Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been in talks with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to make a video appearance during Sunday’s broadcast of the Academy Awards.
Academy officials still are debating on whether Zelenskyy will indeed appear briefly on the show, sources said. It’s also not clear if he would appear live or in a taped message. Sources said the debate centers on whether the Oscars should remain apolitical as the Russian invasion of Ukraine rages on.
The Academy declined to respond to an email about this.
ABC, which is broadcasting the show, is said to be in favor of Zelenskyy, a former actor, making a statement. ABC did not return requests for comment.
Meanwhile, it’s believed that Ukrainian-born actress Mila Kunis, who raised $35 million with her husband, Ashton Kutcher, for the Ukrainian refugees, will make a statement during the awards show.
Zelenskyy has been vocal about his gratitude for Kutcher and Kunis’ efforts.
The show’s executive producer, Will Packer, told reporters during a virtual press conference: “This is a really [momentous] time in humankind history, and we’re very aware of that. And so you don’t go into a show like this, I don’t think, and not be aware of that and not find a way to respectfully acknowledge where we are and how fortunate we are to even be able to put on this show.”
Sean Penn is calling on Hollywood to boycott the Academy Awards if Zelenskyy is denied a chance to speak at the red-carpet event.
“I would encourage everyone involved to know, though it may be their moment, and I understand that to celebrate their films, it is so much more their moment to shine and to protest and to boycott that Academy Awards,” the controversial actor said in an appearance on CNN Saturday afternoon.
Penn, 61, has won two Oscars and vowed to “smelt mine in public” if Zelenskyy is snubbed by the Academy.