How Neil Patrick Harris Is Preparing For The Oscars

“Channing Tatum’s in the house. So it’s going to get a little crazy.”

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

When Neil Patrick Harris takes the stage at the Dolby Theatre on Feb. 22 to host the 87th Academy Awards, it will be his tenth time as the emcee of an awards show. He’s hosted the Tony Awards four times and the Emmy Awards twice; in 2010, he hosted the Video Game Awards; in 2009, he hosted the TV Land Awards; and in 2008, he even hosted the World Magic Awards.

Clearly, he knows how to host.

Standing at the helm of the Oscars, however, is not only the pinnacle of awards show host-dom, it has been something of a dream of Harris’ for a long time. Just days before his biggest hosting duty ever, the actor talked to BuzzFeed News via phone about being the first out gay man to take on the role, how his past experience will help him tackle the big night, and (yes, of course) Channing Tatum.

Hosting the Oscars has been, at least from the outside looking in, such a thankless job. So why has this job has been on your bucket list?

Neil Patrick Harris: I’ve always admired the P.T. Barnums and the Kermit the Frogs and the masters of the ceremonies. I don’t know why. I’m happiest when I’m hosting the party and explaining the game and making sure that everyone’s feeling comfortable in their surroundings. That was always something I looked up to when I saw Billy Crystal do it, or Johnny Carson.

I think the job of the host is to set a tone and then try to maintain or alter it, depending on the circumstance. I think I have a reasonably good ability to sense whether things are going well or need to go differently. And the awards show evening forces you to make decisions quickly, and that’s a bit of the charge.

Neil Patrick Harris hosting the 2013 Tony Awards, and the 2013 Emmy Awards Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images; Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Though the Tonys and the Emmys are very different beasts from each other — and from the Oscars — what did you learn about yourself from hosting those two shows that you’re applying to this job?

NPH: Well, they are really different. All of them. I think you have to make sure that you’re honoring the specifics of the genre as opposed to just doing the same thing every time. So with theater, it’s much easier in certain ways because it’s a show for performances by people who do those things — performances — all year long. And they are very excited to be showing it to a massive audience and are well-rehearsed. And the Emmys is totally different. It’s very, very disparate; lots of small, little tribes of gypsies that only interact with themselves, all put together in one giant room to mingle and be judged. You have to figure out how to embrace all of that, which is a very, very wide berth, especially given the landscape of television these days.

The movies, it seems, is kind of in between. It’s a smaller number of films that are all highly regarded, and have been for months or more. And so I have to figure out a way to entertain the people in a cinematic way more so than a song-and-dancy, hardworking kind of way, while still maintaining some sense of legitimate live entertainment.

I’m thankful that I have the Tonys and the Emmys as notches on my belt, as it were, so that I’m familiar with the vocabulary of it. I know how to walk up the aisle while reading a little teleprompter being carried by a guy holding a big giant camera rig. The first time you do that, it’s a very bizarre experience. And the 10th time, it’s less daunting.

Another major difference between the Tonys, the Emmys, and the Oscars is that there is such a long campaign season for the Academy Awards, with so many precursor awards now. Have you been paying much attention to that?

NPH: A fair amount of attention, and it’s changed from years past. Before, I would be interested to know who won what before just so I could win my Oscar pool. Now I’m less interested in who wins awards, and I’m more interested in who tells what jokes at award ceremonies because I don’t want to be too redundant. The Oscars is the last one of the season, so all Golden Globes jokes have already been said. So you have to find new angles for things — or just repeat Amy [Poehler] and Tina [Fey]’s jokes verbatim and hope that the section of the viewing audience never watched [the Golden Globes].

Are you caught up with all the nominated films? Have you watched all of them?

NPH: I haven’t watched all of them. I’ve watched most of them. Slowly checking them off the list.

Are you watching the short films?

NPH: Not watching the short films. Not yet. I may do that. I might have a DVD that has all the films. Thankfully, I don’t have to be quite the historian. I just get to make jokes about people that have silly names.

