Oscars: February 2008 Archives

Diablo Cody: I wasn't crying. Not me ...

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Diablo Cody, the Chicago-area ex-stripper who just won an Oscar for writing "Juno," is now a columnist for Entertainment Weekly magazine. In her latest missive, she sets the record straight about crying during her acceptance speech: “I get something stuck in my eye and am widely misinterpreted as weeping. Yeah, like I would cry in that situation. You punks obviously don’t know me. I’m tough. I would never break into ragged sobs on live television, and I would also never run off stage immediately afterward and blubber in front of the entire production crew and Helen Mirren."

Jessica Alba at Oscars: I'll tumble for ya ...

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Much was made of the fact that several actresses at the Oscars were sporting baby bumps. Jessica Alba, however, was threatened by a real bump.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Bruce Davis, executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, following the news of the dismally low ratings for Sunday's Oscars. He acknowledges that a majority of the traditional viewers simply didn't tune in at all this year, and instead of casting blame to elements of the show or the writers strike, he concedes that, in the movie industry of the future, the Oscars may naturally be a smaller affair.

"Some of these movies are just too difficult for a mass audience, frankly," Davis says. "And if we have moved into an era where there's this dichotomy between big popular studio movies and smaller pictures for more specialized audiences, we may just have to get used to smaller audiences [for the Oscar telecast.] This could be a one-year blip but it doesn't look like one. It looks like something that has been developing over the past few years. It's as if the National Book Awards had to make a choice between giving awards to very serious fiction or to the most popular bestsellers. We've come to that point where there are two kinds of movies, and we're focusing on the ones which, almost by definition, aren't going to be blockbusters."

Next year, Oscar should beef up online content

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ABC’s broadcast of the 80th annual Academy Awards hit a ratings low with only 32 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media. Though Oscar ratings are often directly related to the popularity of the nominated films (and this year’s bunch were not box office sensations), many are calling for the academy to retool its broadcast. One of the first things the Oscars should re-examine is its Web site.

Studios now regularly promote their movies on the Web, (the success this winter of ‘‘Cloverfield’’ was partly based on a viral ad campaign). And the writers strike — which was primarily over revenue from material played online — proved just how much Hollywood is fixated on the Web. So why during its biggest night would Hollywood shun the Internet?

Oscars to Whoopi: We're sorry!

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Whoopi Goldberg has accepted an apology from producer Gil Cates for not including her in a montage featuring Oscar hosts during Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast.

Cates called her Tuesday and ‘‘talked about the fact that he had made an oversight, pure and simple. He said, ‘You know I love you,’’’ Goldberg said today on ABC daytime talk show ‘‘The View.’’

Whoopi Goldberg seemed sad and choked up on ‘‘The View’’ on Monday when her fellow co-hosts discussed how she was not included in a montage featuring Oscar hosts during the Academy Awards telecast.

The 52-year-old Goldberg has received two Oscar nominations, winning for her role as Oda Mae Brown in 1990’s ‘‘Ghost.’’ She hosted the event in 1994, 1996, 1999 and 2002. She did, however, appear as an Oscar winner in a separate montage Sunday night.

Goldberg appeared stumped that the academy would leave her out of the one clip, as well as repeat host Steve Martin.

Every Oscars telecast includes the requisite "bring out your dead" moment, where the screen flips through movie clips of actors and other film industry folks who've died in the last year. But there's been a small uproar online last night and today about some notable exclusions from this year's death watch.

Ouch! Oscars ratings may be lowest ever

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The Oscars are a ratings dud. Nielsen Media Research says preliminary ratings for the 80th annual Academy Awards telecast are 14 percent lower than the least-watched ceremony ever.

This Oscar party is all designated drivers

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Of all the industry parties to celebrate the Academy Awards, one was notable for having very few women, no bar, and the best rides in town all parked outside — Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Cadillacs and countless Lincoln Towncars.

The limo drivers who shuttle the stars to and from the Kodak Theatre spend Oscar night watching the telecast and eating dinner under heat lamps on a patio at the Hollywood Bowl while they wait for their clients.

‘‘Los Angeles doesn’t have enough limos for this event,’’ said Rick Ham, who has been driving limos for 26 years. ‘‘They call the companies in Orange County and San Diego to help out.’’

Let the buying of Oscar winners begin

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The red carpet has been rolled up, but what's happening today is one of the main reasons they do this whole Oscars thing to begin with. The awards, the glitz, maybe the clips — they got your attention, your interest is piqued, and now you're buying the DVDs.

