Before the awards, the producers revealed, DeGeneres had told a couple of stars like Streep that she’d be coming into the audience to play with them. “But nobody really knew anything,” Zadan said. “A couple of people knew Ellen was going to come out and talk to them. Meryl said, ‘Great, let’s have fun.’ But it was all improvised to a degree. When Ellen was planning the selfie, she thought it would be Meryl, and maybe Julia [Roberts]. I don’t think she anticipated that all those stars would get out of their seats and surround them.” In fact, in rehearsal, with DeGeneres’ writers sitting in for the stars, the bit was blocked out on the assumption that Streep would take the shot, although ultimately Bradley Cooper volunteered.
DeGeneres also masterminded the pizza boy gag. “When Ellen said she wanted to do it, we said we’d hire an actor, but she said, ‘No, no, no. You’re not hiring an actor. I want a real pizza delivery person,’ ” Zadan revealed. “We said that the FBI would have to do a background check. She said, ‘I don’t care. I want it to be real. I want this guy to walk in and not know he’s going to the Academy Awards.’ “