Grateful Academy Award recipients will once again be battling the clock on Sunday night as they give their acceptance speeches. And the men behind that timer – and the inevitable music that follows when it reaches zero – are prepared to make some tough calls.
Ahead of the Oscars, executive producers and showrunners Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss said in an interview with CNN that trying to control the length of thank you speeches is a responsibility they take seriously.
“If you are giving a heartfelt, well-meaning speech, you will not get cut off,” Kirshner said. “If you start reading off your grocery list of what you need to do tomorrow, probably the music’s gonna come in.”
He likened himself and Weiss to a “coach and a quarterback,” saying that they “are on headsets all night, we kind of have a feel.” The pair have worked together for two decades, helming various big-tickets events between the two of them – from the Super Bowl Halftime show, to the Tonys, to past Academy Awards shows.
There are times, of course, when even the music can’t stop a winner from trying to make the most of their moment. On those instances, Kirshner said he has strong feelings.
“To be honest, it’s kind of rude to the people that come after,” he said. “We’re all professionals trying to do our job.”
He added: “We’re not trying to be rude.”
The battle over time on the awards stage is nothing new, but the ire has seemed louder than usual at times. At the Golden Globes in January, pianist Chloe Flower received backlash online – and even from award recipients – for playing the piano when she was instructed to. She clarified on Twitter, “I would never play piano over people’s speeches!! I’m only playing when you see me on camera!”
At the Oscars, Weiss said, a countdown clock helps winners keep track of time, and when it is up, words appear on the teleprompter asking them to “Please wrap it up.”
That’s when other measures need to be taken.
“Nobody – to say it clearly – wants to play music,” he said. “We hope that everyone respects (the time allotted), and if everybody does, there’s no music playing.”
As for other unscripted moments – whether it’s something small and silly like Ariana DeBose’s BAFTAs rap or major like last year’s infamous Oscars slap – Weiss and Kirshner along with their production team are trying to be prepared for practically anything that may happen during the telecast.
“We really do believe that what happens in the room translates on television,” Kirshner said. “Things happen. And that’s why we’re (working) in live television – because we love that.”