The creative team behind this year's Academy Awards spoke to the press on Thursday.
That was producer Will Packer's response to a question about the iconic performer's recently announced performance of her Best Original Song nominee, "Be Alive" from King Richard, during Thursday's press conference about the upcoming Oscars. Packer took the stage alongside producer Shayla Cowan, director Glenn Weiss, musical director Adam Blackstone, production designer David Korins, and two of the three hosts of this year's ceremony, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes. Their co-host, Amy Schumer, was unable to join the group, but assured press that it was not COVID-related.
Packer answered some general questions about the structure of the show -- revealing that this year's Oscars will return to the format of awarding Best Picture as the last category, featuring a surprise presenter that's yet to be announced. He described this year's ceremony as "kinetic," noting, "You will not feel like you’re watching the same show for however many hours it ends up being -- under three."
The producer also clarified confusion about the eight categories that will be pre-taped and edited into the broadcast, noting that every winner will get the chance to accept and make their speech on the Oscars stage. "These are our peers. These are the people that we work with, and people that we love," he added. "And we want to make sure that everybody has their moment.”
For this year's hosts, it's been fun to collaborate and work together on their bits as they prepare to make history as the first all-female trio to emcee the Oscars. "We've never been here before, because we've never been nominated, but that's another press conference," Hall teased.
“What’s been fun is being able to collaborate and create something together that shows what we each do differently,” the actress and performer added. “We really want to make the night so celebratory.”
The three hosts plan to open and close the show as a trio, and said that they will take the stage in different combinations throughout the night -- sometimes solo, sometimes as a duo or group, or sometimes, Sykes joked, "we'll all be drunk, so, no one [will be up there]."
The theme of this year's ceremony is "Movie Lovers Unite," and among the big laughs and star-studded moments, the team said they hope the 2022 Oscars get to celebrate the way movies can unite us. This will include the first live performance of the Encanto earworm "We Don't Talk About Bruno," a tribute to The Godfather's 50th anniversary and a celebration of 60 years of James Bond, as well as some more serious moments.
When asked how the show plans to pay tribute to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Sykes and Hall shared that the producers have planned an "organic and thoughtful" moment in the show to honor the "tumultuous time" we're in as a global community.
"It's a delicate situation and they have handled it so thoughtfully," Hall praised. "I think the audience will enjoy it -- we certainly love the idea."
"We want to be fun and celebratory, but we certainly want to do that in a respectful way, with an eye towards what's going on in the world," Packer added.
Packer spoke with ET's Kevin Frazier earlier this awards season, and opened up about how much it meant to him to get the call to helm this year's Oscars.
"This our industry's biggest night, as you know. In the world of award shows, this is the biggest," he noted. "It's something that I did not take lightly. It's an amazing responsibility, it's an amazing privilege and it's a lot of work, but I knew that and I think you have to be fearless."
"You got to listen to yourself and your voice, so instinctually, I follow my instincts, which have not led me wrong throughout my career," he continued. "We're the first all-Black producing team of the Oscars, but that means we can’t mess up, 'cause I can't have people saying that was the year it went bad, you know what I mean?"
There seems to be no danger of that, as Packer and his team promised plenty of surprises to come, particularly from musical director Adam Blackstone, who received a challenge from Packer to top his recent work on the star-studded Super Bowl halftime show. "I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that some of the surprises musically, [people] will be very, very excited about," Blackstone teased. "It's gonna be out of the ordinary and extraordinary, that have everything to do with us just being united as a people. Music along with the movies has the capability to just bring so many people together."
As for how this year's Oscars might top last year's show-stopping moment when Glenn Close performed "Da Butt"?
"We're going to try and get Dame Judi Dench to do the worm," Sykes deadpanned.