Oscar night to have something for everyone, producers say
By Jill Serjeant
BEVERLY HILLS (Reuters) - With a high five from 9-year-old actress Quvenzhane Wallis, and a pledge that Oscar night will have something for everyone, the Academy Awards kicked into high gear on Monday at a luncheon for more than 160 nominees.
Jennifer Lawrence, Steven Spielberg, Jessica Chastain, Naomi Watts, Joaquin Phoenix, Kathryn Bigleow, Anne Hathaway and Denzel Washington were among the Oscar-nominated actors, directors and producers who mingled over cocktails and lunch at a Beverly Hills hotel before gathering for the traditional group photo of the Academy Award class of 2012.
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" newcomer Wallis, the youngest actress ever to be nominated in the lead actress category, slapped hands with Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Hawk Koch as her name was called to join her peers for the annual photo ahead of the February 24 ceremony.
"Argo" producer-director Ben Affleck, riding high after his Iran hostage thriller took its third major award at the weekend, shrugged off being overlooked in the Best Director Oscar shortlist.
"I feel honored to be here. It's a big party," Affleck told reporters, adding, "I've had many, many nights watching (the Oscars) from home."
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron - who will be producing the three-hour Academy Award telecast for the first time - said performances by Barbra Streisand, Adele and Norah Jones, along with special tributes to Hollywood musicals and 50 years of James Bond movies, should give the ceremony wide appeal.
The popularity of many of the nine Best Picture nominees should also help bring in big audiences at home and abroad, they said.
"It has been a great year for movies. The movies are very competitive and they have done great box office. So we feel there is more interest this year than perhaps previous years, " Zadan said. Continued...