August 5, 2011
Babes in Oscarland? Brett Ratner to produce 84th Academy Awards
It was announced yesterday that sybaritic director Brett Ratner will produce the next Oscar telecast alongside veteran TV producer Don Mischer.
It is a deliberately diverse duo: Ratner is the forty-something director of action fare like “Rush Hour” and “X-Men: The Last Stand” while Mischer is a seasoned producer of high profile television whose credits include The Obama Inaugural celebration, The Kennedy Center Honors, myriad Super Bowl Halftime Shows and the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games.
For years now, in an attempt to attract a younger audience, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been trying to give the annual telecast a makeover.
The past decade has seen a revolving door of hosts including Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg and Ellen DeGeneres and experimented with different comedic pairs, such as aging lions Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin (who were funny) as well as last year’s hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway (young, beautiful, but not so funny).
In 2008, producers Bill Condon (director, “Dreamgirls”) and Laurence Mark (producer, “As Good As It Gets”) hired showman Hugh Jackman (“X-Men’s” Wolverine) to romp his way around the proscenium in a program styled after Broadway. Jackman’s musical numbers beat out Jon Stewart’s previous year one-liners and increased ratings from 32 million U.S. viewers to 36.3 million, according to E! online. Baldwin and Martin’s 2010 telecast brought in the highest ratings in recent history with 41.7 million viewers but they dropped again with Hathaway and Franco to 37.6 million in 2011.
As producer, Ratner’s prescription for the troubled telecast is comedy. “Comedy is the key,” Ratner said, according to TheWrap.com. “That’s the most important thing I can accomplish. If people can sit in that theater and laugh, and people can watch at home around the world and laugh, then I’ve accomplished what I want to do. The numbers [ratings] will be what they are.”
Ratner, who is equally as well known for his extracurricular antics as his filmography, brings a distinct popcorn-entertainment sensibility to everything he does, whether it’s throwing a party at his Hillhaven Lodge or directing a Madonna music video. Mischer, who has co-produced the Oscars before, is meant to temper Ratner’s wild side. But frankly, the Oscars could use a little barbarous, untamed fun especially if the awards themselves are a forgone conclusion as they were last year (Was there any doubt “The King’s Speech,” Aaron Sorkin and Natalie Portman would all take home the 8-and-a-half pound golden guy?).
With all eyes on Ratner, we can only wonder one thing: Who will rummage through his designer-filled “ex-girlfriend closet” and escort him down the red carpet?
My guess? His mother.
From my 2008 Jewish Journal profile of Ratner: