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Oscars: David Hill and Reginald Hudlin to Produce Telecast

David Hill and Reginald Hudlin will produce the 88th Academy Awards, to be held Feb. 28, 2016.

It’s an interesting combination of veterans who represent, respectively, the worlds of live television and the film world.

Hill was a longtime 21st Century Fox/News Corp. executive who stepped down in June to launch a production banner that focused on live TV events. Hill is known for his skill at overseeing live sports production, and was key in building Fox Sports; in recent years he’s overseen “American Idol” for the Fox network.

Hudlin is an Oscar-nominated producer for “Django Unchained,” and last year produced the Governors Awards. He has been the executive producer of the NAACP Image Awards since 2012. Hudlin was the first president of entertainment for BET Networks from 2005-09.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences announced the moves Tuesday, but did not indicate if this is a three-year pact. When the most recent producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, stepped down earlier this year, they said there had been a three-year deal with the Academy, which is looking for continuity rather than finding a new producer or producing team every year.

“We’re delighted to have this talented team on board,” said AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “David is a true innovator with a dynamic personality.  His vast experience as a live events producer, coupled with Reggie’s energy, creativity and talent as a filmmaker, is sure to make this year’s Oscar telecast a memorable one.”

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“What a great and exciting honor! The quest is to honor the year in film, honor the art, and above all, make it fun,” said Hill.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Academy again,” said Hudlin. “I love every kind of film, and this year’s awards will be a celebration of the total range of cinema.”

“We’re excited to work with David and Reggie,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “With their enthusiasm and breadth of experience, they will bring a fresh perspective to the Oscar show.”

An executive with the Fox group of companies for more than 25 years, Hill most recently served as senior executive vice president of 21st Century Fox, overseeing programming, digital initiatives and other opportunities on five continents. He was previously chairman-CEO of Fox Sports Media Group. Hudlin’s film credits include “Boomerang,” “The Great White Hype” and “House Party,” which he also wrote.

New producers always come in with ambitious ideas but have to contend with demands from both AMPAS and ABC. Those include the constraints of how to add innovative elements while keeping the running time manageable. And there are many elements that have to be included, such as 24 awards, recaps of the Sci-Tech honors and the Governors Awards and the In Memoriam segment. In all, that means a producer has less than 45 minutes to include such options as an opening monologue, performance of nominated songs, etc.

Holding the record for the longest ceremony: the 74th Academy Awards, on March 2, 2002, which ran 4 hours and 23 minutes. In recent history, the shortest ceremonies were in 2005 and 2012, each at 3 hours, 14 minutes. The last time the show clocked in at less than three hours was 1973.

Gil Cates was the Academy’s go-to guy for many years, producing the show a record 14 times, the final time in 2008.

For the record, here are the producers of the past decade: the 2006 ceremony, Gil Cates (hosted by Jon Stewart); 2007, Laura Ziskin (hosted by Ellen DeGeneres); 2008 Cates (Jon Stewart again); 2009 Laurence Mark & Bill Condon (Hugh Jackman); 2010 Bill Mechanic, Adam Shankman (Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin); 2011 Bruce Cohen, Don Mischer (James Franco, Anne Hathaway); 2012 Brian Grazer (after Brett Ratner exited; host, Billy Crystal).

Meron and Zadan produced the last three, which were hosted by Seth MacFarlane, Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris.

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