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Where's the new Oscar producer?

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It’s October 9 and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences still hasn’t filled the hardest job in Hollywood: Oscar producer. The show is still a good five months away (March 7)  but this is the Oscars and the job of producer is probably the biggest time-suck around. (Last year’s producers, director Bill Condon and producer Laurence Mark, were announced on Sept. 24.)

Says Academy’s publicist Leslie Unger, “I don’t know when we’ll have a producer but we’re not in panic mode.” Word on the street is that the Academy is closing in on their choice but no deal is yet in place. A few sources say the Academy, now being led by veteran marketing executive Tom Sherak, is still interested in having a director/producer team helm the show considering how well the Condon/Mark pair-up went over. (Neither filmmaker is available to do it this time around.)

Trouble is, not everyone wants the job. Multiple sources have confirmed that some of the town’s uber-producers have already turned it down. And it’s practically common knowledge that the Academy asks visionary director–and Oscar geek– Steven Spielberg to produce every year and he always says no. This year there is also the added pressure of making the new rule of ten best picture nominees work.  One source thinks the additional best picture noms might make it easier since the Oscars is about celebrating the year in movies and so many more will already be represented. Still, producing the Oscars is often a thankless job. People rarely remember the good and with so much of the show already set in stone, making changes is a challenging task. Just think about the logistics that went into last year’s new concept of securing five former best actors/actress winners to come on stage to present the new recipient into the club.