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Marc Shaiman talks about returning as music director of the Oscars ceremony

November 23, 2009 |  1:03 pm

Shaiman Tony winner Marc Shaiman is headed down Oscar's red carpet once again. The stage and film composer is returning as music director of the 82nd annual Academy Awards ceremony, which will be held March 7 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Shaiman, who won a Tony for his work on Broadway's "Hairspray" and has received five Oscar nominations, is a veteran of the Academy Awards ceremony, having written comic medleys for shows in years past. He also served as musical director for the 2004 ceremony.

Speaking from New York, Shaiman said he's already started working on potential musical numbers for the show. "We've had just a few meetings, and some ideas have started to be put into place," he said.

"The show is a huge ship that takes off every year. It's never too early to start work, but it's not until the nominations are announced that we can really begin."

The Oscar nominations are set to be announced Feb. 2.

Shaiman said he was happy to be re-teaming with his "Hairspray" collaborator Adam Shankman, who is producing the telecast along with Bill Mechanic. Shaiman added that his job entails all aspects of music during the show, except for conducting the live orchestra.

The composer revealed some tidbits about his current and upcoming stage and screen projects. His musical adaptation of the film "Catch Me if You Can" is currently looking for a home on Broadway, after out-of-town tryouts in Seattle earlier this year.

"We're circling theaters like Broadway vultures," he said. "You have to actively hope for a show to fail. It's a terrible thing to think."

He also discussed his in-the-works Showtime project with director Steven Spielberg -- a scripted series about the world of Broadway musicals: "We've just begun, but the ideas are flowing. And it seems to be on the fast track."

In addition, Shaiman is working on a new musical version of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," for which he is writing the score along with Scott Wittman.

As for the Oscars, Shaiman refused to say whether hosts Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin would be performing a musical number together.

"Who knows?" he said. "I can tell you there will be surprises, but of course I can't tell you what they will be."

-- David Ng

Photo: Composer Marc Shaiman, at right in the blue pimp outfit, at the 2000 Academy Awards ceremony, with "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. (They worked together for the film "South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut.") Credit: Los Angeles Times