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New Oscar producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic want to add a 'sense of fun'

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shankman-mechanic_lDirector/producer/choreographer Adam Shankman and veteran studio executive Bill Mechanic will produce next years Oscar ceremony scheduled for March 7, 2010. It will be the first Oscar show for both men. Nikki Finke broke the news on her blog this afternoon. For Shankman, the last time he was involved with the Academy Awards was as a dancer. (He appeared in the 1990 show as a “lycra-clad gymnastic pirate” and as Baron Von Munchausen to celebrate The Little Mermaid and the best costume category.) Since then he has directed numerous features including Hairspray, Bedtime Stories and he can be currently seen as a judge on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance.  (Here is one of his more emotional moments on the show.) And Mechanic, who is now chairman and CEO of Pandemonium Films, is a good friend of Tom Sherak’s, the new president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. The two used to work together at Twentieth Century Fox, where Mechanic was chairman and CEO from 1994 to 2000 when the studio earned 42 Oscar nominations, including two best picture wins for Braveheart and Titanic. How the duo will handle the 10 Best Picture nominees will be interesting and whether or not they will hold on to the changes that last year’s producers Bill Condon and Larry Mark initiated is still up in the air.

UPDATE: After speaking with Shankman, Mechanic and AMPAS president Sherak, it’s clear the trio’s number-one priority is to provide some levity to a show that’s been taking itself too seriously for years now. “What’s not inherent in the show now is a sense of fun and a sense of celebration,” says Mechanic. Shankman adds, “I want the show to reflect the relevance of our industry as opposed to this individual patting-on-the-back notion. It want it to be about movies having a place in the world, in culture, and it’s not just about looking pretty in jewelry.”

Mechanic came aboard the project last week but Sherak didn’t meet Shankman until a few days ago. “He was one of the people on a list I made and I honestly felt after watching what happened last year with the two producers, that having two people with disciplines that were a bit different (from each other) made for a better show. I want to take what they did last year to the next level. I want what we felt inside the auditorium to translate to the TV,” says Sherak.

How the duo will adapt the show from this year is still up for grabs. Sherak confirmed that the new stage that protruded into the audience will be kept but nothing else is a sure thing, not even the host Hugh Jackman. Sources say the song-and-dance man who received high remarks last year is interested in returning. His name has been thrown around with others, including Billy Crystal and Steve Martin. But the producers are mum. They’ll only joke, “We wanted Johnny Carson and Bob Hope. Neither are available so we’ll have to go from there.”

Ironically, when Shankman appeared on the Oscars 20 years ago, it was Billy Crystal’s first time hosting the show. If the veteran host came back, it would be quite a reunion for everyone.

Photo Credit: Shankman: Carlos Diaz/Retna; Mechanic: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.com