Lynette Howell Taylor and Stephanie Allain Interview: 2020 Oscars producers
The producers of the 2020 Oscars are now first-time Emmy nominees. Lynette Howell Taylor and Stephanie Allain are nominated for Best Variety Special (Live) for producing the ceremony, which culminated with “Parasite” making history as the first non-English language film to win Best Picture. The duo did their homework and wanted the show to be respectful and inclusive. “We wanted it to have a theatrical feel,” says Allain, joining Taylor for an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “We wanted to feel like you were in the room even at home to really feel like you were part of something that was a theatrical experience, that had music, that moved.” Watch the video chat above.
The 92nd Academy Awards event on ABC was packed with musical performances, including all five Best Original Song nominees. The show began with Janelle Monae performing in front of dancers dressed as characters we saw in film in 2019, even “Us” and “Dolemite Is My Name,” which weren’t nominated for any awards that night. “There was a lot of controversy about movies that weren’t nominated and actors that weren’t nominated, so in the spirit of inclusion, we wanted to continue to recognize all the incredible work of the year,” states Taylor. Arguably the most buzzed-about musical moment of the night was Eminem, who performed “Lose Yourself” 17 years after the track won Best Original Song at the Oscars. Taylor reveals that Eminem had been secretly in the works to perform for months beforehand and they went the extra mile to keep it classified, with a decoy band set up during rehearsal to throw off even some of the other people working on the show. Taylor admits, “I literally can’t believe we kept it a secret.”
Diehard Oscar fans may have also noticed that the acting categories were presented this year. Instead of the typical order of the presenter announcing the actor, showing a clip from their film, cutting to a live shot of them in the audience and repeating for each nominee, they instead presented a montage of various clips of the five nominees followed by the live shots. For Allain, the newer presentation stemmed from the questions of, “How can we make this different? How can we blend it together so it doesn’t feel so much us against them, me against you, but it’s really a celebration?” The producing pair also made the decision to not play anyone off, even with speeches from winners like Joaquin Phoenix and Renee Zellweger running so long. There was a bit of an error when the “Parasite” team was played off during their Best Picture acceptance speech after they seemed like they were winding down, but Taylor and Allain were in unison telling director Glenn Weiss to put the lights back on. “It was an incredible moment and they deserved their moment,” declares Taylor. “That was an exciting call for us at the end of the show.”