<p>Oscar is getting two first-time producers in Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer.</p>

Oscar is getting two first-time producers in Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer.

Credit: AP Photo

Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer named producers of the 83rd Academy Awards

Duo will bring some Best Picture and Olympic prestige to the ceremonies

After last years "almost" disastrous producing by Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences needed a producer or a pair of producers who could bring some stability and taste to this year's event.  Today, they took the first step in bringing some smarts back to the telecast by announcing Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer as producers.  Mischer will also serve as the telecast's technical director.

Academy President Tom Sherak, who said he was "absolutely ecstatic" by the news also knows what he's getting into this time. Both Cohen and Mischer produced the Academy's inaugural Governor's Awards in Nov. of 2009.  And, you could argue they are primed for the difficult political maneuvering needed to wrangle big stars and live up to the high expectations placed on the global king of award shows.

Cohen has already won an Oscar as producer along with business partner Dan Jinks for "American Beauty."  He was nominated again in 2009 for "Milk." His other credits include "Down with Love," "Big Fish" and the TV series "Pushing Daisies." 

Mischer's resume as a producer and director include the opening and closing ceremonies of both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games, "We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial," the 2004 Democratic Convention and a slew of Super Bowl Halftime shows, Emmy Award shows and Tony Awards telecasts.

The duo have also worked together producing the memorable "Movies Rock" special in 2007. 

“I fell in love with the Oscars as an eight-year-old kid, the night my grandmothers let me stay up to watch for the first time,” Cohen said in a statement released by ABC, the show's broadcast partner. “It is a dream come true for me to now be producing the show with the phenomenal Don Mischer, whom I’ve had an incredible time working with in the past. We hope to create a show that celebrates what people around the world love about the Academy Awards year after year – the excitement, glamour and tradition of Oscar Night itself.”

Mischer remarked,“During my previous collaborations with Bruce, I have come to know him as a passionate, smart and creative producer, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to now be working with him on the Oscars.  As a producer and director, I have always been inspired by the live broadcast of major, high-profile events, and when it comes to that, it doesn’t get any bigger than the Academy Awards. The Oscars are truly ‘appointment’ television; they’re eagerly anticipated around the world, and they offer a unique opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary artists who take us on a journey every time we step into a movie theater.”

From this pundit's point of view, Cohen will bring some of the class and sophistication back that Bill Condon and Larry Mark were heralded for in 2009.  Mischer is not a technically innovative director, but he's sure and steady and will make sure the show keeps moving thematically.  Depending on who the host is, this duo could be something special.

The 83rd Academy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011.

Jesse Eisenberg in the poster for David Fincher's The Social Network

Jesse Eisenberg in the poster for David Fincher's The Social Network

Credit: Sony Pictures

Sneak Peek: Poster for David Fincher's 'The Social Network' hints at controversy

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One of the more intriguing releases this fall for both moviegoers and awards season watchers is David Fincher's "The Social Network."  A big departure from the acclaimed filmmaker's last two films, "Zodiac" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," his latest drama is based on the real life story of the men behind Facebook and, more specifically, Mark Zuckerberg, who reportedly pushed his co-founders aside to become the face of the company. 

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Tilda Swinton as Emma in "I Am Love."

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Tilda Swinton's 'I Am Love' a must-see for film lovers

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Usually when you see a preview or commercial for a film that uses a quote as over-the-top as "see it by any means necessary," your first instinct is to not take it that seriously.  I mean, what movie can be so good that you must see it? "Avatar"? "The Dark Knight"?  "Citizen Kane"?  In the case of Luca Guadagnino's "I Am Love" I only wish I'd said it first.

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Would love to show you a photo of the "Kids Are All Right" stars on the red carpet, but AP Photo didn't cover. Instead, they were ready to take shots of the LAPD dealing with crowd control across the street.

Credit: AP Photo/Richard Vogel

As Lakers celebrate, LAFF opens with 'The Kids Are All Right'

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One of the best films of the year had its Los Angeles premiere Thursday night as the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival kicked off in downtown LA with "The Kids Are All Right."  Stars Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wachokowsi (Alice in "Alice in Wonderland") and Josh Hutcherson (to be or not to be "Spider-Man") walked the red carpet and even "Glee's" Jane Lynch was in attendance.  Unfortunately for LAFF, game 7 of the NBA Finals between the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics was going on -- literally -- right across the street at Staples Center. 

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Jonah Hill talks "Cyrus"

Jonah Hill talks "Cyrus"

Watch: Jonah Hill correctly predicts a 'Lakers' win and talks 'Cyrus'

The LA native hasn't given up on his hometown team

This is a big weekend for limited releases. Two of the best films at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, "Cyrus" and "I Am Love," are making their debut.

"Cyrus," is an outrageous, but moving comedy from the talented Duplass brothers which finds Hill playing a young adult who just can't leave home. and has a very close relationship with his mother (Marisa Tomei) In fact, his relationship with his mother may be a tad, "too" close.  At least, that's the opinion of John C. Reilly's character who has fallen for Cyrus' dear old, but sexy mom.  It's certainly the darkest and most difficult role the "Superbad" star had taken to date and is nothing like his turn as a wannabe music exec in the hit comedy "Get Him to the Greek"

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The exclusive premiere of the Animal Kingdom Poster with Guy Pearce

The exclusive premiere of the Animal Kingdom Poster with Guy Pearce

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Exclusive: Sundance winner 'Animal Kingdom' poster

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The Los Angeles Film Festival kicks off tomorrow and both Drew McWeeny and myself will be covering as much as we can of the 10-day event in its new downtown digs. The festival has an incredibly intriguing slate this year including a number of notable titles from January's Sundance Film Festival that will soon be slowly debuting nationwide.  One of those is the Sundance World Cinema Jury Prize winner "Animal Kingdom." 

