The new members announced today after voting are re-upped for three-year terms. This comes ahead of the August 5 board meeting to elect the Academy’s officers. On that ballot will be current Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is up for her second of a potential four one-year terms and is expected to be re-upped. Isaacs, from the Public Relations Branch, was among the eight governors re-elected today, a list that includes Academy Secretary Phil Robinson (Writers Branch) ; five new first-timers were also voted in. Here’s the release:
The Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures isn’t slated to open there for another three years, but the old May Company building at Wilshire and Fairfax is getting a taste of Tinseltown in the fall. The Academy said today that it is bringing the touring exhibit Hollywood Costume to the Miracle Mile for a five-month run in October. The exhibit put together by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London features nearly 150 costumes, and the Academy is adding 30 more from such recent films as Dallas Buyers Club, The Hunger Games and Django Unchained, along with a new interview with Quentin Tarantino and Django costume designer Sharen Davis. Hollywood Costume also will feature the original ruby slippers from The Wizard Of Oz, shown with Dorothy’s blue and white gingham pinafore dress, and clothes from such classics as Mary Poppins, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Titanic.
Oscars: Controversy Erupts Over New Documentary Branch Rules – Are Smaller, More Serious Films Being Pushed Out Of Race?
The June 27th announcement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences regarding new and tweaked rules for the 87th Academy Awards seemed pretty much by-the-numbers at the time, but in the days since has engendered controversy over a new requirement in the Documentary Feature category that now requires even stiffer regulations for a film’s seven-day qualifying run. Instead of the previous requirement of two shows a day without specifying times, the new rule calls for a minimum of four shows per day at theatres in LA and NY with screenings beginning between noon-10 PM including at least one “prime” show beginning between 6-10 PM. Sources at the Academy tell me this is an effort to get the films seen by the public in a theatrical setting.
“The main reason was to get those documentaries to be seen by paying audiences,” an Academy executive told me. “As you know a lot of those (qualifying runs ) movies are basically four-walled at 11 AM and nobody sees them in a theatre. So by allowing four showings daily for a week it allows so much greater access for the consumer and the public to see these movies.” I am told the docu branch leadership was passionate about the change because “it really allows the movie fan to see documentaries with so much more opportunity.” It also reinforces the idea that these Oscar-qualifying films are indeed theatrical experiences, something the Academy has always been rightfully concerned about emphasizing in their annual competition.
As it has dozens of times before, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has sued in response to someone trying to make a buck hawking an Oscar. This time the case involves a statuette sold to an unknown buyer for nearly $80,000 just one week ago. In a suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), the Academy takes umbrage to Briarbrook Auction Services auctioning off the Oscar awarded to Joseph Wright in 1942 for his color and art direction on My Gal Sal. The Academy’s bylaws strictly spell out that neither the recipients of the awards nor their successors — Wright died in 1985 — can sell the statuettes without first offering them to the Academy. The suit says Academy officials sent a letter explaining its rules to the Rhode Island-based auction house and followed with calls — one of which, it says, ended with the woman who answered hanging up with she learned it was Hollywood calling. The suit says Briarbrook auctioned off the Oscar on June 24 anyway, netting $79,200. Now the Academy is suing for that amount and other damages and seeking a jury trial. Attorneys Gary Gans, Christopher Tayback and William Rollins of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan are representing the Academy.
The new rules that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences‘ Board of Governors approved for the 87th Oscars are minor tweaks to existing rules and won’t greatly affect this year’s race. The most significant change allows producer duos who meet certain criteria to compete as a single producer, which creates the possibility of more producing nominees for Best Picture. Also, if a music group opts to submit a song for Oscar consideration under the group’s name, its members will receive only one statuette rather than one for everyone in the band. And in what sounds like a no-brainer, studios and production companies now have a cap on the number of actors and actresses they can nominate from a single film. This will curb the common practice of simply submitting an alphabetical list of a pic’s entire cast. Here is today’s AMPAS release:
The Oscar organization has unveiled its annual invitees list for 2014. Check out the release below:
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 271 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2014. “This year’s class of invitees represents some of the most talented, creative and passionate filmmakers working in our industry today,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “Their contributions to film have entertained audiences around the world, and we are proud to welcome them to the Academy.”
