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Ukraine’s Zelensky reportedly is denied a cameo appearance at this year’s Oscars

A man wearing a green shirt sits at a desk with his hands folded.
The academy reportedly rejected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s request to appear at the 95th Oscars.
(Lujain Jo / Associated Press)
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This year’s awards season has come to an abrupt end for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The comedian-turned-politician was reportedly eyeing a virtual guest spot at this Sunday’s 95th Oscars but was turned down, Variety reported Thursday. WME agent Mike Simpson allegedly “made a plea to the Academy” to spotlight Zelensky but was rejected.

Representatives for the academy, WME and ABC did not immediately respond to a request for comment when separately contacted by The Times on Thursday.

Brad Paisley’s ‘Same Here’ features a verse referring to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky and a soundbite from a conversation the two men had about sharing values.

Feb. 24, 2023

Since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago, Zelensky has appeared at several high-profile awards shows and events to bring attention to the ongoing war.

In April 2022, Zelensky appeared virtually at the 64th Grammy Awards.

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“The war. What’s more opposite to music?” he said in a prerecorded message. “The silence of ruined cities and killed people. Our children draw swooping rockets, not shooting stars. Over 400 children have been injured and 153 children died, and we will never see them drawing.

Across the country, Ukrainians looked back on a year of war with both sorrow and pride as their president vowed to push for victory over Russia.

Feb. 24, 2023

“Our parents are happy to wake up in the morning — in bomb shelters, but alive. Our loved ones don’t know if we will be together again. The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence.”

The speech was followed by John Legend’s performance of “Free.” The hitmaker was joined by Ukrainian performers, including Siuzanna Iglidan, Mika Newton and Lyuba Yakimchuk. Onstage, they wore either blue or gold — the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Last year, the Ukrainian president also made a virtual appearance at the Cannes Film Festival, urging filmmakers and artists in attendance to unite in their support of Ukraine.

‘The war doesn’t let us choose who survives,’ said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the 2022 Grammy Awards.

April 3, 2022

Zelensky’s most recent awards-show appearance was at the Golden Globes in January. Introduced by Sean Penn, Zelensky expressed optimism, noting that “the time is coming” for the war to end.

“It is already clear who will win,” he said. “There are still battles and tears ahead, but now I can definitely tell you who was the best in the previous year: It was you. The free people of the free world.”

Weeks later, he returned to the film festival circuit, sharing a similar video message at the Berlin International Film Festival in February. Penn’s documentary “Superpower,” about Zelensky and the war, premiered at the festival.

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‘But it’s not me producing the Oscars,’ said Amy Schumer of her wish to include Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the 2022 ceremony.

March 21, 2022

It’s not the first time Zelensky has been shut out from the Oscars. According to the Ankler, the academy “wanted to remain apolitical” and reportedly declined a Zelensky appearance for its 2022 show. Some celebrities, however, were a fan of possibly seeing Zelensky at the ceremony.

Ahead of last year’s Oscars, co-host Amy Schumer said she wanted the Ukrainian president to be part of the show.

“There are so many awful things happening that it seems hard to focus on which one,” Schumer said on “The Drew Barrymore Show.” “I actually pitched ... a way to have Zelensky satellite in or make a tape or something just because there are so many eyes on the Oscars. I am not afraid to go there, but it’s not me producing the Oscars.”

The 95th Academy Awards air Sunday at 5 p.m. PT on ABC.

Times staff writer Christi Carras contributed to this report.

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