Oscars 2021: "Rushed" In Memoriam Segment Explained by Producer

The 93rd Academy Awards only got a fraction of the viewers last year's awards received. Even then, the few who tuned in had plenty to say about the ceremony itself. Many say the event was botched from the get-go, culminating in a scheduling move that bumped the Best Actor Oscar to the end in anticipation of the late Chadwick Boseman winning it — even though the award eventually went to Thor star Anthony Hopkins.

Then there was the annual In Memoriam segment, which blew by in the blink of an eye, with the tribute for certain actors and crew members lasting just a fraction of the second. Monday, a producer behind the simulcast said the video was meant to be paced to the song chosen for the moment, another point of contention amongst those tuning in.

"The in memoriam is always a tough nut to crack," ABC unscripted EVP head Rob Mills tells Variety. "This year we chose to focus on honoring those who we have lost rather than a performance. Once a song was chosen, they timed the pace to the tempo."

Though the producers of the show had to make certain tweaks for the broadcast to happen in a post-COVID world, the In Memoriam was one of the segments that was always safe. Academy president David Rubin told the Wall Street Journal last week the video would remain as usual. Judging by this year's response, however, that doesn't appear to necessarily be the case.

"It's a segment of the show that, although started later than people probably think in terms of the lengthy history of the awards, is one that I imagine the audiences will expect to see for all eternity," Rubin told the paper. "It has evolved into not just a parade of famous faces but a way of honoring much lesser-known film professionals who are equally important."

The segment has been a mainstay at the annual gala since the 1990s and was largely developed by producer Michael J. Shapiro as a way to those in Hollywood who died in the year leading up to the Oscars. "There were some people who said they cried when they looked at some of the images," he told the Journal. "I love that I was able to touch somebody with images of people that we grew up with in darkened theaters."

Shapiro added, "I said, 'It should be an affectionate goodbye to all of these people, and we should see them when they were at their very best.'"


If the video clip goes by too fast for you, you can see the entire gallery of those lost in the past 14 months on the official site for The Academy here.