Neil Patrick Harris performs during the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7, 2010 Kevin Winter / Getty Images

So you are, as best I can tell anyway, the first out gay man to host the Academy Awards. You did that great bit at the Tonys about how Broadway is not just for gays anymore, but I’m wondering how you might be addressing the fact that for many, the Oscars are sort of seen as the gay Super Bowl.

NPH: (Laughs) I always think of the Tonys that way. I had given that aspect of what I’m doing for the show very little thought because there have been people before me: Ellen [DeGeneres], and Jane Lynch hosted the Emmys. It’s culturally so mainstream that it feels irrelevant to make comment on. That being said, Channing Tatum’s in the house. So it’s going to get a little crazy.

The Oscars producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who are running the show for the third time in a row this year, told me that they had talked with you about hosting the Oscars the last few times they’ve produced. But, because you had very recently hosted the Tony Awards and/or the Emmy Awards, it was just too close to the Oscars until this year. Was that one of the reasons you put a stop on hosting other shows for a while, so that you could clear your schedule?

NPH: Not really. I just didn’t want to feel like my presence had been overstayed. I don’t have much interest in competing against myself in things. So even hosting the same award show in subsequent years becomes its own mind-fuck a little bit, because you don’t want to do the same thing, but you don’t want to be too different. And so I would withdraw a bit just for my own creative protection more than anything.

I think what helped me this year was just having a larger presence in film as an actor. So it seemingly gave a bit more validity to my being part of this amazing group of talented people. Having done Gone Girl, having defecated in a derby for a Seth MacFarlane film — it’s those kind of moments that really thrust you into the short list at the Oscars, apparently.

So, the day of the ceremony, what will your routine be?

NPH: You need to have gotten as much rest as possible. Hangovers — not a good friend, the day of. I try to structure my day of to have as few variables as possible. So I try to get to the theater as early as possible or stay really close to it. And then I do a vocal warm-up. My vocal coach, Liz Caplan, has a great breathing warm-up that gets the breath lower into your body, keeps you kind of moving and aware of how you’re taking in breath. ‘Cause when you get nervous, you tend to hold your breath or lock your body, and that is less than effective.

Neil Patrick Harris sits with the nominees of the 87th Academy Awards on Feb. 2, 2015 Kevin Winter / Getty Images

At the nominees luncheon, you tweeted something that alluded to what people have been saying about the lack of diversity among the nominees. Is that a preview of what you may address on the show?

NPH: Uh, there’s lots of big-picture things that have happened this year that will be fodder for comedy or conversation. But I just — I actually was hoping that I was gonna turn and take a selfie that would include all of the nominees, but the light had washed out everyone else’s faces, and it seemed like a funny way to reference that conversation without being too heavy-handed about it.

And finally, are you keen on hosting the Grammys so that you can get a hosting EGOT?

NPH: (Laughs) I’d host the Grammys, sure. That would be dope. I think that’s how I’m supposed to say it. That would be dope, yo. However, I’m very afraid of the LL Cool J. I think there’s some mafia business going on there, and so I would never dare try to remove him from said position. But, assuming that his show only runs on CBS for another 10, 11 years, I’m hoping to host the Grammys in 2032.

The 87th Academy Awards air on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC.

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This Is What Goes On Inside One Of The Biggest #Oscars Parties In…

Actually watching the Academy Awards at a huge Hollywood viewing party is easier said than done.

Inside the party. Not pictured: me. Jamie Mccarthy / Getty

An Oscars viewing party is only as good as the people you’re watching with. Do they know when to be snarky and when to keep silent? (Julianne Moore is speaking. That means you are not.) Do they get appropriately emotional at the right moments? (When David Oyelowo cries, you cry too.) Have they seen most of the nominated films, or are they at least willing to withhold judgment based on a single clip? (I sat through The Judge, and I have earned your respect.)

Which is to say, a lot can go wrong. After all, there’s a reason I’ve taken to hosting a viewing party for one where the only mandatory attire is sweats and the only distraction is my own tweeting. Nevertheless, this year, I ventured out into the world outside my apartment for a chance to check out Elton John’s annual Oscars viewing party, a fundraiser for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and an excuse to rent a decent tux.