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Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan in "Never Let Me Go"

Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan in "Never Let Me Go."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Watch: Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan bring Sci-Fi prestige back with 'Never Let Me Go'

One of fall's early awards contenders shows its wares

Director Mark Romanek has created some of the most iconic imagery of the past 15 years in the world of music videos.  From Madonna's "Bedtime Stories" to Michael and Janet Jackson's "Scream" to Johnny Cash's "Hurt" and Fiona Apple's controversial "Criminal," Romanek has displayed an eye and sophistication almost unrivaled among his peers.  While many of his counterparts were able to easily segue into movie careers (some successfully, some not), his road has been much more difficult. 

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Scarlett Johansson

Presenter Scarlett Johansson on the Red Carpet of the 2010 MTV Movie Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Live blogging the 2010 MTV Movie Awards: 'Avatar' vs. 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon'

Pretty sure the show set a record for the most [expletive's] bleeped out in TV history over two hours

It's another gorgeous Sunday here in Los Angeles, but the city's attention is focused on two major events Sunday night: Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the LA Lakers and the 2010 MTV Movie Awards.  And, of course, they are airing opposite each other no doubt causing torn allegiances among Hollywood's celebrity elite.  Do they go to Staples Center for the Finals or trek to Universal City for the "New Moon" vs. "Avatar" battle on MTV?  Your guess is as good as mine, but we're going to do our best to present a candid play by play of the annual MTV event. And if you don't know who host Aziz Ansari, well unless you've seen "Funny People" or "Parks and Recreation," don't worry about it.

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Leonardo DiCaprio in a UK poster for "Inception."

Leonardo DiCaprio in a UK poster for "Inception."

Credit: Warner Bros

No summer off for Oscar: 'Inception,' 'The Kids are All Right,' 'Toy Story 3'

Eight feature films that will be heard from next February

Traditionally, Oscar takes the summer off. Sure, you'll get an occasional best picture release such as "Gladiator," "Braveheart" or last year's winner "The Hurt Locker," but most of the contenders don't hit the ground until well past Labor Day.  Well, the 10 nominee system has changed all that.

Last year, four of the best picture nominees were released in the summer: "Up," "Inglourious Basterds," "District 9" and "Locker."  The 83rd Academy Awards probably won't match that total, but there are more summer players than usual for awards season overall.  Just previewing the feature films, there are eight releases that should easily make some noise over the next three months. 

A couple of quick caveats before reviewing the contenders.  Universal's "Despicable Me" didn't make the cut because it's unclear how many nods there will be for best animated feature this go around (it's probably back to only three nods).  With "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Toy Story 3" pretty much locks already, "Me" is likely to be shut out of a relatively crowded field with "Tangled" and "Megamind" on the horizon (see "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" last year). Some critics like the Sundance release "The Killer Inside Me," but it's not going to get director Michael Winterbottom or his cast any awards attention.  And, as fun and great a performance Jim Carrey gives in the long-delayed "I Love You Philip Morris" we're not gonna believe that film is coming out till we see it projected in a theater.

With that in mind...

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Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"

Ian McKellen is 71 guys, he's not gonna be able to trek through the New Zealand mountains as Gandalf for much longer.

Credit: New Line Cinema

Which of these filmmakers will direct 'The Hobbit"?

17 potential candidates to replace the departing Guillermo del Toro

The surprising announcement today that Guillermo del Toro is relinquishing his directing chores on the long-delayed, but highly anticipated production of "The Hobbit" couldn't have been that big a surprise to many industry observers.  Del Toro has numerous commitments in a lucrative deal with Universal Pictures (which notably has no financial stake in "The Hobbit") that couldn't wait much longer and there are rumblings that he and producer Peter Jackson may not have seen eye to eye on all aspects of the production.  However, the good news is that there are two scripts for the two-part film that are finally ready to go. The money to shoot the films is obviously the crux of del Toro's departure.

The strangest part of his reasoning, as some pundits have noted, is that the MGM situation del Toro credited as causing his withdrawal should be resolved within the next three months.  And if it isn't, expect Warner Bros. to try to force the beleaguered lion to sell their stake in the project or come up with a third solution.  Plus, Ian McKellen ain't getting any younger.  This has to shoot soon -- or never.

Word is Jackson, Fran Walsh and del Toro will start work on finding a replacement director within the week.  With that in mind, here's a list of intriguing candidates they will no likely consider.

But before you wonder where "so and so" is, some quick eliminations.  Zack Snyder? Uh, no.  The Wachowskis?  The comeback won't be under Jackson's watch. J.J. Abrams? Busy.  Jon Favreau? Busy and not right for it.  Kathryn Bigelow?  Seems like a big stretch even for her talents. Ron Howard? Now you're just being silly. And for those suggesting Clint Eastwood, you've had a bit too much to drink this holiday weekend.

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