Roy Christopher, a multiple Emmy winner and California State University, Fresno alumnus (1957 and ’61), is designing the set for Feb. 24’s ABC telecast of the 80th Academy Awards presentation from Hollywood.
His design evokes an engraving of by the 18th century Italian printmaker Giovanni Battista Piranesi, with classical columns updated to modernistic representations of Oscar statuettes, which won’t always look that way.
Christopher says the five dramatic columns “can be covered with architectural sleeves, affording unlimited design opportunities. These columns will also fly out, leaving the stage available for other settings to appear.”
Planning an Academy Award set is “a long journey and a big challenge,” said Christopher. “First you have to look at what you’ve done and what others have done.” What follows, he added, is a process of “sketching and resketching and abandoning and trying new ideas until something just says to you, ‘That’s it.'”
The Piranesi inspiration, he said, “needed something cleaner and more contemporary.” It also had to have “my own trademark touches of retro because I believe the movies represent the present and the past.”
“Hopefully an environment of contemporary, light-hearted glamour will fill the stage,” Christopher said.
Christopher has won seven of TV’s most prestigious prizes and 17 Emmy nominations for designing the look of Oscar presentations. He has been nominated for 19 other Emmys, winning twice.
His TV work has included the series “Frasier” and “Murphy Brown,” and specials starring Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore and Mikhail Baryshnikov
Christopher’s distinguished career was recognized with an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree, presented by Fresno State and the California State University at Fresno State’s 2007 commencement. He also won a Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award for set design of the 2007 run of “Can-Can” at the renowned Pasadena Playhouse.
Christopher’s most recent Oscar set design in 2006, replicated Fresno’s Tower Theatre, where he remembered seeing movies before and during his time at Fresno State.
Christopher’s wife, Dorothy, whom he met when they were attending Fresno State, will be a consultant to the designers of the green room – where presenters wait to go on stage – at this year’s Oscar presentations. Dorothy Christopher has been the principal green room designer for four Academy Awards shows.
Roy Christopher —
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences —