Washington [US]: For the second year in a row, the Academy has snubbed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was hoping for a virtual spot on Sunday’s Oscar telecast on ABC following his remote appearance at the Berlin Film Festival last month.
Sources say, WME power agent Mike Simpson made a plea to the Academy to include the comedic actor-turned-politician but was shut down. The Academy declined to comment.
According to Variety, a US-based media company, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Zelenskyy has popped up via satellite at both the Cannes and Venice film festivals as well as the Grammy Awards and virtually rang the Opening Bell of the New York Stock Exchange in September.
At the Golden Globes in January, actor Sean Penn introduced Zelenskyy, who reiterated his message of the past 12-plus months that Ukraine will win the war against Russia and applauded “the free people of the free world — those who united around the support of the free Ukrainian people.”
Meanwhile, the Academy isn’t the only group to refuse Zelenskyy. In September, Zelenskyy’s team reached out to the Toronto Film Festival about the leader appearing via satellite, but they were denied.
A TIFF spokesperson said at the time that the festival “does not comment on discussions with dignitaries, government officials or international embassies.”
The spokesperson added that the festival “stands in solidarity with Ukrainians both here at home and abroad and is proud to showcase the depth and creativity of Ukrainian filmmakers at this year’s festival.”
In recent months, Zelenskyy’s team enlisted Simpson, who represents such heavyweights as Quentin Tarantino and Bong Joon Ho, to make overtures to the Globes and re-engage the Academy after last year’s rejections. While the Globes embraced the idea and gave Zelenskyy several minutes of airtime, the Academy wasn’t interested.