BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Don Mischer will direct the 85th Academy Awards telecast, telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. This marks the continuation of Don Mischer Productions’ multi-faceted relationship with the Academy, which includes producing the Oscars red carpet pre-show and producing the annual Governors Awards.
“For a very long time, we had always hoped to work with Don Mischer,” said Zadan and Meron. ‘His talent and reputation are unsurpassed and we’re so happy he will be our collaborator on the 85th Academy Awards.” READ MORE »
Ray Richmond is an AwardsLine contributor
Few living professionals have produced more live-event TV than Don Mischer, who has manned the controls at everything from Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony telecasts to Olympic Games opening ceremonies, Super Bowl halftime shows and, in 2009, a presidential inaugural celebration. Mischer – who will preside over his 13th Primetime Emmy show as producer in September –spoke with AwardsLine about the unpredictable nature of live TV, the specific challenges of the Emmys, and why he’ll be forever grateful to a fellow named Bucky Gunts.
Don Mischer: We’ve actually been on the Emmys since the beginning of June. We had several meetings with Jimmy (Kimmel) and crafted a rundown even before the nominations were announced. But in many ways, the show is shaped by the nominated work.
AwardsLine: Isn’t it frustrating to have to balance the requirement of handing out 26 or 27 awards with trying to do something that’s actually entertaining?
Mischer: Frustrating is not the word. It is, after all, an awards show. As producers, the thing we try hardest to do is keep it briskly paced and humorous. And it’s interesting, if you start the show with a certain kind of pace, it begins to pervade the evening. It manifests itself in things like people getting to the stage quicker. People don’t speak as long, because there’s a certain rhythm where it’s all short and to the point. That makes the evening fly by.
Related: Q&A: Jimmy Kimmel On Hosting Emmys
When controversy ended the short reign of Brett Ratner, who was originally chosen to co-produce the 84th Academy Awards with Don Mischer, followed by the exit of Ratner’s chosen host Eddie Murphy, it looked like this year’s Oscars were in deep trouble. But Academy president Tom Sherak quickly enlisted Brian Grazer to step in and join Mischer at the helm, and they hit the ground running, persuaded Billy Crystal to agree to host for the first time in nearly a decade and calmed the stormy Oscar seas. But until this morning’s nominations, they weren’t exactly sure just what kind of show they were gonna have. After all, the Academy instituted a new rule that allowed for anywhere between 5 to 10 nominees depending on the level of enthusiasm and first-place votes each film received — instead of the set number of 10 in the last two years or 5 in previous years. That there are 9 films that made the cut (a first for the Academy) had both producers and Sherak breathing a sigh of relief when I talked to them after the announcement. They all seemed genuinely excited at the prospects for the show.
The Comedy Awards will return for a second year, with Don Mischer back as producer. While the inaugural awards show last year was billed as an MTV Networks event and aired simultaneously on Comedy Central, Spike TV, TV Land, VH1 and Nick At Nite, this year’s ceremony was announced as a Comedy Central event and will premiere on the channel May 6. It will be taped at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom on April 28. Nominations for The Comedy Awards will be announced in early 2012.
The Brett Ratner situation is a sad mess all around. Sad for Ratner, sad for the Oscar show that he was to co-produce, and sad for the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences. The Academy in the past has weathered its share of nightmares surrounding the show, but never something quite like this. In 1967, an AFTRA strike nearly KO’d the telecast until the walkout was settled just three hours before showtime. Similarly, a WGA strike in 2008 was threatening until it was settled a few days before the airdate. In 1968, the show was nearly cancelled after Martin Luther King’s assassination but postponed for two days instead. In 1981, the Oscars were delayed a day after President Reagan was shot. As for participants, actors have refused to accept the statuette for myriad reasons, and winners have gone to political extremes in their speeches, but the Ratner situation is a new one for AMPAS.
The interesting thing is that outcries for Ratner’s ouster targeted the Academy even though Ratner’s offensive remarks were made during appearances in support of his new film Tower Heist for Universal (Friday night’s Q&A at the Arclight, where he uttered the gay slur, and Monday morning’s radio phone interview with The Howard Stern Show, where he made derogatory comments about women.) His words had nothing directly to do with the Oscars, yet it points to the power of the Academy Awards as an iconic symbol.
Ratner was an unorthodox choice to produce the Oscars. But he was part of a movement begun by the Academy last year with the selection of hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco to make the show more young, hip, and different. Hathaway and Franco bombed. But I had the pleasure of moderating a panel with Ratner for this year’s TCM Classic Movie Film Festival in April and found him exceptionally bright, informed, and savvy. I think this real movie fan would have produced a great show. I know he had great ideas for it. Despite his terrible judgment and stupid actions this week, I am sorry we won’t get the chance to see what he might have done. Ratner already was shaking things up. He changed talent bookers by hiring Melissa Watkins Trueblood over 38-year Oscar booking veteran Danette Herman, who is now just a consultant. The writing staff also is all new, and many are Ratner cronies; I doubt they’ll stay on board. That’s not a huge problem since the Academy hasn’t officially announced the team yet.
On the other hand, host Eddie Murphy also has his writers attached and they will stay on board — if Eddie stays on. Murphy, co-starring in Ratner’s Tower Heist, has appeared on many talk shows lately saying how much he is looking forward to hosting the Oscars as well as giving props to Ratner, who talked him into taking the gig. There is some media speculation that, with Ratner gone, Eddie will follow him out the door. I see that as highly unlikely — and I also don’t think Ratner himself would let that happen. Granted, Ratner’s exit caused a big ripple inside Hollywood. But Murphy’s exit would be a high-profile PR nightmare inside and outside Hollywood, creating the impression to the general public that the Oscars is in complete chaos.
