Craig Zadan and Neil Meron producing Oscars

On Thursday, the motion picture academy announced that the producing team of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will oversee the 85th annual Academy Awards, set for Feb. 24. While the pair, who are partners in Storyline Entertainment, has not been involved with the Oscarcast in the past, they executive produced 2002 Best Picture champ “Chicago.” 

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In making the announcement, newly elected academy president Hawk Koch said, “Craig and Neil are forward thinkers who bring a unique perspective to the Oscar show. Their enormous collective talent, coupled with their love of film, serves our show perfectly.” Koch has only been on the job since Aug. 1. Outgoing president Tom Sherak had tried to line up “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels or academy governor Sid Ganis to oversee the big show. 

Zadan and Meron, who produced the 2005 GLAAD Media Awards, said in a statement, “We are very excited to collaborate with Hawk and everyone at the Academy to produce this year’s Oscars. We hope to utilize our experience in producing features, TV and theater to bring something fresh and special to this incredible awards show. When we filmed ‘The Bucket List,’ we made our own personal bucket list, and producing the Oscars was #1. It’s truly a great honor.”

Count on music being a big part of this year’s kudocast. Besides “Chicago,” they also over saw the remake of “Footloose” (Zadan had worked on the original in 1984) as well as “Hairspray.” They met while working in the theater and recently returned to their roots to produce the Tony-winning revivals of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Promises, Promises.” And on TV, they are represented by “Smash.” In all, their work has earned 73 Emmy nominations, 12 Tony nominations and seven Grammy nominations. 

Perhaps Queen Latifah, who reaped an Oscar bid for “Chicago,” appeared in “Hairspray” and headlines their upcoming TV remake of “Steel Magnolias,” is on their list of possibilities for hosting. 

Zadan and Meron have ties to two recent Oscarcast producers. Bill Condon, who oversaw the stellar 2008 show hosted by Hugh Jackman, did the screenplay adapation of “Chicago” while “Hairspray” helmer Adam Shankman coproduced the 2009 awardsfest with Bill Mechanic that was emceed by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin

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