That ticking sound you hear is the Oscar clock, as it counts minutes to the overdue announcement of a producer or producers for next year’s Academy Awards show, set for broadcast by ABC on February 26. Any attempt to handicap names is beyond this reporter: The broadcast would seem especially challenging, given a need to push beyond the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that helped drive a 7.6% decline in viewers this year to just 34.4 million, the fewest since 2008.
But the time crunch speaks for itself. Only once in the last 10 years has the producer announcement come this late. That would be in 2009, when reports that Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman would produce the next year’s show surfaced on October 20. In 2011, of course, Brian Grazer surfaced even later, on November 9. But he was replacing Brett Ratner, who had been squeezed out in a controversy over some anti-gay language, after having originally taken the job in early August.
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron were announced the first time at the very beginning of October, in 2012. They kept the job for two more years, with announcements in April of 2013 and 2014. At the time, Film Academy officials said their ability to lock the producing team early was crucial to the smooth assembly of the show.
Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer were a similarly early announcement, in June 2010. Reginald Hudlin and David Hill, Larry Mark and Bill Condon, and the veteran producer Gil Cates all had September announcements, in 2015, 2008, and 2007, respectively.
That makes 2016 an outlier, as Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs and CEO Dawn Hudson continue, in mid-October, to hold their cards close. Queries to the Academy on Wednesday drew no response. So that clock is still ticking.