The 2014 invitees are:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced updated rules and regulations in how contending movies can be promoted and marketed to members, but other than a specific addition to rules concerning the music branch, there wasn’t much new in the announcement except a tweak here and there. Publicists and Academy consultants were invited to a meeting earlier this month led by Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and marketing head Christina Kounelias. As is the case each year following Oscar season, they are given the opportunity to offer feedback on the rules and serve up any improvements that might be needed. But the only real change came about because of the controversy over the Best Song nomination for the obscure, then-unknown “Alone Yet Not Alone” from the film of the same title (which finally was released to theaters this month). As first reported on Deadline just hours after nominations were announced, Former Academy Governor and Music Branch head Bruce Broughton had contacted several members of the branch via email to urge them to give consideration to the song he co-wrote with lyricist Dennis Spiegel. This ran afoul of accepted Oscar campaigning behavior and raised eyebrows within — and outside of — the branch. It led to a near-unprecedented disqualification of the song, despite vigorous protests from Broughton, who previously had hired a music publicist to help with his grass roots campaign before deciding to contact members (at least 70) on his own. Because of his insider connections in the Academy it appeared he had an unfair advantage over other contenders (“Let It Go” from Frozen was the eventual winner). In an obvious, and inevitable, reaction to this, the Academy has now decided to spell out this new rule very clearly:
The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences‘ new weekly video series Academy Originals launched today with three episodes. The digital documentary-style video series will examine everything from the creative process, to the moments that changed the course of filmmaking, to the artists who are charting its future. Here’s a look at one of three episodes that debuted today: Let’s Go To The Movies With Patton Oswalt, which follows the comedian/actor/movie fanatic who is offered the opportunity to screen any film from the Academy Film Archive and analyze it with comedian Karen Kilgariff. Original episodes will be available every Monday from the Academy’s digital team, which will draw on the expertise of the organization’s membership and collection of archival material. Here’s the Oswalt bit focusing on the noir classic Blast Of Silence:
We’re hearing the Academy is aiming for consistency and has nailed down Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to produce the Oscarcast for a third year running. Here’s how much consistency: the Academy announced the pair was returning for the 86th Oscars almost exactly a year ago (and they announced Ellen DeGeneres as host that August). It’s the first time since 1997-1999 (Gil Cates) that the Oscars has had the same producer three years in a row. In March, Meron, Zadan and DeGeneres together built a show that drew 43.7 million viewers with a 13.1/33 rating in adults 18-49, the most watched Academy Awards since 2000 and the highest-rated in the demo since 2010. The speculation right now is if the Academy wants consistency with the producers then they’d seek it with a host, but nothing has been set. Here’s today’s release:
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Motion picture, television and theater producing team Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will return to produce the Oscars for a third consecutive year, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced today. The 87th Oscars will air live on the ABC Television Network on Oscar® Sunday, February 22, 2015.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Craig and Neil back to produce the Oscars again in 2015,” said Boone Isaacs. “Their showmanship has elevated the show to new heights and we are excited to keep the momentum going with this creative partnership.”
As a commemoration period begins today on the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, here’s an inspiring story about a country whose film industry we don’t often hear about. U.S. filmmaker Leah Warshawski has helped to create a free online resource to streamline producing films in Rwanda. The outreach project, RwandaFilm.org, was built in partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, nonprofit network Bpeace, and the Rwandan government to connect local filmmakers with one another and with job opportunities. Warshawski embarked on the project after making her documentary, Finding Hillywood (see trailer below). Focused on the pioneers of Rwanda’s film industry, it won the Documentary Feature Audience Award at the Napa Valley Film Festival last November. It previously premiered at the Seattle Film Festival. I caught up with Warshawski recently from Idaho, where Finding Hillywood was playing the Sun Valley Film Festival. She explained that she’d been in Rwanda in 2007 on another project and was told about the Rwandan Film Festival, which brings movies to large audiences around the country on inflatable screens, and how “thousands of people stand in a stadium” to watch them. Warshawski, who has done crew work on TV series including Lost and Survivor and features Along Came Polly and He’s Just Not That Into You, said it was “intriguing enough to make a movie about” and that led in to starting RwandaFilm.org.
