The fact that producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are returning to produce the Oscars for the third time running is no surprise. I took it for granted that they would come back for another round. Their last two shows –with hosts Seth MacFarlane and Ellen DeGeneres, respectively–played well enough both inside and outside Hollywood that the Academy and ABC were likely to want them back. “This year’s show reached viewers of all ages and set social media records,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, “proving that Craig and Neil are masters at tapping into the zeitgeist and capturing the hearts of movie fans around the world.”
The 87th Oscars will air live on the ABC Television Network on Oscar® Sunday, February 22, 2015.
Part of Zadan and Meron’s skill is knowing how to mount an awards show with strong musical numbers–they are adept musical producers in theater, film and television, whose productions have earned six Oscars (“Chicago”), 11 Emmys (“Annie”), two Tonys (“Promises, Promises” and “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying”), a Grammy, five Golden Globes, two Peabodys, five GGLAAD awards and two NAACP awards. In other words, they’ve put in their 10,000 hours. Next question: will they bring back Ellen? Producers repeat–the late Gil Cates did the show many times over the decades. But recent hosts, even repeaters like Billy Crystal, rarely do the show back to back, when the stress memory is fresh.
The 86th Oscars on March 2 with DeGeneres included not only musical performances by nominees Pharrell Williams, Idina Menzel and U2, but a tribute to “The Wizard of Oz” by Pink and that notorious selfie:
The show drew an average audience of 45.4 million total viewers, delivering a 13.7 rating among adults 18–49 (Live+7), and reached 74.6 million viewers watching 6+ minutes, the best since 2004. The Oscars were TV’s most-watched entertainment telecast in 10 years and attracted the biggest viewership in 14 years. The show helped drive increases for the second consecutive year, marking a seven-year high for adults 18–34 (+3%); a nine-year high for teens 12–17 (+13%); and an eight-year high for kids 2–11 (+13%). Social media activity was particularly robust with more than one billion impressions generated on Twitter and 25 million interactions happening on Facebook on Oscar® Sunday. Additionally, DeGeneres’s selfie became the most retweeted photo of all time with 32.8 million views.
Zadan and Meron executive produced last year’s “The Sound of Music Live!” which drew a record 21.3 million viewers as well as last year’s miniseries “Bonnie and Clyde,” the TV series “Smash” and “Drop Dead Diva.”
Up next: executive producing the television musical “Peter Pan Live!” and this summer’s MTV comedy series, “Happyland.” There’s also“Pippin” for the Weinstein Company plus a musical based on the extensive Beach Boys song catalog for Fox 2000 Pictures, and “Monster High” based on the Mattel franchise for Universal Pictures.