Producing the Academy Awards
by deborah l. martin
Juliane Hare, Don Mischer, and Charlie Haykel are three of the producing powerhouses behind this year’s Academy Awards
When the stars walk the red carpet into Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre for the 84th Annual Academy Awards February 26, they will be attending a production that has been planned to the very last detail by producers Don Mischer, Charlie Haykel, and Juliane Hare of Don Mischer Productions (along with co-producer Brian Grazer). However, Mischer knows this live event can sometimes take a surprising turn—and those moments are often the most memorable of the three-plus-hour show.
Mischer—an industry veteran with a résumé that includes everything from political conventions to Olympic opening ceremonies—knows the unexpected is what every producer of the Academy Awards wishes for. “You are producing the music, the scenery, the look, the script,” says Mischer. “But you have absolutely no effect on who’s going to win and what the winners are going to say. You hope for the unexpected winners and poignant speeches. A lot of the effectiveness of the show depends on that.”
Producing live events is nothing new for this team. “We all started working together on the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, DC, more than 15 years ago. I was so impressed with [Charlie and Juliane],” says Mischer. “They are first-class producers in their own right—in fact, they are producing Oscar’s Red Carpet Live this year for the second time.”
From the Red Carpet to the Stage
Both Haykel and Hare agree the Oscar pre-show is the biggest red-carpet event of the season. Says Haykel, “Our focus is to produce a show that captures all the glamour and anticipation, so the audience can feel what it’s like to make that famous walk.” Adds Hare, “People want to see the stars, who they’re with, what they’re wearing, and they also want to know what they are thinking and feeling—real, relatable emotions.”
Drama often surrounds the preparation for this massive live event, and this year is no different. After some well-reported comings and goings, a host was confirmed, and Mischer couldn’t have been more pleased. Billy Crystal is returning to the stage for the ninth time. “There are three great hosts in Oscar history,” he says, “and those are Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, and Billy Crystal. When Billy walks out on that stage, it’s going to be a homecoming. You want someone up there who’s quick, funny, likeable, and can react to events as they are happening. He fits that bill perfectly.”
As the countdown to February 26 begins, Mischer and his colleagues are deep in the throes of the production process. “The Academy Awards is as huge an event as you can tackle,” says Mischer. “It is seen in approximately 200 countries and translated into some 73 languages. But we don’t mind the pressure. Generally, we walk away from our projects feeling good.”
This team understands the power of live events to move an audience. In fact, all three members agree on one of their favorite moments from 2009: “Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, looking out on a crowd of thousands of people, before We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration,” says Haykel. Adds Mischer, “It was one of those emotional moments I will never forget.”
photography by collin stark
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.