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Oscar night set to be magical!

2015-02-18 06:00

Los Angeles — Lady Gaga. Jennifer Hudson. Common and John Legend. Adam Levine. Rita Ora. Tegan & Sara. Tim McGraw.

This isn't the lineup for an upcoming pop concert, but rather for Sunday's Academy Awards.

"We want to entertain," said Neil Meron, producing his third consecutive Oscar ceremony with Craig Zadan. "And there's no better entertainment than to do it with music."

Host Neil Patrick Harris will open the show with a musical number, the producers said: an original song by the Oscar-winning writers behind Let It Go. Called Moving Pictures, the song will set a "subliminal theme" for the evening, Meron said.

"It really is celebratory about movies and yet it's kind of cheeky in a way," he said. "But yet it has a beautiful musical motif which... we integrate throughout the show as kind of a call-back theme."

Added Zadan: "We didn't want to do a musical number that could have been on the Tonys, or anywhere else for that matter."

"It's a multimedia musical number," he said, "something that we've not done before."

Music is part of the production pair's professional DNA, though. The two produced the The Sound of Music and Peter Pan live TV specials, as well as the movie musicals Hairspray and Chicago, which won the best picture Oscar in 2003.

The producers said they started booking musical acts even before they learned the year's nominees. But they were delighted with the nominated original songs.

"We were smiled upon in that respect," Meron said.

A spate of stars will bring those songs to life on the Oscar stage.

The performers

Common and Legend are set to perform their song, Glory, from Selma. Levine will sing Lost Stars from Begin Again. Ora will take on Diane Warren's song from Beyond the Lights, Grateful. Tegan & Sara will join with The Lonely Island for The Lego Movie song, Everything is Awesome. McGraw will perform Glen Campbell's song I'm Not Gonna Miss You, from the documentary about his struggle with Alzheimer's, Glen Campbell... I'll Be Me.

The producers wouldn't say what Hudson, Gaga and other entertainers, including Jack Black and Anna Kendrick, will sing.

Suspense about their performances will have to stand in for the lack of suspense for most of the acting categories. Patricia Arquette of "Boyhood" and J.K. Simmons of Whiplash have locked up supporting-actor awards all season, and Julianne Moore is shoo-in for the best-actress Oscar for Still Alice.

The lead actor competition has some excitement, with Michael Keaton of Birdman and Eddie Redmayne of The Theory of Everything splitting many of the early honours.

Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead all nominees with nine bids apiece, including best picture, director, cinematography and original screenplay. Also up for best picture are American Sniper, Boyhood, 'The Imitation Game, 'The Theory of Everything, Selma and Whiplash.

Among the highlights of last year's top-rated ceremony was host Ellen DeGeneres' surprise pizza delivery and superstar-selfie moment. Meron and Zadan wouldn't say what antics are planned this year — if they're planned at all.

"Everyone thinks that we pre-planned the selfie and pizza thing exactly the way they happened last year, but we didn't!" Zadan insisted, detailing the various ways the bits could have gone wrong: "Nobody takes a piece of pizza, and then it's weird. Ellen is standing there with pizza."

But they do promise real magic on Oscar night. After all, host Harris is a magician.

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