For the second year in a row, the Oscars have rejected a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to appear during the award show’s broadcast, Variety reported Thursday.
Zelenskyy has appeared virtually at several high-profile award shows since his country was invaded by Russia a year ago, telling attendees and viewers about the importance of supporting Ukraine.
Variety reported that Hollywood agent Mike Simpson asked the Academy to include a virtual Zelenskyy appearance on the broadcast, but he was turned down.
Last year, Oscars producer Will Packer also reportedly rejected a proposed Zelenskyy appearance.
Zelenskyy has made appearances at the Grammys, the Golden Globes, and both the Cannes and Venice film festivals.
He is also currently in possession of an Oscars statuette: Actor Sean Penn, a staunch supporter of Ukraine, visited Kyiv in November and gifted one of his Oscars to Zelenskyy, telling him: "I'll feel much better knowing there’s a piece of me here."
(Penn previously said that he would smelt his Oscars in public if Zelenskyy wasn't on the program for last year's show.)
The Variety report noted that the Academy tends to stay out of political discussions and focus on filmmaking.
- An international Ukrainian advocacy group is calling on the Academy to review the nominations for Top Gun: Maverick, over allegations that the blockbuster film was partially funded by a Russian billionaire oligarch.
- Tens of thousands of people signed an online petition demanding that the Oscars remove Hong Kong actor Donnie Yen as a presenter on Sunday, citing concerns over his apparent support of the Chinese Communist Party.
- Naatu Naatu, the jubilant dance number from the blockbuster Indian action-fantasy film RRR, is the first song from an Indian film to be nominated for an Oscar. Despite the film’s global commercial success, it was not India’s submission for Best International Feature.