*During her Friday appearance on “Jimmy Fallon,” Michelle Obama said she would be attending the Governor’s Ball at the White House on Sunday night and would likely only catch the tail end of ABC’s live telecast.
What she coyly left out was that she’d actually be ON the tail end of the telecast.
This morning, the Hollywood Reporter has the story of how the live video of FLOTUS presenting best picture from the White House came together.
The Hollywood mogul and his daughter connected the Academy and the show’s producers, who flew in secret to Washington, D.C., two weeks ago.
According to Academy president Hawk Koch, the plan came from Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Co. and his daughter, Lily. Koch and Oscar show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron loved the idea. And when it was pitched to the first lady, Zadan told The Hollywood Reporter that her response was, “Yes, I think it’s a great idea. We watch movies all the time at the White House. Let’s do it.”
So, two weeks ago, Koch and the producers borrowed Disney’s jet for a flight to D.C. They told their colleagues, though, that they had to go to New York for the day. “The planning of it was like Argo — it was a C.I.A. mission, it was so complicated. We didn’t even want anyone to know where we were going,” Zadan said.
Once they arrived, they joined up with Weinstein and his daughter and then they all met with members of the first lady’s staff to hammer out the details. The staff took them through the available White House rooms so they could select one for the broadcast. They were asked whether the first lady should appear alone or with a group, and the producers suggested having members of the military join in.
With the White House aboard, Zadan and Meron then approached Jack Nicholson, who had starred in their 2007 film “The Bucket List.” “We said, ‘We have this proposition for you. How would you like to present best picture with Michelle Obama?’,” Zadan said. Nicholson immediately signed on.
The Obama appearance was treated like a state secret, known to only a few of those working on the show. It was intentionally kept off the show’s run sheets, so it wouldn’t leak. On the Friday before the show, the Academy issued a release announcing that Nicholson and Dustin Hoffman would be serving as presenters. The announcement included a statement from Zadan and Meron that said, “Their participation in this year’s Oscars completes a list of presenters and performers that truly represents that great breadth and depth of acting talent in film today.”
The person seen via satellite on the Oscars show handing her the envelope was Robert Moritz, the chairman of PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Nicholson, who had introduced the first lady from the Dolby Theatre stage in Hollywood, was holding a second envelope with the winner — in case something went wrong and they lost the connection.