New Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron honored by Outfest

Zadan (left) and Meron.

This February, they’ll be giving out the awards, but right now the newly announced Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will be receiving their own trophy.

The producing partners, whose credits include Footloose, Chicago, and Hairspray, have been selected to receive the Visionary Award from Outfest, the organization dedicated to gay and lesbian entertainment, at the group’s 8th annual Legacy Awards.

They will receive the award at the Oct. 13 ceremony from Glee‘s Darren Criss, who recently starred on Broadway in the duo’s revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

The Visionary Award is meant to honor Zadan and Meron’s “contribution to LGBT arts and media visibility,” and the Legacy Awards ceremony is a fundraiser for Outfest’s film preservation initiative with UCLA, aimed at protecting and archiving gay and lesbian visual storytelling.

“Thanks to Craig and Neil’s exceptional work in movies, television and on stage, they have given a loud and clear voice to LGBT characters that reaches the widest possible audience,”  Kirsten Schaffer, executive director of Outfest, said in a statement. “We are very proud to honor two friends and longtime supporters of Outfest and are grateful for their profound impact on the LGBT community.”

Zadan and Meron issued a statement saying, “We hope we can help spread the word that the community needs to embrace and support this outstanding group, that does so much to enrich the art and the lives of LGBT people everywhere.”

A key part of the October awards ceremony will be a screening of the the 1919 silent film Different From the Others, a preservation project undertaken by the group, which is believed to be the earliest film made about the gay community. Directed by Richard Oswald and co-written by psychologist Magnus Hirschfeld, it was part of a group of gay-friendly films made in Germany during the time, although this is the only one that escaped being destroyed by the Nazis.

While they’ve produced quite a few musicals and bio-pics for TV, Zadan and Meron are newcomers to the awards show production game, apart from overseeing the 2005 GLAAD Media Awards. Their participation could bring a fresh perspective to the show, which has attempted, with varying degrees of success, to evolve over the past several years.

The Oscar telecast takes place Feb. 24, but Zadan and Meron  — who just accepted the job last week — have a lot of work to do before that. First up: finding a host.

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