First things first, the Elton John AIDS Foundation does amazing work, having raised more than $45 million, according to a publicist. That’s not really surprising given the fact that the viewing party is punctuated by stars like Alec Baldwin and Sharon Osbourne asking attendees to dig a little deeper into their pockets. Guests’ pledges are also projected onto a large screen, which adds incentive to make a big donation. (I know exactly how much you gave, Chris Colfer, and I’m proud of you.)

I acknowledge the great cause, because regardless of my personal experience at the Elton John viewing party, I’m glad that it happens every year. But since you asked, my personal experience was actually rather uncomfortable. When I first arrived, I milled about trying to go against my better judgment and make conversation with strangers. I did engage Lisa Rinna for a few seconds before realizing I had nothing particularly interesting to say, aside from complimenting her dress. And I managed to sneak a peek at Aaron Paul’s ballot, but only after I’d turned mine in.

Eventually, we were escorted into the dining room where the dinner and viewing party would take place. And that’s when things took a turn. I quickly realized my table was chatty. Listen, I am not an antisocial monster. I think it’s nice when the people around me want to know my name and what I do for a living and where I got my tux. (Men’s Wearhouse, thank you very much.) But this is the Oscars. This is the one night of the year I actually care about watching TV live and sharing my opinions with the internet, because I’m a millennial. The people at my table were more interested in loudly talking about how they hadn’t seen the vast majority of nominated films. Ida is streaming on Netflix, people! Come on.

A table inside the party. (Not my table. If I were sitting with Gigi Hadid, don’t you think I would have mentioned that?) Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty

I tried to focus on the show, but it was increasingly difficult to hear. (With each drink, the woman next to me was becoming drunker and drunker and louder and louder, which might have had something to do with that.) I took note of the fact that Gillian Anderson and JC Chasez were sitting at a table together, and I desperately looked for reasons to join them. Can you imagine how well-timed and expertly delivered Gillian Anderson’s barbs are? I can just see JC Chasez throwing his head back with laughter.

I continued to live-tweet the drunken exploits of my neighbor and tried to mentally will Sir Elton John to turn up the audio so I could actually hear the broadcast. Things reached their nadir at my table when John Legend and Common performed “Glory” — which was, to be clear, the highlight of the Academy Awards themselves — as another woman at the table rolled her eyes, accused people of fake crying, and loudly lamented the public conversation about racism in Hollywood that Selma‘s snubs had inspired.

I wish I could say I handled this all better than I did. I asked her what her issue was with “Glory,” and she claimed she didn’t have one, just that it had to win the Oscar for Best Original Song because people were so angry about the film not getting other nominations. And when it did win, she kept repeating “no surprises here,” before muttering something to her friend about having to give the blacks something. “I’m not going to sit here with a racist,” I said to no one in particular, before getting up and walking away. (I am a man of honor, but one who is also terrified of confrontation.) I never returned to my table, watching the rest of the broadcast from the cocktail area. My biggest regret is that I didn’t actually try to engage with that woman over her racism, and my second biggest regret is that I left the table before dessert was served.

That uncomfortableness at my table was luck of the draw: I happened to be at a viewing party with the wrong people. (And to be clear, not everyone at my table was terrible! But as with any family gathering, the drunkest and the most racist attendees always get the most attention.)

Once the show was over, I quickly discovered that the Elton John Oscars viewing party is a lot more fun once the actual viewing portion ends. As is the case with any Hollywood party, I spent most of my time walking around, silently acknowledging the presence of various actors (it was basically a shit ton of TV people, who are often considered to be less important than movie stars; but I happen to watch more TV than movies, so nyah), and wondering how long the valet line would be (it ended up being not so bad. I stood next to Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller, who is always a hoot, bless her heart).

Ultimately, I feel very lucky that I was able to experience a glamorous Hollywood night, but I was also comforted by the fact that my sweats were waiting for me at home.

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No One Should Have Been Surprised Lady Gaga Slayed At The Oscars

Mother Monster has ALWAYS been the best.

1. So you probably saw Lady Gaga’s EPIC tribute last night to The Sound Of Music.

ABC / Via ET

If not, watch the full performance ASAP here.

