The embattled Oscars telecast is scrambling behind the scenes to enlist prominent black presenters to dole out its top awards, including Best Picture, sources told Page Six.
“The Oscars are looking for a black celebrity to give out the Best Picture award,” one source said of the buzz out in Hollywood. The insider added, “Names they are talking about include Oprah Winfrey and Morgan Freeman.”
Another name on the academy’s list had been Will Smith, sources said. But the “Concussion” actor revealed Thursday on “Good Morning America” he’ll join his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, in boycotting the show. The academy is under fire for failing to nominate any black actor for the second year in a row.
“We’re uncomfortable to stand there and say that this is OK,” Smith told Robin Roberts, before joking, “My wife’s not going. It would be awkward to show up with Charlize [Theron].”
Music legend Quincy Jones revealed on Wednesday he was approached to be a presenter with Pharrell Williams and rapper Common. But he said, “I’m going to ask [them] to let me speak for five minutes on the lack of diversity. If not, I’m not going to [present].”
Mark Ruffalo — who’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor in “Spotlight” — said Thursday he was debating a boycott before backpedaling. “I’m weighing it,” he said in a BBC interview about possibly not attending the Feb. 28 show. “If you look at Martin Luther King’s legacy . . . the good people who don’t act are much worse than the wrongdoers who are [purposely] not acting, and don’t know the right way.” He later tweeted, “To clear up any confusion. I will be going to the Oscars in support of the victims of clergy sexual abuse and [in support of] good journalism.” His movie centers on a church sex scandal.
A rep for the awards didn’t get back to us, and reps for both Winfrey and Freeman said they have not heard of any offers to present.