Hugh Jackman

By  February 28, 2009

Hugh Jackman

This year’s Oscars won’t just focus on the arty, high-minded films that are nominated, but also the fun flicks that drew the year’s biggest audiences, the show’s producers tell TVGuide.com.

The fan-friendly vibe starts with the host of Sunday’s 81st Academy Awards — X-Men star Hugh Jackman.

“[The Awards are] celebrating the community of people who make movies and people who go to movies,” producer Laurence Mark said. “[And] celebrating the connections between the people behind the scenes.”

Asked if Jackman’s status as People‘s Sexiest Man of 2008 helped him land the hosting job, Mark laughed, “It didn’t hurt!”

“The truth is, he sings, he dances, he acts — and he looks terrific in a tuxedo,” Mark added. “We will manage to use all four of those skills to our advantage, and that includes acting.”

The Oscars’ populist tone also will be evident from the films featured throughout, which will include not only those nominated, but “all sorts of other movies that people had a good time at,” executive producer Bill Condon explained.

Mark and Condon are keeping the presenters hush-hush, and a handful won’t walk the red carpet so fashionistas will have more to tune in for during the broadcast. In the meantime, rumored appearances by tween idols Robert Pattinson and Zac Efron are fueling the prospect of a fan-friendly event.

Adding to that motif will be a mid-show routine by Fatima Robinson, who worked with the producers on their Oscar-winning film Dreamgirls. This year’s musical medley will also feature at least one surprise guest in place of Peter Gabriel, who dropped out to protest the newly reduced performance time. He wrote WALL-E‘s “Down to Earth,” one of the three nominated songs this year.

M.I.A., who contributed to Slumdog Millionaire‘s soundtrack and performed nine months pregnant at the Feb. 8 Grammys, may also appear. But it will be a last-minute decision since she gave birth Feb. 11.

“We’d love her to perform, we invited her, and she can perform if she is in any mood to perform, is what we said to her,” Mark said.

Do you think the fan-focused telecast will be more fun? Will you tune in?

Check out the list of nominees, fashion and videos with TVGuide.com’s complete Oscar coverage and follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/tvguide during Sunday’s show. And watch celebrity arrivals with TV Guide Network’s red-carpet coverage with Lisa Rinna and Joey Fatone at 6 pm/ET.

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