Film Academy Responds To Backlash Over Presentation of 4 Oscars During Ad Breaks
In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo, John Bailey arrives at the 90th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
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Responding to widespread backlash to the fact that four Oscars--for Best Cinematography, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Live-Action Short--will be presented during commercial breaks at the 91st Academy Awards, the film academy has issued a statement saying that all Academy Award winners will still be included in the broadcast on Feb. 24.

A joint statement from the film academy’s board of governors on Wednesday criticized “inaccurate reporting” and social media posts for what they described as a “chain of misinformation” that has angered film academy members. 

The statement read in part, “As the Academy’s officers, we’d like to assure you that no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others.”

Signed by Academy president John Bailey--as well as VPs Lois Burwell, Sid Ganis and Larry Karaszewski, among others--the letter went on to “restate and explain the plans for presenting the awards as endorsed by the Academy’s Board of Governors,” noting that:

  • All 24 categories will be presented on stage in the Dolby Theatre and included in the broadcast.
  • The four categories to be presented during commercial breaks were volunteered by their branches to have their nominees and winners announced by presenters and included later in the broadcast. Time spent walking to the stage and off will be edited out.
  • In future years, four to six different categories may be selected for rotation, in collaboration with the show producers. This year’s four categories will be exempted in 2020.
  • This change in the show--part of an effort to shorten the broadcast to three hours--was discussed and agreed to by the Board of Governors in August, with the full support of the branch executive committees. Such decisions are fully deliberated.

Critics of the changes include directors Alfonso Cuaron, Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese. Prior to the Academy statement which went out as an email to its membership on Wednesday (2/13), earlier in the day an open letter was sent to Bailey, signed by such notable directors as Lee, Scorsese and Damien Chazelle, and cinematographers Roger Deakins, Caleb Deschanel, Robert Richardson, and Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki. The letter was signed by more than 40 artists, ranging from directors to DPs, editors and production designers, among others.

The open letter read in part, “Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status in this 91st Academy Awards ceremony is nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession.” 

This morning, Steven Poster, ASC, national president of the International Cinematographers Guild (ICG, IATSE Local 600), added his voice to the growing industry concern over the Academy’s decision. In an issued statement, Poster shared, “This decision is extremely disheartening. As Matt Loeb, international president of the IATSE, said, 'these below-the-line crafts including cinematographers, editors and hair and makeup stylists, are the very core of movie-making.' I immediately reached out to Academy president John Bailey, a member of our own guild, who assured me that all of the nominees would be ‘noted’ during the broadcast. It’s not the same. This is a collaborative process and this change appears to elevate certain crafts above others. People wait their entire lives to receive an Oscar in front of millions and it is humiliating to have that moment reduced to an afterthought.”


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