Credit: Image Credit: Rhythm & Hues

After the ratings hit of their musical-infused, Seth MacFarlane-hosted Oscar telecast, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will be returning to again oversee next year’s ceremony.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that the duo, who previously produced such films as Chicago, Hairspray, and The Bucket List, would be coming back, which is unusually long lead-time. The ceremony will take place March 2, 2014.

There’s no host in place, of course, and it seems unlikely that MacFarlane would return. Just a few weeks before fulfilling his emcee duties, he was emphatic when asked by EW if he would consider doing the show again: “It’s cool to do it once,” he said. “I’m happy to be doing it this one time, but I just can’t take that kind of time out of my schedule again.”

Zadan and Meron have a fairly deep bench of contacts — they were able to get everyone from Jack Nicholson to Barbra Streisand to show up for the last show. Their relationships with young Hollywood are just as tight: perhaps Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Daniel Radcliffe, who tap-danced in the most recent show opener, could be persuaded to step into center stage as hosts?

“Craig and Neil have great relationships, a sense of showmanship, and a passion for our Academy,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement announcing their return. “And they’re a pleasure to work with. All perfect qualities for our show.”

The Feb. 24 broadcast on ABC was one of the highest-rated Oscars in recent years.

Viewership shot up 3 percent to 40.3 million and skyrocketed 11 percent in the coveted 18 to 49 age demo. ”At this point, we’ve broadened it to the point where it also skewed astonishingly well in male viewers, and went much younger,” Zadan told EW the day after the show.

It wasn’t without some controversy. MacFarlane was attacked by some critics for his raunchy song spoof about actress nudity titled ”We Saw Your Boobs,” which was presented as a bit of have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too meta-comedy about what a disastrously crass show might look like. But despite some grumbling, the numbers were overwhelmingly positive.

Highlights included a James Bond tribute, which featured song performances by Adele (who went on to win the Oscar for her theme to Skyfall) and Shirley Bassey, who belted out her iconic theme to Goldfinger. While Argo would win the Best Picture award, the show was conceived with the overall theme of honoring the movie musical, with tributes to a handful of films from the genre released over the past decade.

In a statement, Academy president Hawk Koch said the two producers have the overwhelming support of the Academy’s Governors: “In order to establish continuity with this year’s enormously successful show, we felt it was important to give these consummate professionals the green light now to begin creating another great evening.”

With plans already underway, the big question is: Who will be the next host?

We may not know for several months, but MacFarlane had a theory — even as he predicted (correctly) that critics would lambaste him: “Tina [Fey] and Amy [Poehler] will do it next year and they’ll get rave reviews,” he joked.

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