Amazon.com, of course, has its own Oscars store, and the shiny discs are suddenly flying off the conveyor belts. According to the online retailer:
— The biggest jump in sales rank come from the surprise wins this year with "La Vie en Rose" up 1,850 percent and "Once" up 566 percent.
— A number of other films featured last night during the ceremony also experienced a jump in sales, including "There Will Be Blood" up 191 percent, "No Country for Old Men" up 170 percent, "Enchanted" up 116 percent and "Sweeney Todd" up 86 percent.

Rocket Man ignites night of Oscar parties

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By SOLVEJ SCHOU

LOS ANGELES — With Vanity Fair sitting out this year’s celebrations, the belle of the Oscars parties was a piano playing Elton John.

The 60-year-old singer’s 16th annual viewing dinner and after-party benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation topped other bashes Sunday, with 750 guests and a bevy of A-list stars who sipped cocktails and feasted on a four-course meal under the Pacific Design Center’s red-draped tent.

Vanity Fair’s lavish, celebrity-drenched annual affair, typically the top Oscar-night party, was canceled weeks earlier, before the end of the writers strike.

Milkshakes, please! Still more backstage hilarity

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By ANGELA DAWSON

Best actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis (‘‘There Will Be Blood’’) was asked whether he expected to receive complimentary milkshakes from now on wherever he goes.

He quipped, ‘‘I’m looking forward to getting all the complimentary milkshakes I can drink for the next 25 years or so.’’ He explained his kiss to fellow nominee George Clooney after his win this way: ‘‘he was the closest (nominee) to me. ... I kissed my wife and, in the interest of parity, I kissed George.’’

Can 'Counterfeiters' earn legitimate respect?

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‘‘The Counterfeiters,’’ the Austrian tale of a master forger forced to work for Nazis in a concentration camp, won the foreign-language Oscar on Sunday.

Now it has to earn some respect.

The category’s five nominees had been overshadowed in weeks leading up to the ceremony by an uproar that severally critically-acclaimed films didn’t make the cut.

Domestic box-office totals for the most-honored films at the 80th annual Academy Awards:

O brothers! Coens take top Oscars honors

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A year after the Oscars finally honored Martin Scorsese as best director, the academy took care of business in speedier fashion by feting the widely admired Coen brothers.

Though Joel and Ethan Coen’s many die-hard fans might say their win was nevertheless belated — it coming 24 years after their first film — their Texas crime film ‘‘No Country for Old Men’’ has generally been viewed as a culmination of craft for the brothers.

Here's a look at their win as directors:


And the best picture of 2007 is ...

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"No Country for Old Men" by Joel and Ethan Coen!

The complete winners list

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Complete list of winners at the 80th annual Academy Awards, presented Sunday night at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles:

Diablo Cody wins for "Juno" screenplay

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She may have dressed like Wilma Flintstone, or maybe Bam-Bam, but when she won the Oscar for best original screenplay, "Juno" writer Diablo Cody thanked her parents "for loving me exactly the way I am" — and, heck, so do we.

She was clearly excited to be in the spotlight, shrieking, "What is happening?!" as she stepped to the microphone. She then brandished her new trophy and — in one of the surprisingly few nods to the writers strike this evening — said, "This is for the writers."

Daniel Day-Lewis wins best actor

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And is most gracious during his moment in the spotlight ...

More backstage star-gazing at the Oscars

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We've got Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper backstage at the Oscars, but here's another set of eyes (AP's Sandy Cohen) behind the scenes of tonight's glamorama ...

Oscars by the numbers, yet again

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Counting down the Academy Awards ceremony:

1 million: Value, in dollars, of the shoes that screenwriter Diablo Cody was offered — but refused — to wear.
5,829: Academy Awards voting members.
1993: Last year a black-and-white film won the best-picture Oscar — ‘‘Schindler’s List.’’
1951: Year the first film in color, ‘‘An American in Paris,’’ won the best-picture Oscar.
83: Age of supporting actor nominee Hal Holbrook and supporting actress nominee Ruby Dee.
63: Countries submitting foreign-language films.
43: People remembered during the In Memoriam segment.
21: Age of ‘‘Juno’’ star and best-actress nominee Ellen Page.
17: Days it took to shoot the film ‘‘Once.’’
13.5: Height, in inches, of an Oscar statuette.
13: Age of ‘‘Atonement’’ star and supporting-actress nominee Saoirse Ronan.
12: Length of acceptance speech, in seconds, by Alexandra Byrne, winner of the costume design Oscar.
6: Prominent stars wearing a scarlet red dress.
4: Sponsors highlighted in the opening of the telecast.
3: Visibly pregnant actresses who appeared on-screen.
1: Number of times Cameron Diaz fumbled her pronunciation of ‘‘cinematographer’’ while presenting the category’s Oscar.
0: Number of times veteran sound mixer Kevin O’Connell has won an Oscar after 20 nominations.