2. Like, Gaga came out in this stunning white ensemble and BROUGHT. THE. HOUSE. DOWN.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

3. It was so powerful it legit had Julie Andrews, AKA Maria Von Trapp herself, in TEARS.

4. Strangely enough, people actually seemed SURPRISED that she killed the performance.

Anyone else shocked? @ladygaga showed exactly how classy she is tonight. Very beautifully done. Her versatility amazed me tonight. #Oscars

— nationalist909 (@Daniel Dempsey)

Is this really @ladygaga 👀 ?? I’m like super shocked right now!!!! Seriously #shocked #Oscars

— MorganMylesLIVE (@Morgan Myles)

8. So if you think Lady Gaga is just some pop star with some crazy outfits, you need to SIT YOUR ASS DOWN and receive an education about what an epic artist she truly is.

Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

9. Let’s start with her voice, because DUH. Have you heard her stripped-down acoustic version of “Edge Of Glory”?

10. How about her Grammys duet with Tony Bennett? It’s obvious that Gaga doesn’t just have a voice for pop… but for jazz and theater.

11. Now let’s go way way back, before she was famous. She basically was DESTINED for greatness, because she learned to play the piano at age four and was accepted to the Juilliard School at 11 …


However, she didn’t attend.

12. … and she also studied at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School for the Arts.

Bryan Bedder / Getty Images

13. Just check out this ethereal performance from when Gaga was at NYU. It’s clear the talent has ALWAYS been there.

14. Y’all should ALSO know Gaga signed her first record deal at the ripe old age of 19.


You were probably doing keg stands as a freshman at the same age.

15. And you want to talk talent some more? Gaga wrote her lead single “Just Dance” IN 10 MINUTES.


Can your faves even?

16. So yeah, Gaga knows a thing or two about writing and producing music — she’s churned out tracks for Britney Spears, Fergie, the Pussycat Dolls, and Jennifer Lopez, as well.

Afp / Getty Images

She ain’t just some vocalist for hire like some other pop stars out there! NOT NAMING NAMES but you know who you are.

17. But Gaga ALSO is an incredible live performer. Maybe you remember her insane dance moves… sick vocals… and crazy piano skills from her Grammys performance with Sir Elton John?

You probably should watch it. Right NOW.

18. Or what about her fiercely theatrical VMAs performance of “Paparazzi” in 2009 where she DIED ON STAGE???

19. We also CANNOT forget her truly inspired music videos. Like “Bad Romance” which has been viewed more than 600 MILLION TIMES on YouTube alone.


20. Or “G.U.Y.” which also featured The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?!?!?


21. Or how about “Telephone,” where Gaga had the balls to bring in Queen Bey as a FEATURED artist?!?!


22. We can also get statistical. Let’s start with her SIX Grammys…

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

23. … and her 13 MTV VMAs …

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

24. … and three straight No. 1 albums!!!


25. This also wasn’t the first time Gaga was called in because a major event needed a one-of-a-kind headliner. Maybe you heard about the time she played for the MOTHERFUCKING Queen of England

Afp / Getty Images

Check out her full performance here.

26. … or when she closed out NYC’s famed Roseland Ballroom with a string of seven — SEVEN!!! — sold out shows.

Roseland Ballroom

27. Basically, if you had a set of eyes and ears and were paying attention to music the past few years, last night’s performance should NOT have been a surprise.


28. So let’s recognize Gaga for what she REALLY is: the baddest, most talented chick in the GAME.


29. All together now: “YAAASS GAGA YAAASS!”


30. We can’t wait to see what you’re gonna do next.

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The Oscar nominations are in: 84th Academy Awards set for February 26th

Celebrate the movies, the actors and all the talented production team!! It’s the 84th annual Academy Awards happening on February 26th at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. The live telecast will be on ABC, 7e|4p.

Billy Crystal is host this year (original pick Eddie Murphy stepped down). This will be Crystal’s ninth time hosting the Oscars.

The nominations were announced on January 24, 2012 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater by Tom Sherak, AMPAS president, and Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence.


The Artist
Thomas Langmann, Producer

The Descenda nts
Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Scott Rudin, Producer

The Help
Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers

Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers

Midnight in Pa ris
Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers

Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers

The Tree of Life
Nominees to be determined

War Horse
Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy,

Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

Complete list here on PDF