Oscar: Woody Allen’s Only Oscar Appearance

Despite numerous Oscar awards and nominations, actor-director Woody Allen made his first appearance at the Oscars in 2002, not to collect one, but to deliver a love poem to New York, a city celebrated in so many of his movies. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Allen’s graceful appearance became a highlight of the show.

Among the most pressing questions after the ceremony was now on earth did the show’s first-time producer, Laura Ziskin, persuade notorious Oscar-avoider Allen to attend Allen had not even been present at the show in which it was predicted Annie Hall would win Best Picture and Best Director. “That was just a miracle,” Ziskin told the L.A. Times. “Every Oscar show producer has wanted Woody Allen.” Early on, Ziskin wanted to do a film about New York City and integrate it into the show. Ziskin then asked her friend, director Nora Ephron, to put together the film, and she wanted Allen to introduce Ephron’s montage.

With the intervention of DreamWorks’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, who has been distributing Allen’s films, Ziskin’s wish came to fruition. But Allen won’t let Ziskin tell anybody–even ABC network didn’t know. Allen arrived half an hour before the show and slipped in through the rear entrance to Ziskin’s office until it was time to go onstage, and he left immediately afterwards. There was no script, no TelePrompTer. For a live TV show, it was most thrilling.

Backstage, Allen said he “felt honored to do it.” He explained: “I’m not a big awards person, so when I had an opportunity to do this for the city, it was a different thing. I was able to just talk about New York City and show it in a light that I sincerely feel about it.” Allen said he would not avoid shooting the New York skyline without the World Trade Center towers for his next project. “I feel it’s ridiculous to pussyfoot around and reframe the shots and not show it,” Allen said. “It’s a terrible tragedy, but it’s reality. New York still has a spectacular skyline, and I’m sure what they build in its place will enhance it.”