Hillywood gets its name thanks to Rwanda’s moniker as the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” and movies that have shot there include 1988’s Gorillas In The Mist; 100 Days, produced by Rwanda Film Fest founder Eric Kabera; 2004’s Hotel Rwanda; 2005’s Beyond The Gates; 2007’s Shake Hands With The Devil; 2012 award-winning documentary Rising From Ashes; and HBO Emmy nominee Sometimes In April. As for filmmaking by locals, Rwanda is unlikely to become Nollywood anytime soon, but is creating a boutique industry with more movies traveling to festivals. The first feature film written, directed and produced by a Rwandan, Grey Matter, won a Special Jury Mention in Tribeca in 2011.
Earlier, this afternoon, Bruce Broughton had his say about the rescinding of the Oscar nomination for the title song from Alone Yet Not Alone. Here’s another side of the story, in a letter Deadline obtained that was sent to the Academy by Martin M. Bandier, the influential chairman of Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Like Broughton, he also is calling for changes in the Best Song category, but he specifically has a beef with the rule that doesn’t provide for another nominee to replace one that might be nixed, as happened this year. There certainly were other songs that warranted inclusion, and the one that I thought the category missed most was Lana Del Rey’s haunting “Young and Beautiful,” which added so much to the courtship seen between Gatsby and Daisy in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. There were others, too. Bandier sent the letter to AMPAS chief Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and it won’t be surprising if she spend some energy looking hard at this, but it seemed relevant enough right now to air it here. Read the letter below:
OSCARS SCANDAL: ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ Writer Calls Out Academy President For What He Says Is “Breach Of The Same Standard”
Bruce Broughton is hitting back. The composer, whose title song from Alone Yet Not Alone received an Oscar nom but later was disqualified because of improper campaigning, penned a letter Thursday to Academy Director of Communications Teni Melidonian and CEO Dawn Hudson. And today — hours after the Academy issued its latest statement on the matter — Broughton’s PR guy Ray Costa made it an open letter.
Broughton calls attention to Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs‘ role as a head of CBI Enterprises. As stated in her bio on the Oscars website, which was part of the press release the Academy sent out announcing her election in July, she served as a consultant on films including eventual Best Picture winners The Artist and The King’s Speech.
Safe to say this probably won’t be the last we hear of this.
Here’s the full letter:
Wonder why the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to take the unusual step on a Super Bowl Saturday to “clarify” its decision Wednesday to rescind the Best Song nomination of the controversial Alone Yet Not Alone from the yet-to-be-released (now they are saying early summer) faith-based movie of the same name? Since the decision was announced, there has been blowback regarding the true intent of the Academy’s decision — particularly in a letter to Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs from Oscar-winning producer Gerald Molen (Schindler’s List) who was also an executive producer of the controversial documentary 2016: Obama’s America, a high-grossing documentary that became a lightning rod in the last Presidential campaign and a darling of right-wing critics of President Obama.
