Who should produce the next Academy Award ceremony?

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If the rumors are to be believed, not only will the Oscars have a new host next year, but apparently also new producers as well. Yes, yesterday there was some buzz that Neil Meron and Craig Zadan would not be returning to produce the next Academy Award telecast. That comes on the heels of Neil Patrick Harris more or less affirming that he won’t host the show again, so now is really a nice opportunity to tweet the ceremony in a few ways. The question is…who should do it? Well, I have a suggestion that I think would really work, so let’s dive in and look at who I’ve tapped.

Quickly though, I do want to say that I’m on board with keeping two specific things from the Meron and Zadan years. Their Team Oscar idea is cute and harmless, so I’m cool with that remaining, but last year’s decision to televise every category’s nominations was a real winner to me. I’d want to expand on that (as you’ll see below), but I hope whomever is chosen by the Academy at least keeps the new status quo in that regard. I know I appreciated it, along with many Oscar pundits. Meron and Zadan didn’t make a ton of great decisions, but that was certainly one of them.

On that front, the one change I would make (no, not going back to five nominees for Best Picture, though I’m going to address that later on this week) besides my producer pick is to make the nominations a bigger deal. If, instead of announcing during the morning shows, they made it a prime time event, you could really get folks excited. Give us 90 minutes to announce all the categories, spreading out the Best Picture nominees so that each time one is announced, you’d get more clips and perhaps a bit of talking head discussion. You could do that for the Acting categories too, really hammering home the greatness of the year. It would massage the appetite for a wider viewing audience while also getting a double dip opportunity with advertisers. It seems like a no brainer to me, quite frankly.

So, who would I choose to produce the show? Judd Apatow, actually. Apatow is already an accomplished producer, in addition to being a top tier writer and director. He’s got stand up comedy roots, has worked with many of the funniest people in the industry, and would represent a less cynical grab at a diverse audience. In fact, he really seems like the obvious choice, not just my shot in the dark pick. I’ve got three specific reasons why I think Apatow is the right person for the job, as you can see below. Honestly, I think he’d really get the show moving in the right direction.

Here are three reasons why I’d tap Apatow…

1. He’d bring the comedy back to the show with a strong host selection – With his comedy roots, he would likely look to either a comedian or a late night host for the MC gig, which is probably the right move. He could also try to tap someone like Jon Stewart, though perhaps a veteran of his films could step up instead? I’d be intrigued with someone like Seth Rogen hosting, unlikely as that might be. Regardless of the host, I think the writing for the show would get a facelift, and that’s just as important.

2. He’s a filmmaker, so he’ll celebrate the year in film – We got too much on classic cinema of late, which isn’t a bad thing on its own, but it’s come at the expense of celebrating the movies of the actual year, which is presumably what the Academy Awards are about. I’m sure Apatow would reference the classics in some way, but he’d be more likely to keep the focus on what’s up for awards, something I believe is the right approach to go with.

3. He wouldn’t try to make it into the Grammys – This goes a bit with the last point, but the Oscars should be their own beast. Too many musical numbers have made for an odd mix with the biggest night in Hollywood. I don’t mind when they make the Best Original Song numbers a big production, but random tributes? Yeah, we can do without that. Apatow would try to make the best film centric awards show possible, not the best variety show possible.

I’m hardly saying that Apatow is the likely selection by the Academy for the job, but I certainly think that he’d be a tremendous choice. It’ll probably be a number of months before we know who’s producing the Oscars, but with Meron and Zadan seeming to be out the door, the speculation can begin. Consider Apatow my For Your Consideration pick….

Stay tuned to see who winds up producing the Oscars!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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