Most people probably couldn't pick producer Brian Grazer out of a lineup, but there's a good chance they recognize the films he's made. "Liar Liar," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "Cowboys & Aliens," "Inside Man," "The Nutty Professor," "The Da Vinci Code," "8 Mile," "American Gangster," "A Beautiful Mind": All were produced by Grazer, one-half of the long-running Imagine Entertainment that also includes director Ron Howard. Grazer has been one of the most consistently commercially successful producers of the last couple decades, and he has four Oscar nominations to boot, including wining the Best Picture prize (with Howard) for "A Beautiful Mind." It's hard to think of many industry folks who better represent The Hollywood Establishment, which is why it makes so much sense that in the wake of the Brett Ratner debacle, the Academy has turned to him to produce the 2012 Oscars.
The Academy's announcement has just been released:
Academy President Tom Sherak announced today that Academy Award-winner Brian Grazer will join Don Mischer as a producer of the 84th Academy Awards. This will be the first time Grazer has produced the Oscar telecast.
"Brian Grazer is a renowned filmmaker who over the past 25 years has produced a diverse and extraordinary body of work," said Sherak. "He will certainly bring his tremendous talent, creativity and relationships to the Oscars."
"I am thrilled to welcome Brian Grazer as my partner and that we will be collaborating to produce an outstanding show," echoed Mischer.
"It's very gratifying to be part of a show that honors excellence in the medium to which I have devoted so much of my career," said Grazer. "Don is a legend, and I am excited to work with him."
By going with Grazer, the Academy is clearly wanting a seasoned, grownup pro behind the wheel, which is the opposite of the bad-boy persona Ratner liked to flaunt. But it is worth pointing out that, as far as we can tell, Grazer has never produced a live television broadcast. And this isn't just any live broadcast. For as much as people want to talk about the fading relevance of the Academy Awards, they remain a major annual TV event and one that everyone in Hollywood takes ridiculously seriously. But that may not be a huge problem: Grazer's co-producer, Don Mischer, is a wily veteran of live television.
The immediate question in reaction to this news would be whether Grazer would try to corral Eddie Murphy back into hosting after he dropped out this morning. After all, they've made six movies together, including the recent "Tower Heist." But according to Deadline, that isn't happening. ("We are not going back to him," their source said. "No way.")
Of course, for approximately 98 percent of the Oscar-viewing audience, the fact that Grazer is taking over will mean absolutely nothing. And why should it: Most people judge an Academy Awards show on the host and the host alone. But for those inside Hollywood, the hiring of Grazer symbolizes an "OK, the adults are back in charge" reassuring tone to those who want the Oscars to present the film industry in the best light possible. So now Grazer and Mischer have to find a host, which will be the biggest decision they'll make in the next three months.
What a crazy week. Monday, the world finds out about Ratner's homophobic comment. Tuesday, he drops out of the Oscars. Today, Murphy jumps ship, and Grazer comes on board. We're not sure if we're excited or terrified for what might happen tomorrow.