STAGE TO SCREENS: Broadway's Craig Zadan and Neil Meron Set the Oscar Broadcast to Music

By Robert Simonson
20 Feb 2013

The pair made it clear from the start that they were going to approach the Oscars differently than their predecessors. "We were told that, in the past, a lot of the show didn't get conceived until after the nominations were announced," explained Zadan. "We didn't do that. When we got the job, we conceived the show at that point and structured the show. We wanted the show to be conceptual. As a result, we created a show that left windows for each of the categories of the nominations. So the nominees fit into the show that we designed. Once the nominees were announced, it didn't really change the show very much."

Barbra Streisand
photo by Russell James

The first calls they made were to Barbra Streisand and Adele. Adele will take part in the James Bond celebration; she will sing the the title tune of "Skyfall," the Bond film released in 2012.

Streisand was not difficult to convince; she is friendly with the two producers. After a few conversations, she signed on. "This is the first time Barbra is singing on the Oscars in 36 years," declared Zadan. "The last time — she only performed once on the Oscars, and that was in 1977 when she performed 'Evergreen' from 'A Star is Born.' We're beyond, beyond, beyond thrilled."

Performing at the Oscars for the very first time will be Shirley Bassey, who has sung the signature tunes of three James Bond films. (Though Zadan and Meron would not confirm it, it's a relative certainly that Bassey will shake the rafters with her most famous Bond song, "Goldfinger.")

"The Bond music has been sorely neglected to the Academy," commented Meron. "Some of the greatest music for movies is for the James Bond films. We're so glad to celebrate the 50th anniversary."

The celebration of recent movie musicals will feature Meron and Zadan's own "Chicago," as well as "Dreamgirls" and "Les Miserables." Expect performers associated with those films. (The producers would not say whom, but a day after the publication of this piece, the stars were announced.)

Meron and Zadan know, however, that they are producing a show that honors film, not theatre.

"Nothing in the show will be simply presentational," added Zadan. "Everything will be multi-media, because it is a show about the movies. There will always be a cinematic element, even when people are performing."