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Exactly 10 years after receiving the best picture trophy for “Driving Miss Daisy,” producers Richard and Lili Fini Zanuck this spring will return to the Oscar limelight.

This time, though, they’ll be producing the telecast.

It’s the duo’s first crack at producing the show, and the first time in Oscar’s 72-year history that a woman will do so.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced Tuesday that the Zanucks will step in for Gil Cates, who produced the past three shows (and, altogether, nine in the past 15 years). Cates had earlier made it clear that he was not going to return for the 2000 Oscar telecast (Daily Variety, Aug. 26).

New perspective

Acad prexy Robert Rehme saluted Cates’ “yeoman work.” But he added, “With this new producing team in place, I look forward to a whole new perspective.”

In a joint statement, the Zanucks said, “We feel there is no event more exciting than the Oscar telecast, and to be its producers is a challenge we enthusiastically accept.”

No host has yet been announced for the 72nd Academy Awards. The ceremony is set for March 26 at the Shrine Auditorium.

Oscar history

An Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award winner, Zanuck was a producer of such films as “Jaws,” “The Verdict” and “Cocoon.” His first producing credit was on “Compulsion” in 1959.

Lili Fini Zanuck joined her husband as a producer on “Cocoon,” “Mulholland Falls” and “True Crime.” She’s also directed one feature, “Rush,” and one segment of HBO’s “From the Earth to the Moon.”