Oscars telecast: come for the music, stay for the movies?

Mon Feb 16, 2015 5:38pm EST
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lady Gaga will perform in a sure-to-be eye-catching outfit, Tim McGraw adds a little country to Hollywood, Adam Levine brings rock-star swagger and pop duo Tegan and Sara team up with The Lonely Island for kid favorite "Everything Is Awesome."

No, it is not the Grammys. Those were last week. It is the 87th Academy Awards and the telecast producers know they need new viewers who might require more enticement than a slew of good movies and gorgeous movie stars to show up for Hollywood's biggest night Sunday.

"It is a very strong year for us in music," said co-producer Craig Zadan, adding that "a lot of the strategy behind that is to welcome a younger audience."

Zadan and producing partner Neil Meron, now in their third year behind America's biggest non-sports televised event, need to do that without alienating the adult audience that tunes in each year.

Their choice of first-time host Neil Patrick Harris could be seen as the bridge between young and old and music and film fans. A Tony-winning, song-and-dance man who has won three Emmys hosting theater's Tony Awards, he also has a young following as the star of the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother."

"There will be a big musical sequence that features Neil that is being written by Bobby and Kristen Lopez who won the Oscar last year for 'Let It Go'," said Meron, who credits the performance of that "Frozen" anthem last year for bringing kids to the Oscars.

One of the big challenges to any Oscars telecast is that the best picture nominees are usually not blockbusters - and this year is no different with the exception of "American Sniper."

"Our plan from the beginning, two years ago, was we are going to get every fan of every movie we are honoring to come watch the show," said Zadan. "But in addition to that, we are putting on an entertainment."   Continued...

Lady Gaga performs "Cheek to Cheek" with Tony Bennett (not pictured) at the 57th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California in this February 8, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson