The Craig Zadan and Neil Meron era has drawn to a close for the Academy Awards telecast, which has been produced by the duo the past three years but will head in a new direction come 2016.
During their time producing the Oscars, the stage and screen musical veterans experienced their share of ups and downs, in both ratings and reviews. Here's a look back at how they fared.
The host: Looking to bring a bit of edge to the ceremony and appeal to a broader audience — "Finally! An Oscars the guys can enjoy!" said the ABC promotions — Zadan and Meron tapped "Family Guy" and "Ted" creator Seth MacFarlane as emcee.
The show: MacFarlane was a polarizing host, to say the least. Many critics, like The Times' Mary McNamara, didn't go for his bad-boy schtick. She wrote, "As expected, MacFarlane was occasionally crude and mildly offensive; unfortunately, he wasn't very funny."
One musical number that drew particular ire was "We Saw Your Boobs," a cheery, Broadway-esque salute to the topless scenes of Hollywood's leading ladies. Many viewers and critics found the gag crass and sexist.
Others, however, commended MacFarlane's hosting. The Associated Press' Frazier Moore wrote, "MacFarlane seized the camera Sunday as host of ABC's Oscarcast and proved to its vast audience that he's a ridiculously versatile entertainer, a guy who can be as charming as he is famously irreverent, even polarizing."
MacFarlane aside, the 2013 show was also touted as the first Oscar telecast with a theme — saluting music in movies. That led to some memorable moments (Adele performing "Skyfall," Shirley Bassey performing "Goldfinger") but also some forgettable ones (a drawn-out tribute to Hollywood musicals, including the Zadan-and-Meron-executive-produced "Chicago").
The ratings: The 2013 show drew an average of 40.3 million viewers, the best for the Oscars since 2010 and up a modest 2% from the previous year.
The host: After MacFarlane's divisive stint, Zadan and Meron called on the steadying presence of comedian and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, who previously hosted the Oscars in 2007.
The show: DeGeneres was a congenial emcee who often ventured into the crowd to tease the A-list celebs in attendance and enlist them in comedic bits. At one point she snapped a star-studded selfie with Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Spacey, Lupita Nyong'o and others, ultimately breaking Twitter's retweet record.
For another gag, she had a real pizza delivery guy bring out 20 pizzas and hand them out to the likes of Harrison Ford and Julia Roberts. (Harvey Weinstein was called upon to pony up some cash, and did.)
DeGeneres' performance met with generally favorable reviews, though she wasn't exactly daring and didn't do much to keep the show from stretching past the three-hour mark.
Once again there were plenty of musical performances — by Pharrell Williams, U2, Karen O, Idina Menzel, Pink, Bette Midler and others — but the most engaging moments were the heartfelt speeches by winners such as Jared Leto, Cate Blanchett and Nyong'o.
The "Adele Dazeem" trip-up was pretty funny too.
The ratings: The 2014 show drew an average of 43 million viewers, a 14-year ratings high.
The host: Having aced the Tonys and Emmys, Neil Patrick Harris seemed like a no-brainer to finally graduate to Oscars host.
The show: Harris did, indeed, get the 2015 ceremony off to a razzle-dazzle start via "Moving Pictures," a song-and-dance routine penned by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, of "Frozen" fame.
Alas, things went downhill from there. A magic trick set up at the top of the show was dragged out interminably and failed to pay off, for example, and Harris never seemed to find his groove as joke after joke fell flat.
He made a poorly timed crack about a winner's dress moments after she had spoken of her son's suicide and later quipped about Edward Snowden not being present "for some treason." Reviews of Harris' performance were mixed but often critical.
Among the show's highlights were John Legend and Common performing their winning song "Glory" (and their acceptance speech); Lady Gaga singing a well-received medley from "The Sound of Music; "Ida" director Pawel Pawlikowski ignoring the orchestra playoff while accepting the foreign-language film prize; and Terrence Howard awkwardly flubbing his presenter duties.
The ratings: The 2015 show drew an average of 37.3 million viewers, down 15% and a six-year low. Not an ideal way for Zadan and Meron to end their run.
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