Oscar's invisibility cloak is off: Radcliffe joins show
05:00 AM, Feb 07, 2013
Harry Potter has finally broken into the Oscars ceremony.
Daniel Radcliffe, who played the boy wizard in the eight-film fantasy franchise, will star in a special segment at the 85th Academy Awards, marking his first appearance at the show.
Radcliffe will join Charlize Theron, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Channing Tatum and other stars on the Feb. 24 broadcast (ABC, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT), say show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
While Tatum and Gordon-Levitt also will be making their first Oscars appearances, it’s especially momentous for Radcliffe: His Potter films dominated the box office from 2001 to 2011 and were nominated 12 times but never won an Oscar.
“We were bewildered,” says Zadan. “How can you have the biggest franchise in motion-picture history, Harry Potter, and yet no one has ever been on the Oscars? (It) was strange to us.”
Zadan and Meron have a long history with productions that feature music and a recent association with Radcliffe: They are executive producers of the NBC series Smash and produced a revival of the Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which starred Radcliffe in 2011-12. Zadan says “music in movies” will be a theme of the Oscars, but he won’t reveal what roles the stars will play.
“We want people to guess what are they going to be doing. We’re just not saying,” he says. “But it will be a substantial bite. It’s a big deal.”
Oscar producers in past years have kept a tight lid on advance announcements, preferring to preserve the surprises for what is annually one of TV’s most-watched shows (39.3 million U.S. viewers in 2012). Zadan and Meron have made a few strategic announcements for this year’s show, including a James Bond tribute, Adele singing Skyfall, and the first performance by Barbra Streisand on an Oscars broadcast in 36 years. But they haven’t revealed any details.
“We love the speculation. It only adds to the interest,” says Meron.
Adds Zadan: “We had a conversation with Barbra Streisand, and she said, ‘I love that you announced me but didn’t say what I was going to be doing.’ “
The producers do say there will be more announcements and showtime shockers (“We have some 10s, big surprises no will see coming,” says Zadan). It’s all part of keeping as many sections of the viewing audience interested as possible. This wide-reach approach was a big reason why Seth MacFarlane, creator of the Fox series Family Guy, was chosen to host.
“The Oscars has been criticized for seemingly not being relevant,” says Meron. “Seth is a reflection of current pop culture and completely relevant. And we have something from every demographic, from Bond to Adele and everything in between.”
The producers have cut up the show into 13 segments, and Meron says each features “one wow moment.” That raises the question, what will be cut from the three-hour program to keep it from the perennial problem of running overtime?
One aspect they’ve targeted: cutting down on trips to the podium.
“There are a lot of shows where you are watching people walking. And by the time they get to the microphone, it’s unbelievable how much time has passed,” says Zadan. “We started to analyze the shoe-leather aspect of it and if it was humanly possible to cut that down.”
Finding ways, from nominee seat positioning to stage design, to make the trips quicker will not only save time, but also improve the tempo for the show.
“When we do a Broadway show, it’s all about pacing,” says Zadan. “The moment anything slows down, you’re in trouble.”
The number of segments has also led to a problem finding enough dressing rooms in the Dolby Theater, which will host the Oscars. The producers say they are transforming rooms beneath the theater into makeshift accommodations to handle the overflow.
“This dressing room situation is important,” says Meron. “This is going to be a big show. It’s probably the biggest Oscar show that’s ever happened. “