NEW YORK (AP) – It wasn’t “You’re getting a car!” But Oprah Winfrey gave TV manager Jesse Collins something equally, if not more, cool: “You can produce the Oscars!”
Emmy nominated Collins has had success over the years with the BET Awards, Grammy Awards, and various TV specials. Now he brings his magical touch to the 2021 Academy Awards thanks to a co-sign from the Queen of All Media.
“I received an email from Oprah that said, ‘What’s your phone? “Collins recalled The Associated Press.” She had a conversation with Bob Iger and Disney, and she recommended me for the Oscars.
“It’s interesting because (the academy and I) had met over the past few years, but then this was the year. I think the Oprah stamp definitely helped move it forward, ”he added. “It’s like the greatest reference you could ever have. You know, on a job reference you put your mom and your best friend who you know won’t say anything stupid and your cousin who does a good job too. Oprah trumps all of that. “
Collins’ Oscar appearance will come weeks after the March 14th Grammys – he was promoted to co-executive producer that year – and two months after becoming the first Black executive producer Super Bowl halftime show.
“I didn’t expect them all to compete like this,” he said. “It’s a unique moment.”
He’s the busiest and most sought-after man in showbiz. The 50-year-old is the CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment, The production company he founded in 2012. He received an Emmy nomination for producing the 2019 Grammys and had great success with the Soul Train Awards, Netflix “Rhythm + flow” “Black Girls Rock!” and the three-part “The New Edition Story” which achieved record ratings for BET in 2017.
He and his all-star team achieved with last year’s BET Awards, One of the first awards to be produced during the pandemic. The event was a pivotal success as Collins and the producers put together a show of highly produced and well-done pre-recorded performances, with some focusing on the Black experience, that of the Black Lives Matter movement, civil rights and the lives of the lost highlighted for police officers including George Floyd.
“I think the BET Awards were a starting point for a lot of things. All of a sudden people just wanted to know how we did it and what made us go this route. The phone definitely lit up the day after the show, ”he said.
One of those calls came from Desiree Perez, the CEO of Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment company, which started producing the halftime show last year.
“It was life changing to work on something so prestigious with so much history,” said Collins of the show with The Weeknd. “Just seeing the machine work that holds this thing together was amazing. Now I understand how the mechanics of a halftime show work. It is nothing else. “
Next up are the Grammys, which were originally scheduled to take place on January 31st but have been delayed due to the pandemic. It is the 10th year Collins has worked on the show, where he has held positions such as segment producer, consultant producer, and producer. Actors are Taylor Swift, Cardi B, BTS, Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion and Harry Styles.
“It’s going to be entertaining. It will be all we need right now, ”he said. “That is what we have focused on and that is what we will deliver.”
Collins has a long history of working directly with musicians and booking A-listers for major events. He worked with Cardi B on both “Cardi Tries” on Facebook Watch and “Rhythm + Flow”. The latter series was a hit for Netflix in 2019 and the show’s winner – bilingual rapper D smoke – competes for two Grammys, including best rap album and best new artist.
“Rhythm + Flow” contrasts with the last few seasons of “American Idol” and “The Voice”, in which the winners have little success and the main focus continues to be on the celebrity judges.
“It’s proof of the show,” said Collins, adding that he hopes the series will be renewed for a second season. “We really wanted to create a show where the show would be a stepping stone for the artist to have a legitimate career.”
But the show has to wait until Collins’ schedule is clear. Just hours after wrapping up the Grammys, the Oscars nominees are announced: “It’s like a horse race then. The three of us (producers) come out of the gate. “
Collins is the fourth Black producer in the show’s 93rd history, and he would have completed his trifecta shortly after the April 25 event that celebrated the best film festival of the year. And then he can rest.
“When the Oscars are over, we’ll go straight to the BET Awards,” he said of the event, which normally airs in June.
“I think I’ll go on vacation to my couch. I’m going to take a heavy nap, like a nice old people nap where you say it’ll only be 15 minutes and you wake up a day later. “
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