Oscar producers Mike de Luca and Jennifer Todd aren’t above the occasional beg or bribe to ensure Hollywood’s biggest night stays that way.
This is the first time producing the Academy Awards for the veteran production execs, and both were determined to find the perfect host to kick off their maiden voyage into live TV.
“We were looking for someone in that Johnny Carson, Bob Hope mold,” De Luca tells PEOPLE. “A true master of ceremonies, someone who could riff as the evening went on.”
With those qualifications in mind, De Luca says Jimmy Kimmel “fit the bill for exactly what we were looking for.”
But the talk-show host, who recently MC’d the Emmys, needed a little convincing. Positive he was the man for the job, De Luca and Todd decided to make a house call.
“Yeah, we went over to his house and groveled — and we brought him cannolis,” Todd admitted with a laugh. “We pitched him on the show, and he asked us, ‘Why would you guys want to do this?’ And we explained to him exactly our vision of wanting to do a show that’s really earnest, really fun and inspiring.”
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