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September 28, 2021

Hollywood elite gather for Oscar luncheon

With only three weeks to go before potentially the biggest night of their lives, Academy Award nominees put their rivalry aside to attend the annual Oscar luncheon in Beverly Hills yesterday. A-listers including George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Quentin Tarantino mixed with a 120-strong group of directors, producers, scriptwriters and other crew from behind-the-scenes as they gathered at the lavish Beverly Hilton. Academy Award organizers have come up with a novel idea for avoiding those boring Oscar acceptance speeches filled with “thank yous.” Their solution: have the winners give two speeches.

As is tradition, the show’s producers offered tips on giving the 45-second acceptance speeches. Typically, that advice is to keep them short and avoid a long list of “thank yous” to agents, directors, spouses and family. Oscar co-producer Bill Mechanic called those often teary-eyed thanks “the single most-hated thing on the show.” Instead, he and co-producer Adam Shankman will have winners give two speeches: one onstage telling audience what winning an Oscar means to them and a second backstage for a “Thank You Cam” where winners can say “Thanks” to whomever they want. Of course, there were no guarantees the nominees would follow directions. So to illustrate their idea, the producers showed a videotape of past winners such as Renee Zellweger talking about what winning meant to them. Organizers had one more surprise waiting. When Oscars are awarded, the statuettes given onstage do not have a nameplate because nobody knows the winners. After several weeks, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nameplates engraved and fixed to the winners’ statuettes.

This year, Oscar organizers will have the nameplates engraved at the gala Governor’s Ball following the ceremony, so the winners can have their names put on after the show.

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