How Disney Will Use ‘American Idol,’ ‘The Simpsons’ and More to Promote This Year’s Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

With just a week until the 93rd Oscars ceremony on April 25, Disney is kicking the synergy machine into high gear in order to support the telecast on ABC.

The challenge is steep: As Variety recently noted, ratings for all major awards telecasts this year have been down between 50% to 60%, making a similar decline a real possibility for the Academy Awards. But the longer-than-usual Oscar campaign trail at least may have stoked some interest, along with the curiosity factor of how this year’s show — held partly at Union Station, partly at the Dolby Theatre and also remotely elsewhere — might look.

The Walt Disney Co.’s Oscars synergy plans get underway on Sunday night with the live telecast of “American Idol.” On the show, the top 12 contestants will perform Oscar-nominated songs from the past, while judge Lionel Richie will open the episode by singing “Say You, Say Me” — which earned him a best original song Oscar in 1986 (from the film “White Nights”). (Richie famously opened his acceptance speech, “Outrageous!”)

Songs set to be performed by “Idol” contestants include “This Is Me” (from “The Greatest Showman”), “City of Stars” (“La La Land”), “ (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” (“Dirty Dancing”), “On the Road Again” (“Honeysuckle Rose”), “Over The Rainbow” (“The Wizard of Oz”), “Writing’s On The Wall” (“Spectre”), “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” (“Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”), “The Way We Were” (“The Way We Were”), “Happy” (“Despicable Me 2”), “Falling Slowly” (“Once”), “Run to You” “The Bodyguard”) and “Stand Up” (“Harriet”).

At FX Networks, FXM and its classic movie block “FXM Retro” will run a “Week of Oscars” lineup of Oscar-nominated and winning films between April 19 and April 25. FX will run a three-day movie marathon, also featuring nominated and winning films, next weekend.

FXX will lean into “The Simpsons” for its Oscars tribute, launching a two-day marathon on April 24 featuring guest appearances on the animated series from Oscar-winning actors. The marathon will be split into three parts: spoofs of nominated/winning films, guest voices of nominated/winning actors/actresses and spoofs of red carpet shows.

“The Simpsons” marathon will end with the show’s animated short “The Longest Daycare,” which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013.

Freeform is also embarking on a two-day marathon of Oscar-winning and nominated films next weekend. On April 24 and 25, Disney and Pixar-oriented fare includes “Lilo & Stitch,” “Finding Nemo,” “Up,” “Mary Poppins,” “Coco,” “Toy Story 3” and “Monsters Inc.”

Hulu is focusing its Oscar tune-in efforts via a marketing campaign for Hulu + Live TV subscribers that include email, push notifications, on-channel efforts and social support. Hulu’s social team will also live tweet during the telecast.

Additionally, through ABC’s ABC Audio division, the company has premiered a six-part “Inside the Oscars” podcast, hosted by ABC News’ Ginger Zee. The podcast features reporting from The Undefeated senior entertainment writer Kelley Carter, ABC News entertainment contributor Chris Connelly, ABC News Radio entertainment correspondent Jason Nathanson and ABC News correspondent Janai Norman. The podcast, which has been posting new episodes on Thursdays, will release a final episode on April 26, the day after the Oscars.

The 93rd Oscars airs Sunday, April 25, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC, and will also be seen in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

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