In the letter, Molen accuses the Academy of bias: “Many will see this decision as faith-based bigotry pure and simple,” he wrote in defending songwriter Bruce Broughton‘s right to the kind of grass roots campaign he conducted in order to get the unknown film a nomination against stiff competition from the likes of Taylor Swift, Coldplay and Lana Del Rey — none of whom made the cut. In order to stem further bleeding — particularly in becoming a target of right-wing blogs — I believe the Academy decided to curb any further damage or controversy the decision seems to be causing. In today’s detailed statement (read it below) it even gets very specific and states that Broughton sent “at least 70″ emails to fellow Music Branch members (the entire branch numbers 240). AMPAS explains that coming from a former governor and current member of the Branch’s Executive Committee, he could be rightly suspected of taking advantage of his insider status in gaming the system (my term, not the Academy’s). The original statement Wednesday was much more polite in using the phrase “no matter how well intentioned” Broughton’s efforts might have been. This letter today is far more damning and much more specific in explaining Academy rules. There has been no indication the Academy plans to take any further action on the matter, but it certainly isn’t bowing down to critics who are saying it made a mistake in deep-sixing the song. Here’s today’s statement:
Former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak died today of complications due to a long battle with prostate cancer. The studio marketing, distribution and production executive whose Hollywood career spanned five decades was 68. President of the Academy from 2009-12, Sherak also was a champion of the Southern California Multiple Sclerosis Society, helping to raise about $40 million for the organization’s research and programs during the past 20 years — his charity work meant more to him than any of his business endeavors. Sherak died at his home in Calabasas, CA, surrounded by family and friends.
Related: Hollywood Remembers Tom Sherak
His family has released a statement this afternoon: “To the entertainment community: With broken hearts we want to share with you the news that Tom Sherak passed away today after a long 12 year battle with prostate cancer. He died at home surrounded by his family giving him hugs, kisses, and love. Tom is, was, and always will be, our loving husband, daddy, papa, brother, friend, and “Go to Guy.” He blessed this earth for 68 incredible years, and he will be missed every single day. Tom lived his life as an open book. He opened his heart and let the world in, and anyone who was lucky enough to know him knew first hand the power of his love. He gave everything he had to help others, regardless of whether or not he knew them. Tom is a true hero in our lives who has a star on the sidewalk and wings to fly. We love him so very much.”
In September, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Sherak as the city’s first film czar. Taking a $1 salary, he was tasked with putting together a plan to halt runaway production and increase the shooting of films and TV shows in Hollywood’s backyard. Along with his growing team at the city’s Entertainment Industry and Production office, he had brought aboard former MPAA President Bob Pisano as an unofficial “consigliere” and tapped former Time Warner exec Rajiv Dalal as his deputy. “In just a few short months, Tom laid a policy foundation that my Administration will stand on for the next four years,” Garcetti said tonight. “Tom’s work will continue through my office and the many charities to which he devoted so much of himself. Tom was a public servant in the truest sense long before he joined my administration. He will be deeply missed.”
In October, during his first civic event since being named film czar, today said he intended to have a plan to increase production in the city around the beginning of 2014. Sherak and his team were working on that plan when his health took a turn for the worse, though he told our Pete Hammond after his job was announced that his public battle with cancer was not an issue. “I am going through all kinds of stuff with my body, and somebody once said don’t make a decision when your body’s going one way and your head’s going another way,” he said at the time. “I took another couple of days and said I wanted to meet with the mayor. … I told him when it was all done to let me go home and talk to (my wife). I did, and she said, ‘Take it.’ I next called my oncologist, and he said, ‘Tom, take it; you’re going to be fine.’ And that’s what happened.”
Sherak began his career at Paramount in 1970 in distribution, and after a stint as head film buyer at General Cinema, he worked at 20th Century Fox in various capacities in the 1980s. That’s where he began to put his stamp on some of the biggest movies of that decade, first as President of Domestic Distribution and Marketing, then Senior EVP of 20th Century Fox, and eventually Chairman of 20th Century Fox Domestic Film Group. He oversaw such titles as Romancing The Stone, Commando, Aliens, The Fly, Broadcast News, Predator, Wall Street, three Die Hard movies, Working Girl, The War Of The Roses, Home Alone, Edward Scissorhands, the Star Wars trilogy special edition, Mrs. Doubtfire, True Lies, Speed, Independence Day and Star Wars: Episode I –The Phantom Menace. Afterward he became a partner with Joe Roth in Revolution Studios, which released more than 30 movies during its seven-year run including Black Hawk Down, Rent, Click and Rocky Balboa. After serving at treasurer at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Sherak was elected president in 2009 and served three one-year terms.
