OSCARS: Academy Announces Producers Of 84th Telecast — Brett Ratner And Don Mischer
Of all the entertainment people in the world that the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences could have picked to produce the 84th Academy Awards, without doubt the last name would have been Brett Ratner’s. Even he feels that way. “I had no idea. But Tom Sherak called me two weeks ago to come see him in his office. And I walk in and Tom is there with Dawn Hudson. And I thought I was being kicked out of Academy. I thought my maid had started bootlegging my Academy DVDs and I would be escorted out of the building and asked to relinquish my Academy cards.” That 1/2-hour meeting turned into a 3-hour schmoozefest, and at the end of it Ratner was asked to produce the Oscar telecast with returning Don Mischer. Maybe it was fate. After all, Brett does live in Hillhaven Manor, a house steeped in Hollywood history where Ingrid Bergman and Kim Novak lived as well as Allan Carr who produced the 61st Academy Awards in 1989 and gave the world one of its most infamous shows complete with Snow White and Rob Lowe. (As Deadline awards columnist Pete Hammond just emailed me, “Hopefully for Brett’s sake there isn’t a curse on the Oscars still lurking there.”)
This could turn out to be the worst idea or the best idea. I say give the guy a chance. Let’s face it: that interminable and horrible awards ceremony certainly couldn’t get any worse. A few car chases around the Kodak Theatre. Jackie Chan hanging from the ceiling chandelier. Gunfire and explosions in the aisles. Now that’s a show! (As one producer just telephoned me, “At least now we’ll get to see Chris Tucker again…”) On the other hand, besides the Rush Hour franchise, Ratner did make that fine documentary about legendary actor John Cazale of Godfather and Deer Hunter and Dog Day Afternoon fame. But Brett’s is not necessarily a body of work studied in film schools.
In an interview with me just now, Ratner says that he’d always bitched and moaned about the Oscars after every show. “I’d put it out there at every Oscar party. I’d be critical of it to everyone I’d see. ‘Here’s what I would do…’ In this meeting Tom and Dawn were interested in hearing my ideas during an intense conversation. Get me talking and I can’t stop. And I kept going and going.”
Next, Sherak and Hudson set up a meeting between Ratner and Mischer. “I met him over nova and cream cheese at the Mulholland Deli on Beverly Glen. I kept thinking I’d run into Warren Beatty because he always goes there. Then Warren called while I was sitting with Don. But I couldn’t tell him. I couldn’t tell anyone. That was the problem: I couldn’t ask anybody what their opinion was about whether I should do it.”
Ratner was leaving that night for Europe and asked Sherak and Hudson, “Can I think about it?” To help him decided, he requested they gather up all of the Oscar telecast footage they had as far back as possible. “I looked through every single telecast. And I called up Tom and Dawn and said, ‘I can do this. I’m really excited.'” (more…)