A spokesman for the academy did not reply to a request Monday seeking comment on the
The Obama moment brought a level of novelty to a ceremony that many thought flagging, and a degree of energy to a category whose winner was widely forecast. For the White House, it provided a platform at a show watched by more than 40 million people in this country and hundreds of millions more around the world.
But not everyone appreciated the effort.
Conservative bloggers were quick to pounce on the appearance. On the Washington Post website, the right-wing blogger Jennifer Rubin called the move "downright weird" and said it made the White House seem "small and grasping." In a post on Breitbart.com, Joel Pollak labeled it "obscene."
Not all the of the naysayers were conservative pundits. On the New Yorker web site, film critic David Denby wrote "[T]he notion of an officially crowned winner about a C.I.A. rescue operation in Iran makes me...queasy," wrote Davind Denby on the New Yorker web site. "Not good, Academy. Please don’t do it again."
Zadan said he didn't think the attacks had much merit. "If there was a Republican in the White House and we had the first lady present, then the other side would have criticized us," he said. "This is just par for the course."
For its part, Obama's office said that the first lady had little desire to make a statement as much as offer a general word of encouragement.
"The Academy Awards approached the First Lady about being a part of the ceremony," Kristina Schake, communications director for Michelle Obama, said in a statement. "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."
For those wondering if it's a new trend, though, don't count on it: At the moment, the fall 2013 roster of prestige movies doesn't include many politically themed films.