And the biggest surprise of the night goes to...Michelle Obama
February 25th, 2013
08:32 AM ET
2 years ago

And the biggest surprise of the night goes to...Michelle Obama

(CNN) - When actor Jack Nicholson stepped on the Oscar stage Sunday night to announce the nominees for best picture, few expected him to toss to a co-presenter.

"Tonight, it is my great pleasure to introduce live from the White House, the first lady of the United States: Michelle Obama," he said.

Suddenly, the first lady could be seen standing on screen, appearing from the nation's capital in a glamorous silver and black gown. Standing in the background of her cameo, which came about seven minutes before midnight on Eastern Standard Time, was a group of military aides in formal attire.

"I am so honored to help introduce this year's nominees for best picture. And to help celebrate the movies that lift our spirits, broadened our minds and transport us to places we had never imagined," she said. "This has been an exciting year for movies."

"They reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough," she continued. "And find the courage to believe in ourselves. These lessons apply to all of us, no matter who we are, or what we look like, or where we come from or who we love."

She further used the moment to thank those in the room back on the West Coast for contributing to the film industry, arguing they did "vitally important work" and promoted engagement of the arts for young people.

Nicholson then presented the nine titles and gave the spotlight back to the first lady.

"Do you have your envelope?" he asked, looking back up to the screen with Obama

"Not yet, Jack, but I'm about to," she said, as she was handed the gold envelope. "Now for the moment we have all been waiting for: And the Oscar goes to 'Argo'."

Earlier in the night, Obama hosted a dinner with her husband for visiting governors from cross the country at the White House, where she wore the same dress, designed by Indian-American designer Naeem Khan.

In a statement late Sunday night, Kristina Schake, the first lady's communications director, said the Academy Awards had approached the first lady about being a part of the ceremony.

"As a movie lover, she was honored to present the award and celebrate the artists who inspire us all – especially our young people – with their passion, skill and imagination," Schake said.

Speaking to the National Governors Association again Monday morning, Obama joked about her late night gig.

"I hope you all got some rest after last night. We had a good time," she said. "Little tired. If you noticed, I stayed up a little bit later. Little bit longer than I had anticipated but it was well worth it. "

Her surprise appearance was kept secret by the White House–even the press pool assigned to cover the Obamas on Sunday was not told beforehand about the event.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the idea for Obama to co-present the night's final award came from Harvey Weinstein, a film executive and big fundraiser for President Barack Obama. To keep it secret, Academy Award producers flew to Washington in a borrowed jet and privately met with Weinstein and staff for the first lady at the White House to work out the details.

To keep the appearance on the hush-hush, the Academy stated in a press release on the Friday before the show that Nicholson would present the best picture award with actor Dustin Hoffman. And just in case they lost the White House signal at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Nicholson was holding an envelope with the winner, as well.

"I loved that we pulled it off," Academy president Hawk Koch told The Hollywood Reporter.

Asked after the show what it was like to hear the first lady announce that "Argo" had won best picture, Ben Affleck–who starred in, produced and directed the film–said it was an honor.

"Honestly, I was just asking these two guys (co-producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov) outside, was that Michelle Obama? The whole thing kind of alarmed me at the time. But in retrospect, the fact that it was the first lady was an enormous honor and the fact that she surrounded herself by service men and women was special and I thought appropriate. Anyway, it was very cool."

George Clooney, another producer of the film, said her appearance signaled good news as they awaited the final award of the night.

"Obviously at certain points we thought that other films might win this," a reporter said at a press conference. "Could you describe when exactly you felt a tipping point in your favor?"

"Michelle Obama," Clooney said.

The moment capped a busy weekend for the first lady. She drew big laughs during her stop at Jimmy Fallon's late-night comedy show Friday when she showed off her moves in a segment with Fallon on "mom dancing."

