Lady Gaga Decided to Perform at the Oscars 48 Hours Before Showtime — and More Wild Stories From This Year’s Emmy-Nominated Directors

“A lot of what we do as directors is just putting out fires,” said “Ted Lasso” director Declan Lowney. Whether those are unavoidable or self-made fires, the directors at Variety’s Creative Collaborations: Directors on Directors panel all agreed that their shows and films faced serious challenges — but that didn’t stop their projects from earning Emmy nominations.

Directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton of “Fleishman is in Trouble,” Peter Hoar of “The Last of Us,” Lowney of “Ted Lasso,” Glenn Weiss of “The Oscars” and Davis Guggenheim of “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie” joined Variety’s senior artisans editor Jazz Tangcay for a conversation about their recent projects and the unexpected complications that came with them.

Preparing for a live show as big as the Oscars takes serious planning, starting as early as the day nominations come out and running all the way up to the final week before the show. For Weiss the 2023 awards ceremony was a coin flip hinging on a possible performance by Lady Gaga. In the week leading up to Oscar Sunday, Weiss was receiving word from Gaga that she might not perform.

Finally, on the Friday before the show, Gaga confirmed her performance, and it was a 48-hour rush for Weiss and his team to prep. In conversations with Gaga, she conveyed that she wanted her performance of “Hold My Hand” to be stripped-down and intimate.

“She explained to me this song was so emotional,” Weiss recalled. “And she said, ‘If I even come to do this, I want to come, I want to do the red carpet as a nominee in my glam and my makeup. But then I want to be taken back to the dressing room, take off all my makeup, put on jeans and a T-shirt and do this raw.’”

With the help of his team, Weiss was able to pivot and make this all happen for Gaga and the Oscars audience, becoming what he called “treasured moment in Oscar history.”

“For all the planning that you do on a show like that, a lot of money can be found, if you will, or a lot of really strong moments can be found if you keep looking for them,” Weiss said.

For Faris and Dayton, directing the inaugural season of “Fleishman Is in Trouble” followed its own non-linear path. Not shooting in order of episodes was difficult, but Dayton and Faris managed to make it work. “There were days where there were three different directors on the set, and so jumping to episode seven for us was probably the hardest,” Faris said. “It was really the strangest thing. It’s like having other children that we’re passing to other parents.”

And the final season of “Ted Lasso” wasn’t without their own speed bumps either. Shooting ran months over schedule, which overlapped with other jobs that cast members had already booked, forcing some actors to dip in and out of set. “Juno [Temple] had to leave 10 days after I started shooting, so we had to squeeze all of her stuff in first,” Lowney said. “A lot of it was just problem solving and putting out fires.”

These fires can be inevitable for any director, from a comedy series to a documentary. When making “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie,” Guggenheim had to stop worrying and learn to love the changes. Throughout production, he found himself disagreeing with the film’s editor Michael Harte and composer John Powell. “[Powell’s] first take on the movie didn’t work,” Guggenheim said. “I would say don’t make a documentary, and then he would bring in stuff that totally didn’t work.”

But Guggenheim was grateful to have faced challenges during shooting. “You avoid those battles, but when you have a good one, it’s the best thing,” he said. “All those things add up to truly joyful experience and I feel grateful. I want to fight someone else.”

Watch the full conversation above.

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