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. korkea aika

    I'm so proud of Michele Obama: She elegant, smart and married to our hard-working President. But I'm not diggin' the bangs.

    February 25, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  2. sifto

    puiff piece on the first lady–why did she not get dissed by CNN like Laura Bush di

    Slightly different article on MO (puff piece)...Negative piece on Laura Bush just last week......can CNN be any more biased?

    February 25, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  3. plain&simple

    Waiting on the haters to hate! 5,4,3,2,1....... Go!!!

    February 25, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    This is just another example of how Hollywood has become totally behind the Democratic Party, and partisan politics in America. Hollywood does NOT support America........and its core values. Time people woke up to that fact.

    February 25, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  5. Al-NY,NY

    ...and what will the haters have to say..."Moochelle?" "Stop talking about my McNuggets" "I can be obese if I want to and make others pay for my treatments?"...

    February 25, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  6. 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)...Negative piece on Laura Bush just last week......can CNN be any more biased?
    ------------------
    Had Laura Bush kept her mouth shut, then there would not have been any story about her. Besides, he legacy as first lady will be remembered for how little she said in public. She has a record of saying things that habitually people say, "Huh? Did she really just say that?" I guess that they just finnaly decided to keep her away from microphones for the duration. It would appear that someone forgot the Laura's "lockdown", but I think she was promoting her new book at the time.

    February 25, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel wrote:

    This is just another example of how Hollywood has become totally behind the Democratic Party, and partisan politics in America. Hollywood does NOT support America........and its core values. Time people woke up to that fact.
    -----------–
    Wow. Can you say "Clint Eastwoor"? If think film making is not supportive of America, then you are really mixed up. The film industry was born in the US and has been a source of industrial motivation for decades.

    For example, Star Trek's Enterprise introduced the concept of flashing lights and wailing alarms during emergencies, which are now found on fire alarm and emergency evacuation systems around the world. Heck, man, even the Bush administration adopted a color coded threat level system in the war against terrorism, comparable to Star Trek's yellow and red alerts.

    February 25, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  8. Puddin

    I thought that was a class act by Jack Nicolson. I loved Michelle Obama's dress, but the bangs are too thick and too long. (She can thank me later for my expert critique).

    February 25, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "Could you describe when exactly you felt a tipping point in your favor?"

    "Michelle Obama," Clooney said.
    -------------------------------------------------
    We thought the same thing sitting at home!
    Our First Lady looked STUNNING!! I'm not too crazy about the bangs either, however last night with her hair pulled back they looked quite elegant.
    The" Moochelle" turds on this site need to to check themeselves and see how their bodies are holding up as they apporach fifty, or forty, or even thrity. Michelle is the fittest, hippest, most intelligent and sexiest First Lady we've had in decades upon decades. That's a fact.
    Proud of you Michelle and we loved you on Fallon!

    February 25, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Al-NY,NY

    ...and what will the haters have to say..."Moochelle?"
    -------------

    It gets really old, doesn't Al? Gotta love that pseudo christian Rush Limbaugh and his cult of like minded pseudo christians showing us their........core values. You have to wonder where God fits into their lives after all. The right wing would do well to drop the "christian" from their meme. They are anything but christian. They would do well to drop the hate, also too.

    February 25, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  11. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    And what will the haters have to say...

    Well, Webster dictionary describes ENVY as a resentful emotion that occurs when a person lacks another's perceived superior quality, achievement or possession and wishes that the other person lacked it.

    BIGOTRY – the state of mind of a bigot or a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

    JEALOUSY – negative emotions, thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear and anxiety.

    February 25, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  12. It's Me

    I wonder how much that cost us the tax payers? Instead of targetig first responders, the military and other essential jobs since you proposed this sequester thing how about stop wasting our money on your "look at us" tours.

    February 25, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  13. PatheticCNN

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

    February 25, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The right wing would do well to drop the "christian" from their meme. They are anything but christian. They would do well to drop the hate, also too
    -------------------------------------------------
    One is a blatantly false claim for which I hope they "burn", the other their raison d'etre. If you take BOTH of these away there'd be nothing left of the party of Lincoln.

    February 25, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. much thunder.little rain

    she looks like she lifts weights..ck out the shoulders...impressive...

    February 25, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Please pardon previous and obvious typos. I'm trying to multi-task none too successfully.

    February 25, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Puddin wrote:

    I thought that was a class act by Jack Nicolson. I loved Michelle Obama's dress, but the bangs are too thick and too long. (She can thank me later for my expert critique).
    ---------–
    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.

    February 25, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  18. PatheticCNN

    @Blah Blah & Dominican mama 4 Obama
    It was like an Dorne Attack on Oscar's finally from White House.

    February 25, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  19. Jimm

    Wow. This is new low for Oscars. She did not accomplish anything in entertainment industry. The only thing that ties her to the world of known people is her husband. It was tasteless to let her speak. I don't have anything against her as a person, but to allow president's office into the Oscars was a disgrace and abuse of the office.

    February 25, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  20. ronvan

    AW, common folks! Where are the people with the GUTS to say what they are thinking? Using "sugesstive expressions" that only relate to a person's SKIN color, does not cover up your real thoughts! Personally, I am tired of hearing all these "terms" about OUR president and his family! What I see is a "younger" president & his family, that are enjoying life and still have some fun! MUCH BETTER than all the "older fuddy duddies", that WE continue to re elect that have problems talking, walking, etc.! They cannot even speak english just "politial-ese".

    February 25, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Please pardon previous and obvious typos. I'm trying to multi-task none too successfully.
    --------------–

    LOL. I have the same problem this a.m. (also too)....
    Memo to self: type in name before responding to others' comments else you become Anonymous.

    February 25, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  22. critical thinking

    A Surprise? What I was surprised is that she didn't fly herself, her family, her aunts and cousins out to LA to personally present. This family thinks this country is their personal play thing.

    February 25, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Dominican mama 4 Obama wrote:

    Please pardon previous and obvious typos. I'm trying to multi-task none too successfully.
    -----------------
    Okay. Happens to me all of the time, though. It's usually a result of me typing a sentence, and then going back and re-typing a few of the words to make it more concise. It's okay. We all know what you mean, and you mean well.

    February 25, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  24. Terry

    More mainstream media gushing over the Obamas.
    #Nauseating

    February 25, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  25. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Way to go Michelle! What a class act you and Barack are and role models for all Americans. Good job Affleck, Argo is a tremendous film that deserves this Oscar. The Republicans could never have nearly as much style and class as the Obamas because the GOP only has one set of constituents in mind: the filthy rich neo-cons, whose goal is to amass as much money as possible without paying their fair share of taxes.

    God bless America, the President and Michelle and the hard working federal employees and military men and women who have to worry about being furloughed from work and a reduction in pay thanks to the GOP.

    In Jesus name, Amen.

    February 25, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
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