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article imagePandemic-hit Oscars in hands of 'Contagion' director Soderbergh

By AFP     Dec 8, 2020 in Entertainment

Next year's pandemic-hit Oscars will be produced by "Contagion" director Steven Soderbergh, the Academy announced Tuesday, as Hollywood's biggest night finally begins to take shape.

The ceremony set to take place April 25 has already been postponed due to coronavirus and seen its film eligibility rules relaxed due to the lack of open theaters, while its format still remains unclear.

But the Los Angeles-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Tuesday unveiled "a dream team who will respond directly to these times" in creating the show.

"The upcoming Oscars is the perfect occasion for innovation and for re-envisioning the possibilities for the awards show," said president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson in a statement.

"The Academy is excited to work with them to deliver an event that reflects the worldwide love of movies and how they connect us and entertain us when we need them the most."

Soderbergh -- who won a best director Oscar for 2000's "Traffic" -- will be joined in planning the ceremony by former Grammys producer Jesse Collins and Stacey Sher ("Django Unchained.")

Soderbergh and Sher previously worked together on "Erin Brockovich" as well as "Contagion," which was praised at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic for its eery prescience.

The 2011 virus drama starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon featured social distancing, makeshift hospitals and rows over quack cures long before Covid-19 made these commonplace.

Soderbergh was even tapped to lead a taskforce on re-opening the movie industry by Hollywood's directors union earlier this year.

With most of California including Los Angeles under a new lockdown due to Covid, organizers have yet to decide whether the 93rd Oscars will take place in-person, emulate television's Emmys which took place "virtually" in September, or opt for some combination of the two.

"We're thrilled and terrified in equal measure," said Soderbergh in a joint statement with Collins and Sher.

"Because of the extraordinary situation we're all in, there's an opportunity to focus on the movies and the people who make them in a new way, and we hope to create a show that really feels like the movies we all love."

The ceremony has been postponed by eight weeks, while the cut-off date for Oscar-eligible films was extended by two months to the end of February.

The Academy -- seen as the apex body of the Hollywood film industry -- also eased eligibility rules to allow movies that skip the big screen and appear on streaming platforms to contend for Oscars.

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