And the White House announced that Big Bird, the longtime character from public television's "Sesame Street," teamed up with Obama to film two public service announcements that encourage kids to eat healthy and get active. The White House said the PSAs will help mark the third anniversary of the first lady's "Let's Move" campaign, a push "to ensure that all our children grow up healthy and reach their full potential."

– CNN's Alexander Mooney contributed to this report.


Filed under: Michelle Obama
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. sifto

    Rudy–what are you saying? Laura Bush has no right to her opinions and who uses her in an ad? I concede that the Obamas belong at the oscars as Hollywood elites are their biggest contributers...have some respect for a former first lady...whether you disagree with her or not...I was simply stating how CNN discriminates ....no criticism in this article about MO....

    February 25, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  2. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Webster Dictionary describes ENVY, BIGOTRY and JEALOUSY as...

    February 25, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  3. Linda

    I turned off the TV when she came on. Do these freaks have to appear EVERYWHERE???????

    February 25, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  4. Al-NY,NY

    PatheticCNN

    We need separation of Hollywood and State instead of separation of Church and State in the United States of America
    ----------

    OK, then Clint Eastwood, Kelsey Grammar, Bruce Willis, Arnold, Stephen Baldwin, and the rest of republican actors cannot be seen or heard from.....right?

    February 25, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  5. ST

    I am not against Michelle Obama though someone pointed out last week that I am and may be am jealous. That is not the case. I am not. I do wonder why Michelle as a spouse would leave her husband home thinking about major stuff like sequester and join the Holly Wood. Is this not sending different messages to people. These two people work as one person. Thats why they have been campaigning together all the time. To my opinion they should also put priorities on what to work together (no separation) for the benefit of all people. With her going to Holly Woods puts a very big question mark for many if not for the few.

    February 25, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  6. Really!

    While we're waiting fpr a looming sequester? Seriously? I'm a single mother who works for the government and might get furloughed very soon thanks to the messed up priorities of people in office...

    February 25, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  7. Levi

    Wouldn't be amazing if we had a first family that was busy running this country and trying to fix problems? I can not believe how obsessed the Obamas are with being "celebrities" and being involved with these stupid events. From Michelle being on talk shows or somehow convincing someone that she is important enough when it comes to The Oscars to be involved with the Best Picture award to Barry being involved with all of the different playoffs/tournaments.

    What a joke.

    February 25, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    I think the bangs are a little too "something's not right", too. They are a little too long. It covers her eyebrows. She looks better with the hair pulled away from her cheeks, instead of framing her eyes, nose and mouth within a tiny window.
    -------

    I have to laugh at your comment, Rudy. My husband came home from work last week sporting a new "do" himself. It was one of those "WOW...!" moments we see in commercials. He's kept his military cut for the past 30 years. This new cut went above and beyond. The good news is, it always grows back. Until the next time.

    I'm getting used to Michelle's bangs. But, I agree that I prefer her old style better. She is quite lovely either way she does her hair.

    February 25, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  9. Sniffit

    "I turned off the TV when she came on. Do these freaks have to appear EVERYWHERE???????"

    Yes. If for no other reason than it is just so unbelievably entertaining to watch conservatives' heads pop.

    Haters gonna hate. Babies gonna cry. /popcorn

    She was as gorgeous as ever :-)

    February 25, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  10. freedom

    First, she's gyrating on a late night talk show – then, she has the gall to present the best picture award at the Oscars – and violate our living rooms! Even if she was asked, it isn't appropriate. Will someone please tell Michelle Obama what her role is as first lady? She doesn't seem to have a clue. She is overstepping her bounds – just like her husband. They are the first family for the whole country – not just for their special interest groups. There are enough politics in hollywood – I would think most of the country isn't comfortable with hollywood being so closely associated with our White House and all the responsibilty it holds – or should hold.

    February 25, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Is this not sending different messages to people."

    Apparently in your little world it is.

    February 25, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  12. Moose

    nice wig

    February 25, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Will someone please tell Michelle Obama what her role is as first lady?"

