Oscars reject Zelensky's request to appear on live broadcast
Ukraine's President had hoped to speak during the star-studded event.
The Academy has denied Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky the opportunity to speak at the Oscars ceremony, for what will be the second successive year.
Zelensky, who has appeared on television screens across the globe since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last February, had been hoping to give a speech remotely during the broadcasting of the awards show.
Ukraine's President had just last month delivered a speech virtually at the Berlin Film Festival, and had hoped to follow up that opportunity with a remote appearance at the 95th annual Academy awards this weekend.
According to Variety magazine, Hollywood super-agent Mike Simpson, who represents stars such as Quentin Tarantino, lobbied on Zelensky's behalf to the Academy to include the comedic actor-turned-politician in the ABC live broadcast. However, the request was ultimately turned down.
President Zelensky, who has been praised for his strategic and savvy approach in dealing with international media, made the request following an alarming dip in support for Ukraine amongst the American public.
A Pew Research Study released in January found that just 20% of Americans felt that the United States government should be providing additional assistance to Ukraine, and that 26% of the public believed too much aid had been granted to the Eastern European state.
This news would have sent alarm bells ringing in the halls of power in Kyiv, with the United States being Ukraine's chief financial donor throughout the course of the conflict with Russia.
Eager to not see public sentiment shift further away from supporting Ukraine, Zelensky sought the opportunity to deliver an address at the Oscars ceremony, one of the most watched live events in the US television calendar.
With his appearance at last month's Berlin Film Festival, and having already spoken at the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals, alongside the Grammy Awards, few would have expected to see Zelensky's overture's turned down by the Academy.
The Ukrainian President had also received the backing of numerous Hollywood actors, such as Sean Penn, who has called for the U.S. government to increase its military assistance to Ukraine by providing "the delivery and supply of long-range precision missiles".
However, not everyone in the Hollywood establishment appears keen to hand the microphone over the Zelensky. The Ukrainian President's request to appear at last year's ceremony was allegedly turned down by Oscars' producer Will Packer.
Packer reportedly held concerns that the Academy was only showering Ukraine with attention because those affected by the war were white, whilst the reasoning behind this year's snub is still unknown.
The Academy's rejection will come as somewhat of a blow to Zelensky, particularly off the back of the Toronto Film Festival's refusal to allow the Ukrainian President the opportunity to speak virtually at their event.
Unlike the Academy, a spokesperson for the Toronto Film Festival did release a statement on the matter, saying that the festival "does not comment on discussions with dignitaries, government officials or international embassies".
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