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Cates to produce Oscars

With 9 b'casts, producer sets record for consecutive stints

The upcoming Oscar show will have a familiar figure in the driver’s seat, with Gil Cates returning for a record ninth assignment as producer.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president Robert Rehme announced Monday that Cates has agreed to put together the ABC telecast of the 71st annual Academy Awards presentation on March 21.

Cates stands to beat the record of Howard W. Koch, who produced eight shows over a 12-year period. He already holds the record for most consecutive stints as producer of the telecast.

“Gil’s Oscar telecasts have become marvels of the art of pulling together a live television spectacular,” Rehme said. “And the television audience regularly rewards that artistry with the best nonsports ratings of the year. … That enthusiasm for this show is in no small measure due to Gil’s skill as the man in charge.”

Cates’ eight previous Oscar outings have garnered 61 Emmy nominations and 15 Emmys for the show. Cates won the Emmy himself in 1991 for producing the Academy Awards telecast.

“I’m hooked on this show,” Cates said. “There’s no other like it in the world — it is an amazing experience. I’m thrilled to be back and delighted that Bob has asked me once more.”

Cates will also serve as exec producer of a new half-hour “pre-show,” at 5 p.m., before the Oscar show itself.

Formerly a member of the Academy’s board of governors, representing the directors’ branch, Cates served as dean of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & Television from 1990-97 and was president of the Directors Guild of America for two terms.

For the past four years, Cates has served as the Geffen Playhouse’s artistic director; he recently received the Jimmy Doolittle award for outstanding contribution to L.A. theater.