In the first major move of recently elected AMPAS president David Rubin, the Academy announced today that there will be two new producers of Hollywood’s biggest night, the Oscars. Lynette Howell Taylor and Stephanie Allain have agreed to produce the telecast, replacing last year’s duo, Donna Gigliotti and Glenn Weiss. One would expect that Weiss, who has directed four Oscars and won a Primetime Emmy for his work helming the 90th Oscars in 2018, might return in that capacity. Then again, nothing is certain.
In a statement from the Academy, Rubin remarked, “The combined producing talents of Lynette and Stephanie will bring dynamism and excitement to the 92nd Oscars show. Their vast production experience ranges from groundbreaking independent film to global blockbuster. We look forward to collaborating with them to bring an unforgettable Oscars event to movie fans around the world.”
The duo noted in combined remarks, “We have both watched the Oscars for as long as we can remember, and to be given the opportunity to produce the show is a dream. It’s an honor and a thrill to join forces to deliver an entertaining show that celebrates the artistry of this year’s best films.”
Dawn Hudson, the secret power behind the thrown as AMPAS’ CEO, added, “How thrilling to have both Lynette and Stephanie leading our Oscars production team. I have every confidence that they will deliver a high-caliber performance.”
ABC president Karey Burke chimed in praising the move, saying “We have our first win this Oscars season and it’s having Lynette Howell Taylor and Stephanie Allain produce our biggest live event of the year. Lynette and Stephanie have impeccable taste, are at the top of their field, and have such a distinct and wonderful way of captivating audiences with storytelling that is compelling, creative and filled with superstars. We can’t wait to see their imagination come to life on the grandest, most coveted stage in Hollywood.”
This is a somewhat late date to announce the producers for the telecast, especially with this year’s ceremony moved up two weeks to February 9, 2020, from its traditional end of February perch. Taylor and Allain now have less than three months to put a show together that can either hold the slight uptick in ratings that the 91st telecast achieved or break viewing habits that found the 90th Oscars the lowest rated in over 30 years. The bigger question is whether they will keep the budget-friendly non-host formula that kept the show on time this past February or pull in a name to bring in hopes it brings in bigger ratings. Rubin and ABC have both said they enjoy the lack of a host, but it’s unclear if that’s why the 91st telecast saw marginally higher ratings or whether it was the fact global blockbuster “Black Panther” was nominated for Best Picture.
If you haven’t heard of either producer it’s not that surprising, but they are industry veterans although you might peg them more as Independent Spirit Awards producers than Oscar ones. Allain is mostly an indie film producer who has helped launch the careers of filmmakers such as John Singleton, Robert Rodriguez, Craig Brewer, Sanaa Hamri and Justin Simien. She was also a senior executive at Columbia Pictures, Jim Henson Pictures and 3 Arts Entertainment before forming her own production company in 2003. At that point, she produced acclaimed features such as “Hustle & Flow,” “Dear White People” and “Beyond the Lights.” Allain was also the director of the Los Angeles Film Festival from 2011-2016 (it fell apart after her departure) and serves on the board of the influential organization, Women in Film.
Taylor also got her start in the indie film world producing titles such as “Half Nelson” and “Blue Valentine.” She’s also shepherded “Big Eyes,” “The Accountant” and, most notably, “A Star is Born,” which earned her a Best Picture nomination.
The next big show to drop will be whether the telecast will have a host or not. ABC will broadcast whatever the outcome live on Sunday, Feb. 9.