ABC News EP Cat McKenzie Reveals Oscars Pre-Show Behind-The-Scenes Moments

By Bill Bradley 

Before Everything, Everywhere All at Once was having a historic night at the 95th Oscars, Cat McKenzie, executive producer of GMA3: What You Need to Know and ABC News Live, was capturing everything, everywhere, all at once, on the red carpet.

McKenzie and her team, including correspondents Whit Johnson and Linsey Davis, kicked off On The Red Carpet Live: Countdown to Oscars 95 at 10 a.m. PT on Sunday, which ran until 1:30 p.m. PT on ABC and continued through 3:30 p.m. PT on ABC News Live.

During the telecast, the show covered everything from filling in viewers on what they needed to know about the nominees to interviewing the early arrivals on the red carpet, which was changed to a champagne carpet this year.


Following the ceremony, McKenzie gave TVNewser an inside look at what went into bringing the pre-show to life, how the rainy weather during the week was her biggest worry and her favorite moments from the show.

This Q&A has been lightly edited for clarity purposes.

TVNewser: How did everything go? What are you proudest of?
McKenzie: Everything went smoothly—I’m proudest of the way our team came together, especially after the rain yesterday [Saturday] to put on a great broadcast.

What was the setup like this year, and what’s different compared to last year/previous years?
The great thing about our setup this year is that we were on the other side of the carpet from where we normally are and next to a cable network’s “glambot”—it made it much easier for us to get some of the marquee guests on our show.

What’s one thing you would change for next year, and what’s one thing you hope continues in the future?
As any journalist knows, it’s all about access—the Academy is a great partner to us—but we always want more. I would love to get just a little bit of video of a rehearsal that we could tease—or some other exclusive that we can reveal the day of the show—my dream would also be to have someone or at least a camera backstage while we were on just to see more of the incredible work that goes into putting a show of this caliber on the air.

What was keeping you up at night ahead of the show? Why? How’d it go?
Definitely this year, the weather. During our rehearsal on Saturday, we had water dripping on us and the equipment. Kudos to the Academy, though. They had folks working all night long—drying out the champagne carpet and also getting the puddles of water off the beautiful red drapes.

What was your favorite moment from the broadcast? Any more insight you can give about it?
There were so many! Whit Johnson, Linsey Davis and our incredible contributors were loose and had great predictions—but my favorite moment was probably when we were interviewing Harry Shrum Jr. from Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, and the legendary actor James Hong crashed the interview. To see the respect and love the two men had for each other and to hear them talk about how excited they were about the show made us all excited.

What was the most unexpected thing to happen behind the scenes? What was your favorite thing that happened behind the scenes?
No really unexpected things—but my favorite thing was watching the crew come together. This was Whit and Linsey’s first Oscars red carpet. Watching the crew support them and them shine made me proud.

Any other takeaways you think viewers should know?
One, I could have never done this without my colleagues: my co-executive producer, John Green; senior producer Robert Zepeda; and coordinating producer Cleo Andreadis. We started working on this with our colleagues from the Academy back in October.

Two, we made a concerted effort this year in all of our coverage to celebrate the people behind the camera with our Women Behind the Lens series on GMA3 and a lot of the interviews you saw on our countdown show. I hope they felt the love as much as the big stars.

Three, I love awards shows—and getting to help celebrate all the artists and movies that we all loved this year is one of my favorite parts of my job—even when it rains cats and dogs.

Photos by Justin L. Stewart/ABC.