Oscars: Producer Glenn Weiss on Lady Gaga’s Vision for “Meaningful” Performance of “Hold My Hand” – Hollywood Reporter

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The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Weiss for a brief download about the heartfelt speeches, the five song performances and his take on the ratings conversation.
By Chris Gardner
No one would fault Glenn Weiss for heading straight home after the 95th Academy Awards telecast.
The live TV veteran and his White Cherry Entertainment partner Ricky Kirshner teamed to executive produce Sunday’s Oscars, with Weiss taking on the additional role of directing, for an eighth consecutive year. Needless to say, he had his work cut out for him on Hollywood’s biggest night, and the reviews have largely been glowing so far for the telecast’s return to form as celebration of cinema. But Weiss seemed to have a little left in the tank as The Hollywood Reporter spotted him weaving his way through a crowded afterparty alongside wife Jan Svendsen.

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He granted a request for a brief interview during which he shared praise for host Jimmy Kimmel and how he kept the show moving, that stripped-down performance from Oscar winner Lady Gaga and how he’s feeling about not having to wake up early on Monday for an Oscars-related Zoom meeting.
First of all, it’s 12:30 a.m. How are you feeling?
I am feeling great. Really happy that the show went off the way it did. Happy with the winners too, and some really great moments and speeches.
It was a big night and you had your work cut out for you with a full show; all the categories were back. Heading in, what was the vision?
The whole atmosphere, the whole environment we wanted to create was, “Let’s break this down into what this really is — a passionate love letter to the movies.” This show was really about us saying, “Here is a great industry full of really great storytellers.” We want to tell the story of the storytellers. We took the opportunity to do that. We also wanted to keep the show moving. We wanted to keep it entertaining, and we hope we accomplished that.
Speaking of entertaining, it must’ve felt like a huge bonus to be able to have performances from all the Oscar-nominated songs?
It was really nice to have all the songs, but it was really great to be able to present five very different songs so differently. It wasn’t just like, “Here’s the next singer, let’s do this, let’s do that.” We gave each its own look and feel really put a lot into each performance. That is the backbone of what Ricky and I do as producers on the Tony Awards, we really try to make the pieces become pieces unto themselves. I think we accomplished that with all of the five different song performances and it turned out great.

The performances were very different, from the big “Naatu Naatu” number to a stripped-down Lady Gaga performance with the camera in a tight close-up to start. Was that her choice? How did that come together?
Honestly, when she came in, we had a conversation about it. She was really appropriate about the fact that this is a meaningful song to her and she wanted to really strip it down and do it not as an “Oscar performance,” but as her. And that’s exactly what we tried to capture.
What other meaningful moments are you proud of?
Oh God, the whole night. First of all, I thought Jimmy did a great job. He kept the show moving, but he also kept it lighthearted and entertaining enough that it didn’t feel all too serious. The winners throughout the night really took us on a ride. Just when we thought it was going one way, then it went another way. The speeches were passionate and from the heart.
Yes, I noticed a tweet tonight that someone posted about the number of mothers and family members, some of whom had passed, who were thanked during the show …
Yes, and that made it very human. That’s what we really hope to do with the show — get people to not read lists and that kind of thing and get them really speaking passionately from the heart. The Tony Awards are great for that, and in this world, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. But we got to a place this year where people were really emotional and they did speak from the heart. That makes for such a great show.

Speaking of being human, you’re standing here with your wife, Jan, and I know you recently got married …
Yes, wait, what’s that word you used? Wife. Yes. (Laughs.)
I’m surprised to catch you together after following your story over these many years. [Weiss famously proposed onstage during the 2018 Emmys broadcast.] What happens now, is there a honeymoon? Do you get to sleep in tomorrow?
No honeymoon yet. We’ve been together for 150 years now, so we feel like just an old married couple.
Is there a curfew tonight? How late will you stay out?
Other than fall flat on my face? (Laughs.) You know, this is the week to catch my breath. The Oscars have kept us tied up for months, and not in a bad way. But it will be really great not to have a Zoom meeting first thing in the morning.
The morning will bring the ratings. I hate to bring that up so late at a party, but what’s your attitude on that right now?
You know what, you can only hope. What we wanted to do was go out and execute a show that people would really like and a show people would talk about. We think we did accomplish that. I sure hope that [Monday] delivers good news in the ratings front, but either way, I think it was a successful evening.
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