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Oscar Watch: Academy Hires Producers, NYT Recasts Carpetbagger

Oscar Watch: Academy Hires Producers, NYT Recasts Carpetbagger

Now that the Academy has announced a team of Oscarcast producers, director Adam Shankman and ex-Fox studio chief-turned-producer Bill Mechanic, the business of choosing a host can begin.

We can safely assume that it’s Hugh Jackman, not because he won our TOH poll, hands down, but because Shankman is a veteran song-and-dance man (Hairspray, So You Think You Can Dance) who complements Mechanic’s arsenal of skills, including being able to pick up the phone to land presenters such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Drew Barrymore and Brendan Fraser. (Shankman can deliver Zac Efron.) Mechanic is also new AMPAS president Tom Sherak’s old boss. They share one of the most important things in the world: a comfort zone.

Academy executive director Bruce Davis made it very clear that the Academy liked the direction Laurence Mark and Bill Condon took with the Oscar show last year and would have brought them back if they could. So I agree with Pete Hammond’s assessment that this year’s show will be an extension of that direction. So expect the announcement of the host fairly soon.

I knew that NYT media columnist David Carr wasn’t planning on coming back to do a fifth season as the indefatigable red carpet Oscar hound The Carpetbagger. He had exhausted the third person “bagger” outsider riff, and he knew it. The question was whether the NYT brass–who are extremely invested in selling Oscar ads at a premium as of December 1–would allow Carr to opt out. He’s a damned gifted blogger, for one thing, unlike most newspaper folks who tend to be flat-footed about the whole blog thing (sorry, but that’s you, Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes). With Carr, the story was already written before he finished the interview, it seemed.

That’s what blogging takes. Anyway, this is preamble to news that the NYT has put one of their own (very few outside hires there, as they’re buying out or laying off 100 people this month) on the Bagger beat. Here’s the release announcing general assignment culture reporter Melena Ryzik, veteran of the Urban Eye video series:

Annual Blog on the Hollywood Awards Season to Relaunch December 1
NEW YORK, Oct. 20, 2009 – NYTimes.com announced today that culture reporter Melena Ryzik will be the new lead writer of the Carpetbagger blog beginning Dec. 1, when it is relaunched for the Hollywood awards season. In addition to being a general assignment culture reporter, Ms. Ryzik chronicles cultural life in New York for the UrbanEye video series, and writes the UrbanEye e-mail, a daily guide to events around town. As the Carpetbagger, she succeeds media columnist David Carr, who originated the blog but is retiring his tuxedo from the red carpet beat after four seasons. He will continue as a media columnist and a general assignment reporter.
The Carpetbagger blog is devoted to the ups and downs of Hollywood’s award season, taking its audience behind the scenes of major industry events including the Sundance Film Festival, the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. Ms. Ryzik will also continue the Carpetbagger video series, which Mr. Carr launched on NYTimes.com, to cover the film world and give viewers a peek into how celebrity news is made, on and off the red carpet. Additional reporting to the blog will come from several other Times journalists, including the Los Angeles-based reporters Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes.

The Carpetbagger blog also hosts many additional features to engage readers, from calendars to track the nominations to an Oscar-race scorecard. The blog was launched in fall of 2005 and has appeared every year since, earning a devoted audience of readers and viewers. Ms. Ryzik joined The Times in 2001 writing for metro and investigative news. She was a contributing writer for The Times’s former celebrity column Boldface Names. The UrbanEye video series will go on hiatus during Carpetbagger season; the UrbanEye e-mails will continue.

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