Oscars rehire Neil Meron & Craig Zadan to produce telecast

While the recent Oscarcast produced by Neil Meron and Craig Zadan may not have had TV critics swooning, it was the first in four years to top 40 million viewers. And it scored the highest rating (26.60) since the 2004 Oscars (26.68) when the final installment of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy swept the awards. 

Such strong numbers earned the duo the right to oversee next year’s ceremony, which will take place on March 2. AMPAS president Hawk Koch made the announcement Tuesday, noting that “Craig and Neil have the overwhelming support of the Academy’s Governors to produce the Oscars again in 2014. In order to establish continuity with this year’s enormously successful show, we felt it was important to give these consummate professionals the green light now to begin creating another great evening.”

What was left unsaid was that Koch won’t be running the show as he is limited to just a one-year term, which ends this summer. Custom has been that the new president gets to pick the team to oversee the Oscars. Indeed, Koch hired Meron and Zadan 23 days after becoming leader of the organization last July 31. 

As academy executive Dawn Hudson noted in the press release, “Craig and Neil have great relationships, a sense of showmanship, and a passion for our Academy. And they’re a pleasure to work with.  All perfect qualities for our show.”

The pair, who executive produced 2002 Best Picture champ “Chicago,” gave the Oscarcast the theme of recent movie musicals. Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones performed “All That Jazz” from that film while Jennifer Hudson recreated her Oscar-winning turn from “Dreamgirls” and the cast of “Les Miserables” sang the nominated tune “Suddenly.” They also enticed Oscar champ Barbra Streisand to sing on the show for the first time since 1976. And they had both Adele and Dame Shirley Bassey belt out Bond theme tunes. 

While we don’t know what theme they will use next year, we do know the Oscars won’t be hosted again by Seth MacFarlane. The “Family Guy” creator was the brunt of most of the criticism for his questionable material, including the comic ditty “We Saw Your Boobs.” 

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