Smells like tween spirit: Miley Cyrus and Channing Tatum at the Oscars
A new crop of Oscar presenters were announced Tuesday by the show's producers, a group that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Pine, Gerard Butler and Sam Worthington.
Organizers obviously are looking to strike a balance between the serious (Kate Winslet, Pedro Almodovar) and the youth-baiting (Taylor Lautner, Channing Tatum and Zac Efron, the latter two of whom have starred in Shankman-produced films). Despite the presence of some tween pin-ups, Shankman told my colleague Amy Kaufman, in a story set to be published in Wednesday's edition of The Envelope, that he could have pushed the Disney Channel angle a lot further.
"The biggest requests I get on Twitter -- and I’m not kidding, I’m still getting these daily -- are requests for Ashley Tisdale and Hilary Duff and Adam Lambert singing 'Time for Miracles.' And I was like, you know, you just have to sort of ignore that. Because those are not people in the movie business.”
What's particularly interesting about today's batch of presenters is not the youth but how many of them have something new to flog. Previously announced presenters who have movies coming out in the coming months include Steve Carell ("Dinner for Schmucks," "Date Night"), Robert Downey Jr. ("Iron Man 2," "Due Date"), and Miley Cyrus ("Last Song").
The new crop is even more marketing-ready: Stars like Gyllenhaal ("Prince of Persia"), Pine ("Unstoppable") and Butler ("The Bounty Hunter") all have movies set to be released this year. A few have multiple pictures, like Sam Worthington ("Clash of the Titans," "Last Night" and "The Debt").
The Oscars have always (but increasingly in recent years) tried to indulge the impulse for historical seriousness as well as the crowd-pleasing popcorn (well, the Oscar version). And producers of the show are often in a no-win situation: If they ignore the pop they're accused of being out of touch; if they embrace it, they're charged with pandering.
Still, the abundance of both young stars and actors with something to promote -- and not necessarily movies that will sweep voters off their feet -- makes us wonder if this will be the kind of year when the show tips a little more promotional than reverential (and further arouses the question of how much of that will be by the design of Mechanic and Shankman). Mechanic, for his part, at least nods to the demographic aspect. “The younger side of the audience has been drifting for years, so we’re more conscious of trying to build a youth element into the show," he told Kaufman.
We also wonder if all of this might make us yearn for a moment in the 2008 ceremony, when Jon Stewart offered an insider quip about stars' tendency to promote movies -- and then subverted it. "According to IMDB," Stewart said, "our next presenter is the star of 2010 Untitled Nicole Kidman project.'"
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Miley Cyrus. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times