    I seriously doubt she reads the blogs, Freedom. Send her a memo listing your complaints.
    Oh, that's right. Your comment was a rhetorical statement for our benefit ... yes?

    February 25, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    sifto wrote:

    puiff piece on the first lady–why did she not get dissed by CNN like Laura Bush
    Slightly different article on MO (puff piece)...

    Rudy–what are you saying? Laura Bush has no right to her opinions and who uses her in an ad? I concede that the Obamas belong at the oscars as Hollywood elites are their biggest contributers...have some respect for a former first lady...whether you disagree with her or not...I was simply stating how CNN discriminates ....no criticism in this article about MO....
    ----------------------–
    Your original post is critical of MO at least twice. All I said was that Laura Bush was kept away from public microphones for a good reason. She has demonstrated that she is woman of firm opinions. And it has been her strong opinions that have gotten her into trouble with remarks that some find too strong. She has a long history of it. Nearly every time she has spoken publicly since becoming first lady has caused some sort of controversy.

    This is no exception. She was better off keeping her mouth shut. She was compensated with an appearance fee for the piece that she did. If she had a problem, then her issue was with the owners of the video clip, not the ad producers. Failing to correctly place blame, she politely asked the ad producers to remove her. Her mistake was suggesting that the producers should have obtained her permission before using the clip. She could not have been more wrong.

    February 25, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  15. geggyg

    @rudy NYC

    The movie industry wasnt born in the US . There is even debate whether Edison actually invented the movie camera first ( he was issued the first patent though ) England claim that William Friese-Greene built the fiirst camera.
    Australia produced the first full length movie in 1906 " The Story of the Kelly Gang" and produced 16 full lenght movies before the US produced it first in 1912.
    Australia also had the first movie production company with a national and international distribution system. It was started in 1898 by the Salvation Army and was called the Limelight Department. It actually filmed the Federation of Aust Ceremony on Jan 1 1901.
    I accept the US developed the movie industry into what it is today , but thats partly because the establishment business leaders and bankers in Aust , Europe and the UK considered moves to be a fad and not worth investing in

    February 25, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  16. Al-NY,NY

    freedom

    First, she's gyrating on a late night talk show – then, she has the gall to present the best picture award at the Oscars – and violate our living rooms! Even if she was asked, it isn't appropriate. Will someone please tell Michelle Obama what her role is as first lady? She doesn't seem to have a clue. She is overstepping her bounds – just like her husband. They are the first family for the whole country – not just for their special interest groups. There are enough politics in hollywood – I would think most of the country isn't comfortable with hollywood being so closely associated with our White House and all the responsibilty it holds – or should hold.
    ----

    maybe she should just sit in the White House and make tea and cookies for her darling hubby? Isn't that what Barbara Bush did? Isn't that what good republican first ladies do? Stay at home. work the kitchen? Act like good little Stepford Wives???

    February 25, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  17. geggyg

    @ freedom
    Why wasnt it appropriate for Michelle Obama to present the award . Isnt the Oscars put on by a private organisation , dont they have a right to invite anyone they want to present an award, or do you want restrictions on business decisions . Say that you didnt like her being there thats fair , or if enough people complain to the Academy then they can decide in their best interest to invite her again or not . In your opinion how should the Acdaemy decide who is appropriate or not appropriate

    February 25, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Levi wrote:

    Wouldn't be amazing if we had a first family that was busy running this country and trying to fix problems?
    -------------------
    The Obamas just cannot do anything right with the right wing, can they? The right wing criticized Hillary Clinton for being involved with "running this country". Now you criticize Michelle Obama for not being involved with "running this country."

    "Nice try, but we gotcha."

    February 25, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  19. Woman In California

    I never watch the Oscars but I was pleasantly surprised to find out this a.m. that the the First Lady had presented. She looked amazing and extremely happy. This should drive the haters over the edge and I look forward to it.

    @ Blah, Blah, I loved your first comment on the definitions.

    February 25, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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