Chicagoan is Oscar's hair apparent tonight

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Before he moved from Chicago to Los Angeles to jump-start his career as a hair stylist six months ago, Johnny Wright had no idea he would contribute to the glitz of the Academy Awards.

This afternoon, he helped two nominees, Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer, who were nominated for art direction for the period piece ‘‘Atonement,’’ get all dolled up for the big night.

‘‘They were very easygoing. They weren’t as stressed out as I thought they’d be,’’ Wright said, after finishing his work shortly before the show began.

And the second upset of the night goes to ...

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Marion Cotillard, for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose."

Once again, Cate Blanchett is smacked down (for her title role in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age") and the expected winner, Julie Christie, watched her award go "Away From Her."

Here's her jubilant acceptance speech:

And it's a great night for the French — "La Vie en Rose" also won for makeup, and "Le Mozart de Pickpockets" won for live action short film.

And the first upset of the night goes to ....

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Tilda Swinton, winning best supporting actress for her role in "Michael Clayton."

She was clearly as shocked as everyone else. I'd say she blanched and went pale, but ... she couldn't get any paler.

"Happy birthday, Mom," she said at the microphone, before spitballing a terrific, quick and quippy acceptance speech. Watch the video here:


The hottest accessory on the Oscar red carpet was a baby bump.

Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Jessica Alba and most noticeably Cate Blanchett wore theirs under designer gowns.

Watch some video here:


Am I remembering this correctly: Haven't the Oscars always started the show with the best supporting actor and best supporting actress awards? It was a way to start with a zinger, something people are interested in, as opposed to tonight's first-hour run through the categories only Hollywood hardcores really care about.

But, after more than 45 minutes, here comes our first acting award, presented by Chicago's own winner of this award, Jennifer Hudson, and (ahem) the winner is ...

John Lennon's connection to this year's Oscars

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Dig this CNN video that tells the tale of John Lennon's connection to this year's Oscars — the indirect inspiration behind the man who made one of this year's nominated shorts, "I Am the Walrus." But I thought the walrus was Paul...?

12 seconds — shortest Oscar acceptance speech?

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Just 12 seconds and 34 words, including the ‘‘um.’’

Alexandra Byrne set the gold standard in short award show acceptance speeches when she picked up the costume design Oscar for ‘‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age.’’

And she still got in four ‘‘thank yous.’’

With only minutes until show time, it became a mad dash into the Kodak Theatre for last-minute arrivals like Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen, who were trailed by Faye Dunaway, who was followed by Johnny Depp, who had Harrison Ford right behind him.

As the rush continued, Hillary Swank, just ahead of Josh Brolin and Ellen Page, nearly stepped on the back of Spike Lee’s shoes.

Still, George Clooney took a moment to crack a couple more jokes.

For Cody, diamonds are the soul of her shoe issues

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The shoes fit — and cost $1 million — but Diablo Cody didn’t wear ’em.

Fancy-footwear designer Stuart Weitzman had selected the Oscar-nominated ‘‘Juno’’ screenwriter to wear his specially designed $1 million diamond-encrusted Retro Rose shoes on the red carpet, but Cody opted to wear a pair of simple gold flats under her flowing Dior leopard print dress instead.

‘‘It was a cheesy publicity stunt,’’ she saidon the red carpet.

Gary Busey lived up to his reputation by strangely crashing Ryan Seacrest’s interviews on the Academy Awards red carpet.

While Seacrest was interviewing Jennifer Garner and Laura Linney on the live E! pre-show broadcast, Busey repeatedly interrupted. ...

Watching the Oscars online

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The Oscars are on YouTube with their own channel tonight. If you can stomach more of Oscars prez Sid Ganis, who simply loves putting himself in front of the camera, he does lead a fairly interesting and informative video here about how the Kodak Theatre and the red carpet get set up for tonight's telecast.

