In an interview with USA Today‘s Anthony Breznican, the reigning Oscar Night ladies — producer Laura Ziskin and host Ellen DeGeneres — are a study in opposite attitudes and sensibilities. DeGeneres is a brainy, free-associative, improvisational wit. Ziskin wants to be hip and alpha-like, but she sounds like an affluent ooh-lah-lah control freak who’s terrified (or at the very least alarmed) by spontaneity.
The Oscar show, I’ve just realized, is going to be a kind of war between the two. Ziskin will dominate, of course, being the big-shot producer in the control room, but many of us are going to be pulling for DeGeneres to somehow make things a little more loosey-goosey than Ziskin might prefer.
Freewheeling DeGeneres: “I came up with a really fun idea for the end of my monologue that I think is going to set this room off.”
Humorless control-freak Ziskin: “This is the first I’m hearing about it.”
Freewheeling DeGeneres: “I want somebody to do a one-armed pushup. I want somebody to streak.”
Humorless control-freak Ziskin: “Those days are gone.”
Freewheeling DeGeneres: “It’s just that everybody is so body conscious: I would streak, but I’m bloated.’ ”
Humorless control-freak Ziskin: “People are so nervous, so terrified, not just the nominees, but the presenters. She releases us, makes us happy and forget about ourselves.”
Freewheeling DeGeneres: “I didn’t realize that was my job. I’m going to have to change my entire monologue.”
And yet Ziskin says to prepare for a 210-minute running time, minimum. “You get your popcorn and invite your friends over. Or get in bed by yourself or with someone you like, and you wait to see what’s going to happen.”
Freewheeling DeGeneres: “We’re taking all the seats out of the theater, and we’re bringing in beds, popcorn and pajamas. We’ll pair everyone up, real nice.”