| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Feb 23 Bigger stars, more music and
edgier comedy are on the menu for Sunday's Oscar ceremony, when
the most coveted awards in the movie industry are handed out
during a glittering Academy Awards show.
Producers of the three-hour Oscar telecast at Hollywood's
Dolby Theatre are promising a faster-paced show and more face
time with first-time host Seth MacFarlane, while honoring the
best films not just of 2012 but also of decades past.
"We have more performances on that stage than we can ever
remember there being in the past. And we are not trotting
people out just to sing and dance. Every single thing you see on
that stage will be related to movies," said Craig Zadan, who is
producing the Oscar telecast for the first time with Neil Meron.
"We have devised ways that we are hoping will make the
pacing faster ... That doesn't mean we are not going to give as
much weight to honoring the winners, but there has been a lot of
dead space in the show (in the past)," Zadan told Reuters.
Steven Spielberg's presidential movie "Lincoln" heads into
Sunday's ceremony with a leading 12 nominations, followed by Ang
Lee's shipwreck tale "Life of Pi" with 11, French Revolutionary
musical "Les Miserables" and romantic comedy "Silver Linings
Playbook" with eight apiece, and Iran hostage drama "Argo" with
All five are competing for Best Picture, the top prize, in a
tight race that has narrowed in recent weeks to "Lincoln" or
"Argo" and will be the last to be announced on Sunday night.
JAMES BOND AND MUSICALS
Before then, Zadan and Meron have assembled an array of
performers and presenters that almost outshine the actors,
actresses, directors and screenwriters who have been waiting
since early January to see if they will go home with a golden
They include A-listers Barbra Streisand, Jack Nicholson,
Jane Fonda, John Travolta and Jennifer Aniston, along with
younger stars Daniel Radcliffe, Kristen Stewart and Joseph
But don't count on seeing all six surviving James Bond
actors on stage for the planned special 50th anniversary tribute
to the British secret agent's illustrious movie career.
"We have a tribute to James Bond which is really exciting
and thrilling, but it never included the concept of six guys
coming out and standing there awkwardly on the stage," Zadan
said, quashing speculation that Daniel Craig, Timothy Dalton,
Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, Sean Connery and George Lazenby
would unite on Sunday.
The nominations for "Les Miserables," where Anne Hathaway is
tipped to win Best Supporting Actress, has opened the door to a
celebration of the last decade of musicals.
The tribute will feature Hathaway, her Oscar-nominated
co-star Hugh Jackman, as well as "Dreamgirls" and "Chicago"
Oscar winners Jennifer Hudson and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
MacFarlane, the creator of provocative animated TV series
"Family Guy," will also be showing off his vocal skills, and
spending more time on stage than has been traditional for Oscar
"What happens a lot in the past is that the host comes on,
talks for a lot, and then disappears for half an hour. We are
not doing that. We are having Seth be there a lot, out there
introducing things, and that allows for more pacing and comedy,"
But there will be plenty of room for the unpredictable - and
that's not even counting possible upsets when the winners'
envelopes are unsealed.
"We love the fact that people don't quite know what they're
going to get with Seth as a host," said Meron. "We live for the
moments that happen on stage. Those are some of the great Oscar
moments of the past."
The Oscar winners are chosen by some 5,800 movie industry
professionals who are members of the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences.
The Academy Awards ceremony, in its 85th year, will be
broadcast live on ABC television in the United States, and to
more than 225 other nations.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant editing by Jackie Frank)