Oscrs 'seat fillers' really work their butts off

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One of Hollywood’s darkest, deepest secrets is that not every smiling face you see on TV when the camera pans the Oscar audience belongs to a famous actor, a behind-the-scenes big shot or even someone who knows one.

No, some of those people sitting there have nothing to do with the Oscars except sitting there. They are professional seat fillers, the people who show up dressed to kill and ready to sit the moment a star gets up to accept an award or go to the bathroom.

Their mission: Ensure that people watching the Oscar show at home never see an empty seat during the broadcast.

Stars get Oscars swag — and so do the fans

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At the Academy Awards, even the bleacher bums get a swag bag.

No, their bags aren’t crammed with expensive designer jewelry or gift certificates for lavish vacations.

But each person lucky enough to score lottery tickets to the bleachers lining the red carpet at Sunday’s Oscar show received a bag containing a pair of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate granola bar, items likely to send them home sugar-shocked as well as star-struck.

The dark gray bags, emblazoned with the words ‘‘I Am An Academy Awards Bleachers Fan,’’ also held a container of L’Oreal moisturizing lotion, a tube of Aveeno lip balm and a disposable camera.

Tim Gunn hopes Meryl Streep can make it work on the red carpet.

The "Project Runway" mentor suggested Streep wear something more flattering than last year when the actress, who was nominated for her part as a cutthroat fashion editor in "The Devil Wears Prada," donned a long black dress and was infamously draped in chunky coral and turquoise jewelry.

"I worry about Meryl," Gunn said at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. "She's so smart. She's so talented. I felt so bad for her last year at this event. I had the highest expectations for her because of the role she was nominated for."

Fans braving a wet red carpet before Oscars

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It was barely past dawn and raining like crazy when the first hundred or so people lucky enough to score tickets to the bleachers outside the Kodak Theatre arrived to claim their seats.

An awning had been placed overhead to protect them from the rain, but not from the cold, strong wind.

Still, no one seemed to mind.

"I think it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," said medical technician Sydney Smelkinson, who traveled with a friend from Gilbert, Ariz., for the hoopla. "It's fun to see celebrities in person — it's surreal."

Oscars organizers had better hope that red carpet doesn't get waterlogged.

Last-minute preparations for the 80th annual Academy Awards geared up today amid a forecast of showers for the arrival area along Hollywood Boulevard, where stars mince about in front of photographers, reporters and bleachers full of cheering fans.

A rainy outlook wasn't going to dampen spirits for Hollywood's biggest night, which was serving double duty as a ceremony honoring the year's best in film and a celebration for a town relieved to return to business as usual following the screenwriters' strike.

It's ladies night at the Oscars rehearsal

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Half a dozen A-list actresses stopped by the Kodak Theatre on Saturday to rehearse their Oscar lines.

Cameron Diaz, in a gray sweater, skinny black jeans and towering high heels, opened a prop winner's envelope and said, "The Oscar goes to — your mama. No, I'm just kidding."

She stepped off stage and bumped into Jessica Alba. "Hi, honey," Diaz said as she gave Alba a kiss.

Glen Hansard's 'Once' in a lifetime opportunity

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To us, it brings back that beautiful Oscars of 1998 when Elliott Smith performed his song "Miss Misery" from the film "Good Will Hunting." But the Uk Telegraph has a similar story about "Once" star Glen Hansard's performance on the telecast tomorrow night, and "how a Dublin busker got booked for the Oscars."

By SOLVEJ SCHOU

LOS ANGELES — To ‘‘Juno’’ screenwriter Diablo Cody, the attention she and three other women are getting for their Academy Award nominations in the typically male-dominated screenwriting categories is ‘‘kind of a double edged-sword.’’

‘‘You don’t want to be singled out as a woman,’’ she says. ‘‘On the other end, as a feminist, and someone who feels that women are marginalized in this industry, I’m thrilled that women are getting this sort of recognition.’’

Cody is nominated for her first Oscar in the original screenplay category, along with ‘‘The Savages’’ writer-director Tamara Jenkins and ‘‘Lars and the Real Girl’’ writer Nancy Oliver. ‘‘Away From Her’’ director-writer Sarah Polley is nominated in the adapted screenplay category.

Four nominated screenplays for which women can claim sole writing credit is a record.

After weeks of announcements about who would be performing and presenting at the Grammys, now they begin for the Oscars!

