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AT THE MOVIES

Oscar hires a fresh face

It's hoped that Hamish Hamilton, who has helmed concert shows, will add a new angle directing the telecast.

November 19, 2009|Yvonne Villarreal

At 82, the Academy Awards are long overdue for some cosmetic enhancement. And the show's producers have tapped a new director they hope can do the job.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced Wednesday that Hamish Hamilton would direct the telecast.

Like the telecast's producers, Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman, Hamilton is a newcomer to the Oscars.

"One of the things that came to mind from Hamish's shows was an unbelievable use of the most current technology with cameras," Shankman said in a telephone interview.

"He also gets inside the emotional elements of the performance. He gives a sense of movement that is really, really compelling. And then when we sat down and had a meeting with him, he made me dizzy with all of his ideas and his energy. That's the kind of director we want to work with on this show."

The British director, 43, has worked on live concert specials with Britney Spears, Neil Diamond, U2 and Stevie Wonder. He's orchestrated live televised events, including the MTV Video Music Awards. In February, he'll direct the Super Bowl XLIV halftime show in Miami.

But Oscar producers have no intention of adopting the over-the-top flashiness of MTV's kudos ceremonies.

They're planning to retain the telecast's sophisticated aesthetic, even while attempting to reach audiences that don't typically tune in for the show.

"It's really important to give the old girl a little a bit of face-lift and build upon what was great last year," Shankman said. "But we are not in any way, shape or form trying to make the Oscars like the MTV awards. We have no interest in alienating the core audience for the Oscars. Our ideas will make it more accessible for young viewers, but we're not reinventing the show."

Oscar nominations are announced Feb. 2.

The March 7 award ceremony, held at the Kodak Theatre and co-hosted by Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, will air live on ABC.

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yvonne.villarreal@latimes.com

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