So what happens now?
MONDAY PM UPDATE: As you know, Brett Ratner is producing the Oscar show with Don Mischer and emailed me tonight with his reaction to Billy Crystal’s statements regarding possibly hosting the Oscars again. Ratner says: “I didn’t see what Billy said. I’m really focused on finishing my film Tower Heist right now. [But] I was told by the Academy that I don’t have to make a decision until mid-September.”
PREVIOUS: So is Billy Crystal once again the answer to all of Oscar’s woes? His statement in answer to a fan’s query at an American Cinematheque screening of City Slickers on Friday night was that he might be open to hosting again “maybe one or two more times”. But that’s not even the first time he’s dropped the hint this year. In March, shortly after he made his appearance on the 83rd Oscar show to honor Bob Hope, he was hosting a charity event and told a reporter, “I think the show needs to change. There’s too many awards and it has to sort of freshen itself up, and if I can be a part of that, that would be great.” Between that and Friday’s encouraging words, what more do the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and newly minted producers Brett Ratner and Don Mischer need to hear?
OSCARS: Academy Announces Producers Of 84th Telecast — Brett Ratner And Don Mischer
Of all the entertainment people in the world that the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences could have picked to produce the 84th Academy Awards, without doubt the last name would have been Brett Ratner’s. Even he feels that way. “I had no idea. But Tom Sherak called me two weeks ago to come see him in his office. And I walk in and Tom is there with Dawn Hudson. And I thought I was being kicked out of Academy. I thought my maid had started bootlegging my Academy DVDs and I would be escorted out of the building and asked to relinquish my Academy cards.” That 1/2-hour meeting turned into a 3-hour schmoozefest, and at the end of it Ratner was asked to produce the Oscar telecast with returning Don Mischer. Maybe it was fate. After all, Brett does live in Hillhaven Manor, a house steeped in Hollywood history where Ingrid Bergman and Kim Novak lived as well as Allan Carr who produced the 61st Academy Awards in 1989 and gave the world one of its most infamous shows complete with Snow White and Rob Lowe. (As Deadline awards columnist Pete Hammond just emailed me, “Hopefully for Brett’s sake there isn’t a curse on the Oscars still lurking there.”)
This could turn out to be the worst idea or the best idea. I say give the guy a chance. Let’s face it: that interminable and horrible awards ceremony certainly couldn’t get any worse. A few car chases around the Kodak Theatre. Jackie Chan hanging from the ceiling chandelier. Gunfire and explosions in the aisles. Now that’s a show! (As one producer just telephoned me, “At least now we’ll get to see Chris Tucker again…”) On the other hand, besides the Rush Hour franchise, Ratner did make that fine documentary about legendary actor John Cazale of Godfather and Deer Hunter and Dog Day Afternoon fame. But Brett’s is not necessarily a body of work studied in film schools.
In an interview with me just now, Ratner says that he’d always bitched and moaned about the Oscars after every show. “I’d put it out there at every Oscar party. I’d be critical of it to everyone I’d see. ’Here’s what I would do…’ In this meeting Tom and Dawn were interested in hearing my ideas during an intense conversation. Get me talking and I can’t stop. And I kept going and going.”
Next, Sherak and Hudson set up a meeting between Ratner and Mischer. “I met him over nova and cream cheese at the Mulholland Deli on Beverly Glen. I kept thinking I’d run into Warren Beatty because he always goes there. Then Warren called while I was sitting with Don. But I couldn’t tell him. I couldn’t tell anyone. That was the problem: I couldn’t ask anybody what their opinion was about whether I should do it.”
Ratner was leaving that night for Europe and asked Sherak and Hudson, “Can I think about it?” To help him decided, he requested they gather up all of the Oscar telecast footage they had as far back as possible. “I looked through every single telecast. And I called up Tom and Dawn and said, ‘I can do this. I’m really excited.’”
Beverly Hills, CA — Brett Ratner and Don Mischer will produce the 84th Academy Awards telecast, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak announced today. This will be Ratner’s first involvement with the Oscar show; Mischer will for the second year in a row serve as a producer and as the telecast director.
“I was so impressed with Brett when I met with him to discuss the Oscar show,” said Sherak. “He has an incredible love of film and its history and is a true student of the business of movies. He’s unbelievably creative and knows how to take risks that are both interesting and inspiring. Together with Don Mischer – who, by the way, just earned an Emmy nomination for his work on the 83rd Academy Awards – I think these two will give us a fantastic Oscar show that you won’t want to miss.”
“I’m thrilled that Don will again bring his tremendous expertise to the Oscar telecast,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “And Brett has a really smart and fresh take for the show. They have great chemistry, and their vision meshed so well with ours.”
Hugh Jackman was the first to be offered the hosting job at the upcoming Oscarcast by producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer, an offer he turned down because he’s preparing to shoot Wolverine with Oscar-nominated Black Swan director Darren …
Beverly Hills, CA — Past winners and/or nominees Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Marisa Tomei and Oprah Winfrey will present on the 83rd Academy Awards, telecast producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer announced today. Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 will be presented on February 27.
Beverly Hills, CA — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that, following a two-month-long cordial exchange of correspondence with Academy president Tom Sherak, Jean-Luc Godard has regretfully notified Sherak that he will not be able to attend the November 13th Governors Awards and receive his