Meron, Zadan Reveal OSCAR Closing Number Secrets
On Sunday night's Academy Award's broadcast, Kristin Chenoweth and host Seth MacFarlane effortlessly entertained the star-studded audience with a hilarious closing number titled "Here's to the Losers". The song was a take-off on the 1964 Frank Sinatra song written by Jack Segal and Robert Wells which also paid homage to, well, the losers.
"Here's to all the losing works of art," they crooned, "From "Lincoln" to "Amour", To the disappointed actors wondering, What they dressed up for"
In an interview with the LA Times on Monday, the show's creators, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan revealed how the final song was written in real time, due to the fact that much of its contents were not known until the night's winners were announced.
"It was actually quite complex," Zadan explained. "It really started off with Neil and me the first day we were hired by the academy to do the show. We took 40 years of Oscar shows on DVD and watched them to see what works, what doesn't work, what consistently is not working each year -- really analyzing every minute of it.
"One of the things we noticed was that at the show's end, after best picture has been announced, the host says...," Zadan's voice shifting to high-speed delivery: " 'Thank you very much, goodbye, hope you had a good time!' On every show.
"That is not acceptable for us. So we thought about, 'What do we do?' We also had to throw into the mix something that would not be adding any time to the show, because by the time it gets to the end, people want it to be over because it's so long."
Added Meron, "We thought Seth would be a great musical team with Kristin Chenoweth. Seth actually had done a template of a lyric based on how he thought the evening would play out, and we had a team of writers backstage monitoring the show to make last-minute additions and get them to Kristin and Seth to quickly learn them. They also had a teleprompter that the new lyrics would be in, so they'd be there if they needed it."
Prior to the broadcast, the host had come up with several alternative lyrics, depending on the outcome of the live show. Those notes, combined with on-the-spot updates went into the creation of the number's lyrics such as, "Oh poor Bradley Cooper, Get your chin off the floor, Here's your silver lining, You'll do "Hangover 4".
The creators also revealed that pulling off the song successfully required help from the audience members themselves. They asked Oscar director Don Mischer to have the audience remain in their seats following the reading of the best picture winner's name, rather than take off immediately for the after parties. "What usually happens on the Oscar telecast, is that as soon as best picture is announced, everyone is up out of their seats and running off to their parties," Zadan explained. "We didn't know if they would listen. We were backstage with Seth for the whole show, watching on monitors. When we got to the end and they started to do the song, we were like, 'Oh my God, everyone stayed in their seats -- no one got up."
Said Meron, "I think maybe after the surprise of having the first lady on the show, they didn't know what else we had up our sleeves." Zadan added that reactions to the show's finale has been "fantastic. People were thrilled that the show had an ending for the first time, a real, honest-to-God ending."