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Five Scripts Share 2013 Nicholl Screenwriting Prize

Related: Academy Unveils 2013 Nicholl Finalists

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Four individual writers and one writing team have been selected as winners of the 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition. Each winner will receive a $35,000 prize, the first installment of which will be distributed at an awards presentation on Thursday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. For the first time, the event will also feature a live read of selected scenes from the fellows’ winning scripts.

This year’s winners are (listed alphabetically by author):
Frank DeJohn & David Alton Hedges, Santa Ynez, CA, “Legion”
Patty Jones, Vancouver, BC, Canada, “Joe Banks”
Alan Roth, Suffern, NY, “Jersey City Story”
Stephanie Shannon, Los Angeles, CA, “Queen of Hearts”
Barbara Stepansky, Burbank, CA, “Sugar in My Veins”

The winners were selected from a record 7,251 scripts submitted for this year’s competition.

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Movie Academy Adds Three Casting Directors To Board Of Governors

By | Monday October 7, 2013 @ 9:53am PDT

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Three members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ newly created Casting Directors Branch have been elected to the Academy Board of Governors.

The first-time governors are David Rubin, who is elected to a three-year term; Bernie Telsey, who is elected to a two-year term; and Lora Kennedy, who is elected to a one-year term.

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Movie Academy Unveils 2013 Nicholl Screenwriting Finalists

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Nine individual screenwriters and one writing team have been selected as finalists for the 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition. Their scripts will now be read and judged by the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, which may award as many as five of the prestigious $35,000 fellowships.

This year’s finalists are (listed alphabetically by author):
Scott Adams, Menlo Park, CA, “Slingshot”
William Casey, Los Angeles, CA, “Smut”
Frank DeJohn & David Alton Hedges, Santa Ynez, CA, “Legion”
Brian Forrester, Studio City, CA, “Heart of the Monstyr”
Noah Thomas Grossman, Los Angeles, CA, “The Cupid Code”
Patty Jones, Vancouver, BC, Canada, “Joe Banks”
Erin KLG, New York, NY, “Lost Children”
Alan Roth, Suffern, NY, “Jersey City Story”
Stephanie Shannon, Los Angeles, CA, “Queen of Hearts”
Barbara Stepansky, Burbank, CA, “Sugar in My Veins”

The finalists were selected from a record 7,251 scripts submitted for this year’s competition.

The 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships will be presented on Thursday, November 7, at a ceremony in Beverly Hills.

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Ric Robertson Memo On Academy Exit

By | Friday September 6, 2013 @ 3:51pm PDT

Dear Friends,

After almost 32 years with the Academy, I’ve decided to step down from my position as COO.

I’m going to continue my relationship with the Academy, however, as a consultant focusing on the show, award rules and categories. I’m excited to be on these projects in addition to serving as a resource to our new president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson, and you, the Academy staff.

I arrived at this decision with considerable deliberation and, as many of you know, after a three-month hiatus. The summer off was fantastic; it gave me time to travel, relax and try to find CBS on my television. It also gave me the opportunity to think about how I can more fully realize my goals. This is just the first step on that path.

I’m grateful to have worked with you and look forward to continuing to do so, albeit in a different capacity. Thank you for your support of the Academy and for the kindness you’ve shown me personally.



Academy CEO Dawn Hudson On Ric Robertson Departure
Ric Robertson Exits As Movie Academy COO

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Academy Unveils 2013 Governors Awards: Honorees Angelina Jolie, Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin, Piero Tosi

Related: Hammond: Big Names, Deserving Recipients For Governors Awards

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present Honorary Awards to Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin and Piero Tosi, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Angelina Jolie. All four awards will be presented at the Academy’s 5th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 16, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center®.

“The Governors Awards pay tribute to individuals who’ve made indelible contributions in their respective fields,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “We couldn’t be more excited for this year’s honorees and look forward to bringing their peers and colleagues together to celebrate their extraordinary achievements.”

Lansbury has received three Academy Award® nominations for her supporting performances on film – the first in her 1944 feature debut in “Gaslight,” followed by “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1945) and “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962). Her numerous other credits include “The Long, Hot Summer,” “Blue Hawaii,” “The World of Henry Orient,” “Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” “Death on the Nile” and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” as well as voice work for the first animated feature to receive a Best Picture nomination, “Beauty and the Beast.”

