people tune in for.
THR: What was your reaction to when you saw this morning that popular films like “Avatar,” “Up,” “District 9” and “Inglourious Basterds” made the best picture list?
Mechanic: I only thought one thing: They made the right choice with “Coraline.”
THR: I didn’t expect the Oscar producer to be funny. Can you expand on that thought?
Mechanic: The 10 choices made voters think about not being exclusionary and elitist. I think every movie in there is a high quality movie. Maybe we can even help “Avatar.”
THR: You would think such choices will have a positive impact on the ratings.
Mechanic: I would think so. This is the first show in more than a decade the audience will have a rooting interest in more than half the films. Nobody knows who’s going to win with 10 nominees and that’s great for the show.
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