“Hoping that whoever produces the Oscars next year will retain our innovations: TeamOscar program & reading all 24 nom on Oscar nom morning.”
This was the cryptic tweet by Craig Zadan after this year’s show, hinting that it was almost the end of their time producing the Oscars, but the producers and the Academy claimed that nothing had yet been decided. Now, though, it has been confirmed through their representatives that Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who have produced the Oscars for the past three years, will not continue for a fourth year. It’s time for the Academy to start searching for a new producer. The Academy’s Board of Governors met on Tuesday night to discuss the future of the Oscars, and whether the producers will be retained was one of the issue discussed. Although nothing was decided about anything, they will be assessing every aspect of the show.
Zadan and Meron have produced the Academy Awards for the last three years, which is the longest consecutive run since Gil Cates 16 years prior. They spoke with Deadline’s producing team over the phone and stated that not returning for the fourth year was their decision: “Frankly before the Oscars this year were even broadcast, we were questioning whether or not, if we were ever asked, whether we wanted to do it again, and we had long talked about it, and also had casual discussions with [President] Cheryl [Boone Isaacs] and [CEO] Dawn [Hudson] about it way back when, and the past couple of years have been incredible, but at the same time, we’ve also put a lot of projects on hold, and they haven’t been getting our full attention.”
Zadan revealed that he and Meron were nearing the end of their agreement with the Academy. He revealed that what wasn’t publicly known, was that they entered a three year agreement with the Academy, an idea which came about for continuity reasons, “…having people come on for a year, they learned how to do the show, and then they were gone… So it was at that point we committed to three years,” Zadan stated. They have signed a new agreement which ties them for the next three to develop Broadway shows with the Shubert Organization, as well as another three-year deal to do a series and continue with their live musical events with NBCUniversal. The pair will now be free to revisit their past loves in performance. For the past two holiday seasons they participated in musicals The Sound of Music and Peter Pan, now a third live musical has been announced for the holiday season of this year, the title of which has not yet been revealed. They also closed a deal with Sony to work on TV movies and miniseries, and are even developing feature films, one of which is currently in the script-writing stages – a musical version of Pippin.
Meron tweeted about their departure from the Academy Awards stating that he’d like to “…thank the Academy.” Zadan published a similar tweet remarking: “Honoured we had 3 yr prod deal. 3 yrs stress & fun. Thrilled we were asked, happy to be moving on w/ lots of great friends. Thank you Acad.” Zadan and Meron have been excited about getting back into their comfort zones, and feel as if they have accomplished a lot in their time working with the Academy Awards. The ratings for the first two shows (hosted by Seth McFarlane and Ellen DeGeneres respectively) produced by the twosome showed the best numbers since 2004, which itself is a huge accomplishment. The third and final year of their producing hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, ratings dropped 16% and the show was heavily criticized, however the drop was expected from the Board of Governors and remains the highest-rated annual event on TV other than the Super Bowl.
Zadan and Meron will be leaving the Oscars proudly and have brought many things to the Academy, like the idea to have all 24 categories announced live on nomination morning, putting the nominees of the categories together in boxes to rule out those long walks to the stage, and Team Oscar, where college students are statuette presenters and various others. They mention that among their highlights of working on the Oscars were the appearances of Barbra Streisand and Pink singing Over the Rainbow for The Wizard of Oz’s 75th anniversary, and the famous Oscar selfie by Ellen DeGeneres. They have undoubtedly had an amazing stint at the Academy, and will continue to work hard on their future projects and agreements.