Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have harbored the fantasy of producing the Oscars for a decade. “We’ve been saying ‘one day, please God, let this happen,'” says Meron. “It’s a once in a lifetime thing.”
Finally two days ago new Academy president Hawk Koch, who they got to know at the Producers Guild, called them up and gave them the job.
Now the duo will try to put on the best Oscar show they can, they say, and picking the right host will be part of that. With the job announced, they can start making phone calls. They’re throwing around many possible scenarios; they confirm that “Les Miserables” star Hugh Jackman, who is a friend, is on long their long wish list. “He’s perfect for anything,” says Zadan. “I would hire Hugh Jackman to come to my house and have dinner. We admire him, he’s a lovely and talented human being.”
What about reteaming Jackman and Anne Hathaway? “Right now everything is a possibility,” says Meron. “Everything is up in the air.”
So will these musical producers mount a musical show? “It’s something we love to do,” says Meron. “It’s part of our professional DNA. We’ll do something along those lines but it’s premature to call it a musical show. We’re batting aorund a lot of ideas and don’t want to exclude anything.”
While the duo both admire Laurence Mark and their “Chicago” director Bill Condon’s 2009 Oscars, the Academy will supply them with every show that’s ever been done. “We’ll cull through that and see the ones we loved,” says Meron.
“There were great pieces and moments in all the shows,” adds Zadan. “But we hope to do unique and special things this year. So that next year’s producers will say, ‘let’s keep that.'”
Coming up for the producers on October 7 is Lifetime’s “Steel Magnolias” with an all African-American cast led by Queen Latifah, as well as Season Two of “Smash,” which debuts on September 11 on NBC, with new stars Jennifer Hudson, Sean Hayes, Jerry Jordan (“Newsies”), Kira Rodriguez (“Spring Awakenings”) and more Broadway stars. “Going into Season One we wanted to broaden the scope so that it was not so much about process,” says Meron. “In the end what people responded to is process.”
Concludes Zadan: “We all feel that on Season Two we corrected all the things we wanted to correct from Season One.”