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With Cohen and Mischer, a new kind of Oscars producing team -- Updated

June 22, 2010 |  7:10 pm

Osca

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences is marrying two distinct strands of producer for this year's Oscar telecast: veteran film producer Bruce Cohen and live-event television guru Don Mischer.

The academy said today that the pair has been hired to produce the 83rd Oscars, which ABC will air on Feb. 27. The hiring marks the first time in recent memory that a TV producer will shape one of the country’s most-watched telecasts.

Mischer has produced numerous half-time events as well as a broadcast of the Barack Obama inauguration, and is regarded as one of the preeminent producers of live-event television.

In bringing on Cohen, meanwhile, the Academy continues its tradition of retaining a savvy veteran of both the film world and the Oscars – a move regarded as essential in placating the powerful and at times demanding constituencies that attend the awards show.

Cohen himself has also stood on the Oscar podium as a best picture winner (for “American Beauty,” in 2000), an experience he says he hopes to draw from as a producer. "The electricity that courses through your body when you sit in the room as a nominee, not to mention when you win, is one of the key things we want to convey to the audience at home," Cohen said in an interview.

In making the choice, the academy continues a relationship it had been developing with the pair, which it hired last year to produce the (far lower-profile) Governor Awards, which are held in November.

Producers for the Oscar generally dictate the tone of the telecast, although the pressure has been lifted somewhat since ratings bounced back at the 2009 show under producers Bill Condon and Laurence Mark.

[UPDATED -- 7:32 PM Still, many will look to Cohen and Mischer for clues as to how this year’s telecast will unfold. On Tuesday, Cohen said he expects to continue some of the recent traditions – such as using previous acting winners to present the new winners – and also doesn’t want to shy away from 82 years of Oscar history. “We want to work with that mythology and the treasure trove of the show,” he said.

But he also added that he and Mischer -- the latter of whom will also direct the telecast -- will  strive to satisfy many different types of film fans, which has been something of a battle cry among more populist critics of the Oscars. “The idea is to create a show that will appeal to movie lovers of all kinds – something for the drama people, something for the musical people, something for the tentpole people,” he said.

Fueled by the presence of hit movies like “Avatar” and “The Blind Side,” last year’s Oscars telecast was seen by an estimated 41.3 million people, the highest number in five years. Cohen said that he expects there to again be 10 best picture nominees this year, which he said will help notch high ratings. ““The more there is to celebrate, the more you can broaden the audience.”]

--Steven Zeitchik

http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Steve Martin, Kathryn Bigelow and Alec Baldwin at the 2009 Oscars. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

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