Today’s news that filmmaker Brett Ratner will co-produce next year’s Academy Awards ceremony alongside returning producer Don Mischer was certainly unexpected. Ratner and Mischer got on the phone to discuss how the pairing came about and what we might expect from their telecast.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Brett, did you petition the Academy for this gig or did they come to you?
BRETT RATNER: Are you kidding? I can’t believe they even let me in the building. I got a call from [Academy president] Tom Sherak and [CEO] Dawn Hudson. They said, “Can you talk to us about the Oscars?” And I just started rattling off what I thought.
DON MISCHER: They said to me, “Would you go meet with Brett Ratner?” Of course I knew who he was. His enthusiasm was just overwhelming, and his knowledge of film history and the tradition of film. I just said, “It would really be fun to work with this guy.”
In the announcement, Dawn Hudson said you had “a really smart and fresh take for the show.” What did she mean?
BR: Oh God, I just got hired! You’ve got to give me a little bit of time. But I can tell you it entails comedy. The key to this show is making it funny. But respecting the pedigree and the old Hollywood history. Comedy is what I do. I know how to entertain people. I want to laugh when I’m watching a show like this. But I’m not looking to come in and shake it up and reinvent it. I can’t change the Academy; I can just do a great show.
Don, this year’s show was not well received by most critics. What lessons did you learn?
DM: Every time I do anything, whether it’s an Olympics ceremony or a Springsteen concert, I never walk away from a project without taking lessons from it. We always tend to focus on the things that didn’t work. That’s just part of what we do.
You guys must already be thinking about whom you’ll ask to host. Do you already have someone in mind?
BR: Honestly, we haven’t even talked about it. We walked in this morning, we shook hands and said “Let’s do this.” We didn’t even get to that. I’m going to put together my list and we’ll have a debate about it for sure.
Some people think Oprah Winfrey should host, particularly since she’s already receiving an honorary award this year.
BR: That would be weird. Hosting and getting an award? Then we can broadcast it on the O network.
In the last three years, some of the industry’s top gay filmmakers — Bill Condon, Laurence Mark, Adam Shankman, and Bruce Cohen — all spearheaded the Oscars telecast. What business do two straight guys have producing the gay Super Bowl?
BR: Can you believe it? What’s that called, when you’re a straight guy who’s…
BR: I’m a metrosexual. Or I’m going to become one.