And it's only fitting the duo that got shafted at the Grammys is the first performer announced this week for the Oscars: Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the duo from the film "Once."

Oscars show plans: Back to Plan A!

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Oscar’s ‘‘Plan A’’ is on.

‘‘It’s terrific. We don’t have to worry about people crossing picket lines,’’ show producer Gil Cates told scores of Academy Awards workers today. ‘‘We don’t have to worry about doing the ’B’ show.

‘‘We’re doing the ’A’ show.’’

Jessica Alba dazzles nerds at Tech Oscars

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — At the first Academy Award presentations of the year, 20 computer geeks graciously accepted honors for their work on particle flow simulation technology — stuff that makes water scenes in the movies look more realistic.

With an end to the writers strike in sight, and the prospect of a reassuringly stylish Oscars ceremony on the minds of most everyone in the industry, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts kept its Scientific and Technical Awards dinner Saturday night as charmingly unglamorous as ever. A magician provided the pre-meal entertainment, Jessica Alba showed up to present the awards — and be gawked at — and nerddom was held up as something to celebrate.

‘‘Fluid effects rock and all of us who work in fluids know this,’’ one honoree, Nafees Bin Zafar, said earnestly.

The swag grab has already begun. This report tells of special shopping sessions set up for Tom Cruise, Marion Cotillard, will.i.am and even Bono's wife — but it's not what you think: "You'd expect Bono's wife to be picking up a few free goodies herself, but instead Ali Hewson was there in an official capacity with her clothing label Edun. When asked about her famous husband, Ali joked 'I'm married to Sting, don't tell Trudie!' "

Best picture slate sparkling, but tough to call

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By STEPHEN GALLOWAY

A strange thing happened on the way to the Oscars: The usual bloated ‘‘awards-worthy’’ films got weeded out and a spectacular slate of nominees were chosen in their place.

‘‘It is one of the highest-quality lineups we have seen for best picture in a long time,’’ says Paul Webster, one of the producers of ‘‘Atonement.’’ ‘‘There is no obvious film that has been ’lobbied’ into the best picture group. All sustain themselves on their own merits. If I were to think about the five best English-language films of the year, they are up there.’’

Webster is not alone in that belief. Widespread praise has been lavished on all the nominees — not just his own film, but also ‘‘No Country for Old Men,’’ ‘‘Juno,’’ ‘‘There Will Be Blood’’ and ‘‘Michael Clayton.’’

The Oscars are still happening, so the producers say, but the writers strike has inflicted some small damage: One of the night's hottest parties has been canceled in support of striking writers.

Academy president Sid Ganis vowed Monday that the 80th Annual Academy Awards will take place as scheduled Feb. 24 at the Kodak Theatre, strike or no strike, as he welcomed this year’s Oscar hopefuls to the traditional nominees luncheon. ‘‘There’s no doubt about it. We’re going to do it,’’ he said to an outburst of applause.

Optimism on menu at annual Oscar luncheon

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By DAVID GERMAIN

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Optimism was in the air Monday among Academy Awards nominees — both on their films’ prospects and the chances that Hollywood’s crippling writers strike will end in time for the Oscars show to go on as planned.

‘‘I’m a positive individual. I think the sun will come up tomorrow,’’ said Viggo Mortensen, a best-actor contender for the crime tale ‘‘Eastern Promises,’’ who was among about 120 nominees attending an annual Oscar luncheon. ‘‘I think that there will be a proper Oscars, and I think that ’Eastern Promises’ has a good chance to win an award.’’

You could throw your own Oscar night party, spending hours baking little Oscar-shaped cookies and whatever is Javier Bardem's favorite snack. Or you could actually enjoy yourself and hit the Oscar Night America party at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Oscars producer Gil Cates has a lot on his plate

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By SANDY COHEN

LOS ANGELES — It’s another working lunch for Gil Cates. Sitting behind a broad desk in his office at the Geffen Playhouse, the theater he helped establish 12 years ago, Cates faces a wall of autographed posters from past shows. Beside him is a computer screen covered with tiny bits of paper bearing inspirational quotes.

‘‘My favorite,’’ Cates says, ‘‘is from Pablo Picasso, who said, ’I am just an entertainer who understood his time.’’’

Cates can relate. A director and producer of theater, film and television, Cates, 73, has produced more Academy Awards telecasts than anyone else. This year, he’s taking on his 14th Oscar assignment. But there’s more on his plate than that and a grilled-cheese sandwich.