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Oscar telecast will be longer than three hours

By Kate Feldman • Updated Feb 22, 2019 at 3:36 PM

Serena Williams, who has as much impact off the tennis court as on it these days, is headed to Hollywood next. Or, at least, to a celebration of Hollywood.

The world-renowned athlete, who recently appeared in a Super Bowl commercial for Bumble and made a surprise cameo on “Lip Sync Battle” last month to reprise her role from the 2016 music video for Beyoncé’s “Sorry,” will be one of the eight non-actors to present at the Oscars on Sunday, the New York Times reported.

Williams, 37, will introduce “A Star is Born,” while seven other celebrities will each take on one of “Black Panther,” “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite,” “Green Book,” “Roma” and “Vice.”

“Along with inclusion, which we definitely want to embrace, the big theme of the show is about movies connecting us — not in this theater but in a big, sweeping, cultural way,” Donna Gigliotti, the lead producer of the Academy Awards, told the New York Times.

“There are so many things to balance. Some viewers want to see glamour. You have to pay attention to where there is humor and where there is music. When do we guess that people at home might get up to make popcorn in the kitchen, and what can we have on right after that to bring them back?”

A spokesperson for The Academy did not return a request for comment about the other seven presenters. Recent Grammy winner Kacey Musgraves is expected to be one of the seven.

Bette Midler and Queen are scheduled to perform.

The 2019 Oscars have already seen a laundry list of changes — but few that have stuck — as the annual awards show aims for a return to legitimacy.

The ceremony will go without a host for the first time in 30 years after Kevin Hart stepped down following backlash for homophobic tweets that resurfaced online.

Plans for a “popular film” category were also quickly scrapped after criticism that the award was announced so ‘Black Panther” could be recognized without the Academy having to give its top trophy to a superhero movie.

The most recent controversy, however, came when the Academy announced intentions to eliminate four categories — cinematography, film editing, live action short and makeup and hairstyling — from the live telecast in order to cut time from the three-plus-hour broadcast.

But stars, including Brad Pitt, Kerry Washington, Emma Stone, Spike Lee, George Clooney, Alfonso Cuarón and dozens more protested, signing an open letter that blasted the decision.

“Since its inception, the Academy Awards telecast has been altered over time to keep the format fresh, but never by sacrificing the integrity of the Academy’s original mission,” they wrote.

“When the recognition of those responsible for the creation of outstanding cinema is being diminished by the very institution whose purpose it is to protect it, then we are no longer upholding the spirit of the Academy’s promise to celebrate film as a collaborative art form.”

The Academy relented and reversed its decision, with the producers conceding this Sunday’s telecast will run more than three hours.


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