Martin, who got his start in television, is a versatile actor, writer, comedian and musician who began to display the breadth of his big-screen talent as the screenwriter and star of the 1977 Oscar®-nominated short film “The Absent-Minded Waiter.” He wrote and starred in “The Jerk,” “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” “Three Amigos,” “Roxanne,” “L.A. Story,” “The Pink Panther” series and “Shopgirl,” which he adapted from his critically acclaimed book of the same name. His other acting credits include “All of Me,” “Parenthood,” “Father of the Bride” and “It’s Complicated.” He also is a three-time host of the Oscars®, most recently in 2010 with Alec Baldwin.

Tosi rose to prominence through his collaborations with Italian director Luchino Visconti on such films as “White Nights” and “Rocco and His Brothers,” and continued to work with him on several other features, including the Costume Design nominees “The Leopard,” “Death in Venice” and “Ludwig.” Tosi received two more nominations for his designs for “La Cage aux Folles” and “La Traviata.” His other notable credits include “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” a Foreign Language Film winner, and “Marriage Italian Style,” a Foreign Language Film nominee, both directed by Vittorio De Sica.

Jolie, who won an Oscar for her supporting performance in “Girl, Interrupted,” has been an impassioned advocate for humanitarian causes, traveling widely to promote organizations and social justice efforts such as the Prevent Sexual Violence Initiative. Staking out a career at the nexus of entertainment and philanthropy, Jolie has worked for a number of global advocacy groups including the Council on Foreign Relations and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for which she was appointed Special Envoy of High Commissioner António Guterres in 2012 after twelve years of service. Her dedication to these causes has also shaped her work in films that tackle global humanitarian issues including “A Mighty Heart” and her feature film directorial debut “In the Land of Blood and Honey.”

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Ellen DeGeneres To Host 86th Oscars

By | Friday August 2, 2013 @ 8:13am PDT
Pete Hammond

UPDATED: Ellen DeGeneres just tweeted she will be hosting the Oscars this year. It will be her second stint in the job, after hosting the 2007 ceremony and earning an Emmy nomination for it. “It’s official: I’m hosting the #Oscars! I’d like to thank @TheAcademy, my wife Portia and, oh dear, there goes the orchestra“, the comedian and talk show host said on her Twitter feed just now.

The announcement of DeGeneres as host comes just a couple of days after the election of Cheryl Boone Isaacs, only the third woman to head the Academy in its 86-year history. There are also now 14 women elected to the Board Of Governors, a record number, and a woman –  Dawn Hudson — serves as CEO, so it seems appropiate with the well-publicized efforts to bring diversity in all its forms that a woman should return to host the show. DeGeneres would seem the perfect — and safe — choice to host this year particularly after Seth MacFarlane’s controversial stint for the 85th Oscars, which drew strong ratings but also some criticism especially for his satirical musical number “We Saw Your Boobs” which some saw as offensive to women.

When she first hosted in 2007 it was noted that DeGeneres also became the first openly gay or lesbian host. During the telecast she actually talked about diversity. “What a wonderful night, such diversity in the room, in a year when there’s been so many negative things said about people’s race, religion, and sexual orientation. And I want to put it out there: If there weren’t blacks, Jews and gays, there would be no Oscars, or anyone named Oscar, when you think about that,” she joked.

Related: Look Back: Ellen DeGeneres’ 2007 Oscar Monologue

Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron said they are longtime friends with the star and have been looking for a way to work with her. They obviously found one and kept the news under wraps until the new President was chosen. When I interviewed Boone Isaacs on Wednesday and asked her if she had ideas about the host or when it would be announced, she said she would be meeting with Zadan and Meron later that day to discuss it and their ideas for the show but at that point had no idea what the producers had in store. Things obviously happened quickly after that and the Academy moved to get the announcement out even as DeGeneres is on vacation according to one source I spoke with inside the Academy. “I agreed with Craig and Neil immediately that Ellen is the ideal host for this year’s show,” said Boone Isaacs in the Academy’s official release issued a few minutes after Ellen first tweeted the news.

Of course DeGeneres, a double-digit Emmy winner, was also nominated for an Emmy for her Oscar-hosting stint in the now-defunct category of Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program. She also famously hosted the Emmys in November 2001 after the show was canceled twice in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. She returned to host the Emmys in 2005, just three weeks after Hurricane Katrina. She also hosted the Grammys  in 1996 and 1997.

