How Michelle Obama Came To Present Best Picture At The Oscars
With minimal exceptions, the Academy Awards ceremony has become a predictable affair. As if months of coverage and predictions in the months leading up to the show didn’t water down the spontaneity enough, the ceremony itself has forgotten how to celebrate the movies the awards came into existence for. But what’s a more interesting way to introduce an award for a heavily-favored movie about a successful CIA operation than having one of Washington D.C.’s most recognizable faces announce the winner?
Getting Michelle Obama involved with the reveal of the Best Picture award on Sunday night was nearly as complicated as Tony Mendez’s plot in Argo, as the Los Angeles Times reports. The appearance took the collaborative efforts of MPAA President Hawk Koch, Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, and cinema mastermind Harvey Weinstein, who discussed secrecy and tactics with members of the First Lady’s staff, covering everything from the diplomacy of the room she’d present the award from, to the ABC staff members allowed to work on the presentation. It wound up being ABC’s Chief Technology Officer and VP of Global Network Operations that silently brought everything together, bypassing everyone from the news and entertainment side, in an effort to achieve complete secrecy.
There were initial plans to have First Lady Obama sneak away from her seat to present the award at the live ceremony, but those plans were dashed by a White House scheduling conflict on the night. After a bit of improv, satellite communications were eventually set up for the Diplomatic Reception Room. A rehearsal meant that almost all of the employees at the Dolby Theater were gathered outside to handle an “emergency meeting” involving one of the musical numbers. The official Best Picture envelope was hand-delivered to the White House, though a second envelope was on hand for the broadcast in case the satellite feed malfunctioned. Text messages between the producers and the D.C. staff kept things smooth and problem-free. And then the magical moment happened, free from technical errors, and free from excitement (if we're being honest). In the end, we learned that J.J. Abrams isn’t the only person in Hollywood that knows how to keep information under wraps.
Though she was hardly the first political representative to show up at the Oscars, her appearance received quite a bit of negative feedback from viewers who probably feel stronger about her husband's political policies than the presentation of an entertainment award. Though I can’t help but think if she’d have announced the winner as “Argo fuck yourself,” she might have won some of those people over.
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