Oscar Preview: 'Les Mis, Chicago' Casts to Sing & Dance

"What we don't want to do is play it safe," says one of Sunday night's producers

Photo: Universal (2); Miramax

Strike up the band, for Sunday night’s Oscars promise to be very musical.

In the most detailed preview yet of what is to be expected – and what isn’t – the 85th annual Academy Awards producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron tell Deadline.com that their special tribute to the resurgence of movie musicals in the past decade will star Les Misérables nominees Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway with costars Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tevit, Samantha Barks, and Helena Bonham Carter; Dreamgirls Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson; and Chicago winner Catherine Zeta-Jones.

“What we don’t want to do is play it safe,” says Zadan about the show in general, admitting – repeatedly – that the job of producing it is “enormous.”

So is the Oscar night orchestra: 60 pieces. Accompanying all those instruments will be:

• The previously announced Barbra Streisand has only sung once before on the show (and that was 36 years ago)

Golden Globe song winner Adele (“Skyfall” is up for Best Song) and “Goldfinger” diva Shirley Bassey, an Oscar newbie, who’ll appear as part of the James Bond 50th anniversary tribute

• And the evening’s host, Seth MacFarlane, who’s been known to break into song on more than one occasion – such as when he hosted SNL.

Other reveals:

• “It’s not going to be three hours but we will try to get it close to that,” says Zadan. (There are 24 categories to recognize.)

• Six college filmmaking students will serve as Oscar presenters after winning a contest to be on the show.

• The 007 tribute will not feature a reunion of Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

• MacFarlane’s opening monologue is “clever and sort of unique like a throwback to the days of Bob Hope and Johnny Carson,” says Zadan.

• Streisand’s number is being kept a secret, “but we love the speculation,” says Meron.

The 85th annual Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, Feb. 24, on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

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