The Oscar 11: Team Aims to Revive Awards' Telecast

Having been host for the Tony Awards and a star on Broadway in the musical "The Boy From Oz," he adds: "There's going to be probably a lot of singing and dancing. If I was a betting man, I'd put a lot of money on that." (A much riskier bet would be whether he dances with those Wolverine claws.)

In addition to host duties, Jackman serves as the lead in the stage-play the producers are designing around the ceremony, which they promise will have a "let's-put-on-a-show" theme. Viewers will see the event as if they were backstage making it happen, which, Jackman says, is usually more interesting anyway.

"I think you see more going on in the wings of the stage than you do in people's dressing rooms," he says. "I love watching people just before they go on. That's where you really can see people at their rawest. It's a very intensely personal moment."

He's also aiming at keeping the notoriously overlong show somewhat shorter. "I was thinking, 'Yep, gonna be shorter this year. We're going to try to make it under 3½ hours.' And you realize just how many people have promised that in the past. I feel like a politician," he says, joking: "We're going to lower taxes, too."

Ratings worry him, and he says too many imitators have worn the shine off the Academy Awards.

"Simply put, the Oscars is the epitome of showbiz," he says. "It's the night of nights. It's the night of glamour, and it's the night where I think you want to see things that you can only see at the Oscars. I think that's been missing a little bit."

The Getaway Driver: Michael Giacchino

Assignment: Orchestra conductor

As actors and actresses flow out to present awards and winners stagger joyfully up to collect their trophies, their entrances and exits will be accompanied by Giacchino's 41-piece orchestra. Those overstaying their welcome at the microphone will be driven off by a swell of his music, too.

Giacchino is another newcomer to the telecast team, but last year, he was in the seats as a rookie nominee for writing the music in "Ratatouille." He also wrote the themes for the upcoming Star Trek remake and the TV shows Lost and Fringe.

While hurrying around the Kodak Theatre days before the telecast, he was equal parts breathlessly excited — and out of breath. He's resurrecting some of Hollywood's classic theme music for the show, re-imagining the songs in a big-band style.

"My original pitch was, 'Let's take 'Lawrence of Arabia' and do it like 'Benny Goodman' would do it, like 'Sing, Sing, Sing,' and just have fun with it.' … If you're working with really good melodies, it always works."

The Inside Guy: David Rockwell

Assignment: Production designer

Rockwell is primarily known as an architect who designs restaurants, airplane terminals and children's hospitals, but from time to time, he dabbles in dressing a stage or two, most notably for the Broadway show "Hairspray."

Creating the set for the Oscars is a kind of homecoming. Rockwell also designed the Kodak Theatre, which opened in 2001 and has been the telecast's home ever since.

"I can't complain about how much space there is in the wings, of course," he says. It can get pretty tight back there, with massive pieces of scenery needing a place to be when not onstage.

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