LOS ANGELES – First-time Academy Awards acting nominees Lady Gaga, Rami Malek, Regina King, Sam Elliott, Richard E. Grant, Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira learned a big Oscar night lesson at Monday’s 38th annual nominees luncheon.
Their acceptance speeches should be passionate, emotional and quick when the Oscars are handed out on Feb. 24 (ABC, 8 p.m. ET/5 PT). In fact, they might even hustle to the podium to make the best use of the time.
“Show us how eager you are to get up there and make the speech brief – yes, everyone,” John Bailey, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, told the nominees from the podium at the Beverly Hilton Hotel grand ballroom, urging future winners to skip thanking people like “your dog walker or Keto dietitian.”
The show’s producers, Glenn Weiss and Donna Gigliotti, even unveiled a new guideline. Rather than limiting speeches to the traditional 45 seconds before the orchestra starts, winners will have a total of 90 seconds to get from their seat to the podium and give their speech.
“The faster you get to the stage, the more time you have to speak,” said Gigliotti.
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The producers played an shining example clip from the 2001 show, when Stephen Soderbergh won best director for “Traffic” and beelined to the stage. Soderbergh told that audience he’d thank people in his life later, and went on to raise the roof by dedicating the award to the world’s art creators.
“It’s short but heartfelt and full of meaning,” Gigliotti said of Soderbergh’s speech. “At the risk of sounding like a sap, that speech brings tears to my eyes every time. And you notice, he doesn’t waste any time getting to the stage. That’s what’s really great.”
The producers have a mandate from the Academy to keep the often-bloated Oscars to a strict three-hour deadline. Shorter speeches will be a part of that, as well announcing select (still unspecified) categories during commercial breaks, then editing those winning moments down to air later in the broadcast.
“The good news about a three-hour show: You’re hitting the parties by 8:15,” Weiss added.
Neither Bailey nor the show’s producers gave any other inklings about the Oscar show, which is still officially without a host since Kevin Hart dropped out after facing backlash for his past homophobic tweets. The luncheon is an annual tradition for the nominees in 24 categories to celebrate their achievement.
The afternoon culminated with each nominee being called to the podium for a 2019 Oscar class photo, with Laura Dern inviting each up individually. The roll call started with “BlacKkKlansman” director Spike Lee, who wore gold athletic shoes and received rapturous applause for his first nomination, lead by “Bohemian Rhapsody” star Malek, who stood and whooped his support.
As the crowd assembled, Gaga chit-chatted with “Black Panther” producer Kevin Feige. It ended with “Vice” director Adam McKay the last to join the group. After the picture was taken, Elliott gallantly helped his “Star Is Born” co-star Gaga down from the risers.
“Today, in its purest sense, is a celebration of being part of a collective community,” Dern said from the podium. “This is our opportunity to recognize your profound input.”