Oscars Say No to Zelensky

Ukraine president wanted to appear at Academy Awards ceremony
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2023 12:46 AM CST
Oscars Say No to Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during his press conference on the occasion of the Russia Ukraine war one year anniversary in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 24, 2023.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Volodymyr Zelensky has been making appearances at award shows, film festivals, and the like—but the Ukrainian president will not be showing his face at the Oscars. He wanted to make a virtual appearance at Sunday night's Academy Awards ceremony, but sources tell Variety the Academy turned him down. More specifically, the Academy turned down "WME power agent Mike Simpson," who made the request. This is the second consecutive year the Oscars have declined to include Zelensky. The report comes shortly after news broke that Zelensky invited House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to visit Ukraine. "And then after that, make your assumptions,” Zelensky told CNN in reference to McCarthy and his views on providing support to Ukraine.

Simpson represents Aaron Kaufman, who co-directed a documentary on Zelensky with Sean Penn, who has been very involved in Ukraine's efforts (and was the one to introduce Zelensky at January's Golden Globes). Penn has called for the US to increase its military aid to Ukraine, but currently, polls show support for such aid is flagging among Americans. Last year, the producer of the Oscars explained his concerns about including Zelensky in the ceremony: Hollywood, he argued, ignores wars around the world that affect people of color, but since white people are being impacted by this one, it's getting celebrity attention. No comments have been made about this year's decision. The Toronto Film Festival in September also turned down a requested Zelensky appearance. (More Volodymyr Zelensky stories.)

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