Academy shakes up Oscars show team for 96th edition in March

FILE - An Oscar statue appears outside the Dolby Theatre for the 87th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 21, 2015. The 96th Oscars will be held on March 10, 2024. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File) (Matt Sayles)

The Oscars are enlisting a group of live television veterans to oversee its 96th show in March.

Raj Kapoor will serve as executive producer and showrunner, Katy Mullan will executive produce and Hamish Hamilton will return to direct for the first time in nearly a decade, the film academy said Tuesday.

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Kapoor, who has worked on the Oscars for the past seven years, also has credits on the Grammys, the Emmys and “Adele: One Night Only,” while Mullan produced “Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration" and the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics. Hamilton, meanwhile, has three Academy Award telecasts on his resume already, including the 82nd Oscars hosted by Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin and the 86th Oscars hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, in addition to 14 Super Bowl halftime shows and the London Olympics opening.

“Their deep love of cinema, fresh vision, and tremendous live television expertise is perfect for our reinvigorated show,” Academy CEO Bill Kramer and Academy President Janet Yang said in a joint statement.

No host has been announced yet.

The Hollywood actors strike has disrupted much of the traditional leadup to awards season, with actors unable to promote projects. But the Oscars, which celebrate all aspects of filmmaking, are forging ahead with plans. The 96th Oscars are scheduled for Sunday, March 10, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

“Having worked with Raj, Katy and Hamish on many special and memorable projects over the years, we have full confidence in their vision for the 96th Oscars,” Walt Disney Television executive Rob Mills said.

“Their creativity, infectious energy and sincere love for the movies will be the ticket to making this year’s ceremony a night to remember,” Mills added.

Lisa Love and Raúl Àvila will also return to design the “red carpet aesthetic,” which last year included scuttling a red carpet altogether. There was instead a champagne-colored walkway to the theater.

Like many awards shows, the Oscars have suffered decreased ratings in recent years, and not just because of the pandemic editions.

But they’ve also had a modest rebound with the past two shows. This year’s ceremony, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, drew 18.7 million viewers in March. Though much improved from the 10.4 million who tuned into the Union Station Oscars in 2021, and the 16.6 million who witnessed Will Smith slap Chris Rock in 2022, it was also the third lowest rated show. Prior to 2018, viewership had never been lower than 32 million.

Conventional wisdom suggests that viewership is directly related to the popularity of the movies nominated for the top awards. This year might have the answer yet; but that's a lot of pressure to put on “ Barbenheimer.”

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