Steven Spielberg Believes Everyone Should "Have a Seat" at the Oscars' Live Telecast

Steven Spielberg poses with the Oscars he won for 'Schindler's List' in 1994. Credit: Getty Images
Why does Steven Spielberg disagree with the Academy's decision to pre-record eight Oscar categories?

It’s been clear since the Academy made the decision to pre-record eight categories an hour before the Oscars telecast begins—it was a bad choice for a multitude of reasons.

Many have voiced their concerns and disappointment with the decision, including one of the most prominent and powerful voices in the entertainment industry, Steven Spielberg. 

In an exclusive interview with Deadline, Spielberg said, “I disagree with the decision made by the executive committee. I feel very strongly that this is perhaps the most collaborative medium in the world. All of us make movies together, we become a family where one craft is just as indispensable as the next.” 

The 19-time Oscar nominee and Thalberg Award winner continued, “All of us are on the same line bringing the best of us to tell the best stories we possibly can. And that means for me we should all have a seat at the supper table together at 5.” 

Spielberg on the set of 'West Side Story'Credit: 20th Century Studios

The Academy has announced plans to present eight categories beginning at 4 p.m. at the Dolby. AMPAS president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson told Deadline that they plan to give the nominees and winners in those categories the full Oscar experience while also being pre-recorded for a telecast edited version of the category and winner’s speech to try to keep the show under three hours. 

Spielberg’s West Side Story is up for seven Oscars, and two of its nominations for Production Design and Sound are included in the eight categories which will be presented at 4 p.m. Spielberg says that the collective experience of making movies and honoring everyone is equally important, and each winner deserves a moment to be celebrated. 

“When I look back and I think without John Willaims, [Bruce from] Jaws would wear dentures. With West Side Story, when Tony is singing ‘Tonight’ with Maria, without [production designer] Adam Stockhausen, he would be singing it on a step-ladder and she would be on the scaffolding, all this on an empty soundstage. Without film editing, all my movies would still be in dailies,” Speilberg said. 

'Without Adam Stockhausen, [Tony] would be singing [Tonight] on a step-ladder and [Maria] would be on the scaffolding," says Spielberg. Credit: 20th Century Studios

The Oscars have never before separated live and pre-taped categories. It has always been an idea that has been redlined. But due to declining ratings, there has been pressure to make changes to the award show. The Academy plans to put the results of those eight categories out on their social media platforms as those winners are announced before the broadcast. This is similar to what the Tonys and Grammys do, and the Film Editing category at last Sunday’s Independent Spirit Awards was presented during a commercial break. 

Spielberg said he hopes that the decision will be reversed.

“The same thing came close to happening three years ago, and at the eleventh hour a decision was made that reversed it and four categories that were in the commercial breaks were reinstated on the live show. I hope it’s reversed, but I’m not anticipating a reversal and I am not optimistic about it.” 

Other Oscar nominees like Guillermo del Toro, Denis Villeneuve, Jane Campion, and Music Branch governor Laura Karpman have shared their thoughts on the decision, and some members of the Academy like Tom Fleischman have resigned from their Academy membership.

Do you think the Academy will reverse this decision? Let us know in the comments below!      

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2 Comments

The "Academy" needs to get it through their thick skulls that people do NOT want to hear speeches about politics and race and inequity and so on. These are issues that are important, but are not solvable during an awards telecast. Yet, they continue to beat these to death and as an Editor of 29 years, I am out.

March 8, 2022 at 7:28AM

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Boomer white editor doesn't want to hear about marginalized communities.
Got it.

March 8, 2022 at 2:16PM

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Tom MacLeod
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