He also had been a consultant that worked all over Hollywood, including for Marvel Studios on its superhero pics including Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Thor; for Relativity Media; and Skydance Productions. Most recently he had an office on the Paramount lot and helped the studio work with the MPAA on ratings negotiations for Best Picture Oscar nominee The Wolf Of Wall Street.
OSCARS: Academy Finalizes ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’ Producers Credits – Leo And Marty Back In, Riza Aziz Out
In a rare move since the Producers Guild has been vetting eligible producers for the Oscars, the Producers Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has taken a different path than the PGA recommendation and awarded director Martin Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio additional Oscar nominations as producers of the film along with Emma Tillinger Koskoff (Scorsese’s partner) and Red Granite’s Joey McFarland. The latter two had been nominees for the PGA Award along with McFarland’s partner at Red Granite Riza Aziz. As previously reported on Deadline, Scorsese and DiCaprio were denied nominations by the PGA. Now the tables have been turned somewhat and it is Aziz who is odd man out and Scorsese and DiCaprio back in. DiCaprio, in his capacity as a producer, has worked for six years to bring it to the screen and got Red Granite — which fully financed the $100 million film — involved. Aziz won’t be contesting the Academy’s decision and Red Granite just released a statement to Deadline: “We are thrilled that the Academy has recognized the invaluable contributions of Marty, Leo, Joey and Emma on behalf of The Wolf Of Wall Street. Riza Aziz and Red Granite remain honored to be part of the production.”
BEVERLY HILLS, CA — The Academy is now accepting applications for its 2014 Student Academy Awards competition. Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal awards, along with cash prizes, may be presented to student filmmakers in the following categories: Alternative, Animation, Narrative, Documentary and Foreign Film. The U.S. competition is open to all full-time college and university students at accredited institutions, whose films are made within the curricular structure of a film program or class at their respective schools. U.S. entries must be submitted by Tuesday, April 1, 2014. The rules and online application forms are available at www.oscars.org/saa. The 41st Annual Student Academy Awards presentation will be held in June at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
OK Oscar voters, the pressure is on. Ballots are in the mail — or should we say email – as of today, and the Academy has been bending over backwards to make sure everything is going to go smoothly this year after a well-documented bumpy inaugural ride with electronic voting last season. You all got that email from Academy CEO Dawn Hudson a couple of months ago which detailed the streamlined system so hopefully problems will be minimal. And if you choose not to register online, the Academy will make sure you get a paper ballot. So you can even ignore all the Academy’s missives and forget to register and you will still be taken care of — the old fashioned way. But obviously AMPAS is hoping you will join the 21st century and go online.
I have confidence it will all work out and members who kvetched last year will be in hog heaven this time around. The bigger problem is just trying to see all those movies you need to catch up with before ballots are due back by 5 PM on January 8th. And an informal poll I have taken in the last couple of weeks indicates many members have yet to see a whole lot. Studios have been working overtime to get the potential 6,028 eligible voters (dues-paying voters, that is) into screenings — even luring them as usual with parties, lunches, dinners and loads of Q&As where they can get up close and personal with the contenders. And we also know they all have a stockpile of screeners at home or the office from the first one sent out – Mud – to the last – The Wolf Of Wall Street — and maybe even a couple of other strays will arrive before it’s all done.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has unveiled a new logo for the Oscars organization — it’s now prominent on Oscars.org and “puts the Academy into its own logo from which it’s been absent since the inception of the organization”, according to marketing boss Christina Kounelias in an intro video (see it below). The logo comes complete with its own webpage that shows design firm’s 180LA’s inspiration for the update. So is it the new “design system” a creative revelation or as one Deadline staffer suggests a variation on the Federation logo from Star Trek?