Oscars move on as Craig Zadan and Neil Meron insist departure was their decision

Posted by · 2:01 pm · March 26th, 2015

As many expected, the big news out of last night's Academy Board of Governors meeting wasn't that the Best Picture nomination process would be changing, but that telecast producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan were out.

The news broke in an “exclusive” spin session, er, interview with Deadline's Pete Hammond and the longtime producing partners insist the choice was theirs to make. In fact, the duo insist they had been thinking long and hard about coming back and that “if we were ever asked, whether we wanted to do it again.”  

Of course, they could have announced their “decision” before last month's Academy Award telecast or even in the weeks following. Instead, they tweeted cryptic comments and waited for their bosses to decide. Now that the Academy has decided to move on?  Well, let the spinning begin!

“What people don”t know is that we signed a three-year deal with the Academy, and it was never announced, and it was never revealed to anybody, and they had asked us when we came on would we sign for three years. They said this idea came about because of having people come on for a year, they learned how to do the show, and then they”re gone. So there”s no continuity, and the ability to work with people for several years in a row seems like a really better way to go. So it was at that point we committed to three years,” Zadan waxed to Deadline.

Of course, we're 99% sure the Academy could have ended the contract earlier if they weren't happy with the results, but after Ellen DeGeneres hosted the highest rated show since 2000 last year why wouldn't they bring them back? We'll give Ellen credit for the greatest selfie of all-time, but all three Zadan/Meron productions suffered from too many musical numbers, not enough laughs and some incredibly dumb creative decisions including two screwy In Memoriam segments. They were also three of the worst reviewed telecasts of the AcademyAwards this century (although the Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted telecast is clearly in a class all by itself).

Now, the producing partners can go worry about their next live NBC musical and their new three-year deal to develop Broadway shows for the Shubert Organization. It also means Oscar fans can begin to hope for something better in 2016.

Who should produce the telecast is now very a big question mark.  We'd warn the Academy on selecting TV veterans with no connection to the industry after the disastrous run by Emmy-winner Don Mischer (he was actually worse than Zadan and Meron). Many will dream of Lorne Michaels taking the reigns, but it's almost impossible to imagine that plan getting the green light from his defacto NBC bosses.  That being said, someone with a comedy background such as Judd Apatow, Ben Stiller or Paul Feig would be most welcome.  

And, of course, new producers mean the dream of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler reuniting to host next year as they no longer are bound to the Globes can live for another day. (Nope, we refused to let this dream die.)

Are you glad to see Zadan and Meron go?  Who do you think should produce the next Oscars telecast? Share your thoughts below.

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