UPDATE, 9:50 PM: After winning the Oscar for Best Director, Ang Lee addressed the financial woes that struck his Life Of Pi VFX collaborators at Rhythm & Hues. “It’s bad news that visual effects are too expensive and I’m aware of Rhythm & Hues’ (situation)”, he said, noting that VFX artists are “more than just technicians”.
PREVIOUSLY, 9:13 PM: The Jaws theme struck less than a minute into VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer’s Life Of Pi Oscar acceptance speech. The ominous play-off tune played for a full 20 seconds as Westenhofer thanked director Ang Lee and began addressing the crisis plaguing the VFX industry. Poor Westenhofer was just starting to acknowledge the recently bankrupted Rhythm & Hues VFX studio, whose employees staged a protest at Hollywood and Vine earlier in the day that gathered over 400 marchers. “Sadly, Rhythm & Hues is suffering severe financial difficulties right now”, he managed to spit out before becoming the first winner of the 85th Academy Awards interrupted by play-off music. (Meanwhile, Best Documentary Oscar winner Malik Bendjelloul got the Jaws hook, too.)
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The VFX workers who made Visual Effects Oscar front-runner Life Of Pi possible are planning a two-fronted protest for Sunday’s 85th Academy Awards. A group of past and present employees of Rhythm … Read More »
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ brave new steps into electronic voting for Oscars after 84 years of the snail mail routine is proceeding well. Most members seem to be getting the message that they must register to vote, as well as pay dues, before they will be eligible when balloting officially begins on December 17th and runs through January 3rd. That is 10 days earlier than last year and smack in the middle of the holiday season so naturally the Academy was a little nervous when they decided to launch this process four months ago. But I’m told things are going smoothly and they have their fingers crossed it will continue that way. “The response has been really favorable. We are very encouraged,” Academy COO Ric Robertson told me this afternoon, adding that most members are going for the electronic voting option but that there have been a “small number” of requests so far for the old fashioned paper ballots. One member though who is working on a major Best Picture contender told me they have heard from numerous other members saying they were requesting a paper ballot (“although they were all 60 and above”). The Academy will provide paper ballots as long as Oscar voters make that request by this Friday November 30. If members desiring traditional paper ballots have not registered to vote and made their request by Friday, they will not be able to participate using that method. Think of it as registering to vote for President. After the cut-off date you’re out of luck. Electronic voting registration however will remain open throughout the entire process ending on January 3rd so there’s another clear advantage for the onliners. Read More »
Hawk Koch has not even been President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for a month yet but he’s already got his producers lined up for the Oscars - no small feat considering the awkward attempt to put a producer and even a host in place (widely reported to be Lorne Michaels and Jimmy Fallon) before he even got elected on July 31st. Koch always told me, on the record and off, that as far as he was concerned his first priority was to get a producer(s) hired and none of the media speculation about who it would be or how it was being done was going to affect that goal. He just forged ahead. And he said it was always going to be his decision, at least from the moment he got elected. And as he told me when we spoke Thursday evening that’s exactly how it has turned out with yesterday’s well-received announcement of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron as this year’s Oscarcast producers.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time but I have only been on the job for three weeks or so”, he said. “But about a week and a half ago it suddenly hit me at 2 AM in the morning. Neil and Craig! They’ve done movies, Broadway, TV, they have great taste and they’d be great to work with. They are real producers”.
Related: In Craig Zadan And Neil Meron, Oscarcast Gets Stability In Long-Running Team
The latter point is particularly important to Koch who, in order to do the one term Academy gig, has taken a leave of absence from his post as Co-President of the Producers Guild. So after his brainstorm he called a mutual friend and ran the idea past him, getting a very enthusiastic agreement that this was the perfect team for the job. When he called Zadan to inquire as to whether they might be interested in producing the Oscars if such a role was offered he says Zadan didn’t hesitate a moment and responded ‘yes’ immediately . “That really surprised me since usually it takes a lot longer to get your choice to agree or they are too busy, not this time though. Craig and Neil are busy but Craig said producing the Oscars was at the very top of their own bucket list,” (the pair produced Rob Reiner’s movie The Bucket List). Read More »
With today’s press release from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences regarding their annual review of rules — these affecting the upcoming 85th Academy Awards in February — the only thing “newsy” was how little news there was. It is … Read More »