David Rockwell crafted the current home of the Academy Awards show. Now he gets to jump in on Hollywood's big night itself.
Rockwell will be production designer for the Oscar show on Feb. 22, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Thursday.
The 52-year-old architect, who has also handled the set design for ''Hairspray,'' ''Legally Blonde'' and other Broadway productions, joins a team of fresh faces overseeing the 81st Oscar show, led by producer Laurence Mark and executive producer Bill Condon, filmmakers working on the ceremony for the first time.
''David is an innovator who possesses the outstanding combination of truly firsthand knowledge of the Kodak Theatre and superb design work in a variety of realms, including film and theater,'' said Mark and Condon in a joint statement. ''We're pleased to be collaborating with someone whose talents are so diverse.''
Also new to the telecast is producer Roger Goodman, vice president of special projects at ABC. Goodman, a multiple Emmy winner who will direct ABC's presidential inauguration coverage a month before the Oscars, has many major sporting events, news programs and awards shows to his credit, including the Academy Awards Countdown Show.
The ceremony is in the early planning stages and nominations will not be announced until Jan. 22, but Rockwell had one early prediction about the show.
''I think we'll see things never seen before at the Oscars,'' Rockwell said. ''One of the things about the Oscars is there are such thrilling possibilities. It is one of the great kind of communal rituals of the entire world.''
His firm, New York City-based Rockwell Group, designed the 3,500-seat Kodak Theatre in the heart of Hollywood, the venue for the Oscar show since 2001.
Other Rockwell Group projects include the W New York and W Union Square hotels; Nobu restaurants in New York, Melbourne, Australia, Hong Kong and elsewhere; and the Elinor Bunin-Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center.
Besides his sets for live theater, Rockwell worked on the design of the miniature world in ''South Park'' creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone's ''Team America: World Police,'' a comedy whose stars were 2-foot-tall puppets.
Rockwell's mother was a dancer and choreographer and his family was heavily involved in live theater when he was growing up. An architect for 23 years, Rockwell began branching out into set design about 10 years ago.
He describes designing the Oscar sets in appropriately artistic terms.
''It's almost like the setting for a jewel, designing the set, the environment that allows this celebration to happen in,'' Rockwell said.
The retro look of the Kodak Theatre, designed to resemble an ornate 1920s movie house, has been seen worldwide by the Oscar audience. Is Rockwell nervous at the prospect of his designs now taking center stage for Hollywood's most-visible event?
''I find the way I gauge a project that's really going to engage me is, it exists right on the edge between thrill and terror,'' Rockwell said. ''This fits right into that.''