Elton John is hosting his 28th annual AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party this Sunday (Feb. 9), but this is no ordinary ceremony for the legend. This year, John and Bernie Taupin’s Rocketman tune, “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” is up for best original song.
What would it be like if John rolls up to his viewing party with an Oscar in hand? “That’s just celebration on top of celebration,” John’s husband, David Furnish, who was among the film’s producers, told Billboard at a preview of the star-studded evening. “I don’t want to jinx anything, and don’t like to count the chickens before they hatch. It is just such a great honor to be nominated, and the film has been so well-received.”
The celebratory evening, sponsored by IMDb, Walmart and Neuro Drinks, will be fun regardless of the outcome. For the 16th year, Chef Wayne Elias and Crumble Catering will design and prepare dinner for the guests to enjoy while watching the Academy Awards live telecast.? The party continues well into the night, with an after-show performance from British actor and singer-songwriter Sam Fender.
“Elton has a great eye and ear for musical talent, and Sam Fender is someone that he hand picked,” Furnish said of Fender. “He’s a fantastic, young, exciting talent, great live musician.”
The event, which includes a live auction, will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which works in over 23 countries to provide treatment, testing, care and support to people at risk of or living with HIV.
The organization’s mission hits home for the hosts of the evening, the cast of Queer Eye, whose own Jonathan Van Ness revealed his HIV positive status back in September.
His cast mate, Bobby Berk, told Billboard that he is simply “so proud” of his pal’s openness. “People think, ‘Oh, it’s a death sentence.’ But it’s not,” he explained. “It’s manageable just like any other disease, so the problem is the right healthcare and funding.”
“Jonathan has been so brave in the past year,” Furnish added. “It is scary to reveal your status, but the more people who do it, the more it becomes a normal thing and a thing you live with every day of your life. He does it so proudly and so bravely. He sets a great example that others can follow.”
“Elton and I are both big fans of Queer Eye, and the way they go into the heart of America as gay men and show and talk about our common humanity,” he continued. “We see them as bridge builders, and what we try to do as a foundation is we try to be bridge builders and we try to go in and reach out with a caring, compassionate hand.”
The 2020 Oscars will be broadcast live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday (Feb. 9) at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT on ABC.