Here’s the Academy’s official release: Read More »

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Movie Academy OKs Casting Directors Branch

By | Wednesday July 31, 2013 @ 11:49am PDT

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced the creation of the Casting Directors Branch. Casting directors began to be invited to Academy membership more than 30 years ago, many of them admitted as Members-at-Large. The decision was approved at the regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, July 30. “Casting directors play an essential role in the filmmaking process,” Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said. “Their inclusion on our board will only broaden our perspective and help ensure that the Academy continues to accurately reflect the state of filmmaking today.” The Casting Directors Branch brings the Academy to 17 branches, with three members representing each branch on the Board of Governors. The Academy will hold special elections this fall to select the three governors of the newest branch.

Related: Cheryl Boone Isaacs Elected APMAS President

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OSCARS: Academy Invites 276 To Join

By | Friday June 28, 2013 @ 11:15am PDT

Analysis: Did The Academy Just Get A Lot More Diverse?

Academy Membership Quotas Dissolved: Does It Mean Anything?

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 276 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 2013. “These individuals are among the best filmmakers working in the industry today,” said Academy President Hawk Koch. “Their talent and creativity have captured the imagination of audiences worldwide, and I am proud to welcome each of them to the Academy.”

The 2013 invitees are:

Jason Bateman – “Up in the Air,” “Juno”
Miriam Colon – “City of Hope,” “Scarface”
Rosario Dawson – “Rent,” “Frank Miller’s Sin City”
Kimberly Elise – “For Colored Girls,” “Beloved”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – “Lincoln,” “The Dark Knight Rises”
Charles Grodin – “Midnight Run,” “The Heartbreak Kid”
Rebecca Hall – “Iron Man 3,” “The Town”
Lance Henriksen – “Aliens,” “The Terminator”
Jack Huston – “Not Fade Away,” “Factory Girl”
Milla Jovovich – “Resident Evil,” “Chaplin”
Lucy Liu – “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” “Chicago”
Jennifer Lopez – “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” “Selena”
Alma Martinez – “Born in East L.A.,” “Under Fire”
Emily Mortimer – “Hugo,” “Lars and the Real Girl”
Sandra Oh – “Rabbit Hole,” “Sideways”
Paula Patton – “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Michael Peña – “End of Watch,” “Crash”
Emmanuelle Riva – “Amour,” “Hiroshima, Mon Amour”
Jason Schwartzman – “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Rushmore”
Geno Silva – “Mulholland Drive,” “Amistad”
Danny Trejo – “Machete,” “Heat”
Chris Tucker – “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Rush Hour”

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Clark Gregg, Jason Schwartzman, Quvenzhané Wallis & Kimberly Peirce To Present 2013 Student Academy Awards

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Actors Clark Gregg, Jason Schwartzman and Quvenzhané Wallis and director Kimberly Peirce have been tapped to present at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 40th Student Academy Awards on Saturday, June 8, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Hosted by 1978 Student Academy Award® winner Bob Saget, the awards ceremony is the culmination of a week of industry activities that the Academy is hosting for the 16 student filmmakers from the U.S. and abroad who have been selected as winners this year.

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Oscars Outdoors 2013 Summer Lineup

By | Wednesday May 15, 2013 @ 2:45pm PDT

After a successful launch last year, the 2013 Oscars Outdoors summer movie season kicks off Wednesday, June 5, with Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. Stars Amy Acker, Alexis Denisoff, Clark Gregg, Nathan Fillion, Fran Kranz and Sean Maher will be there and join Whedon for a post-screening Q&A moderated by KCRW’s Matt Holzman. The lineup, which runs through August 24th, also includes such classics as Big, Rushmore and Cinema Paradiso. Screenings will take place at the Academy’s open-air theater in Hollywood. Morgan Neville’s music docu Twenty Feet From Stardom will screen on June 6 in Hollywood and June 8 in partnership with Rooftop Films Series in New York City, ahead of its June 14 release. And Academy Nicholl Screenwriting Fellow Destin Cretton’s Short Term 12 is also slated for an advance screening on July 20 in New York City. Click over for the complete 2013 Oscars Outdoors schedule: Read More »

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Movie Academy Membership Quotas Dissolved: But Does It Mean Anything?

By | Friday April 26, 2013 @ 7:45pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Media reports swirled this afternoon that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is dissolving a rule in place since 2004 that created quotas to keep membership to minimum numbers and the eligible voting body to 5800-6000 members. Sources within the Academy have confirmed this to Deadline, but noted it really is old news since this change was voted by the Board Of Governors in October. The source also called it “non-news” because any changes that might come about because of it are still a work in progress. Conceivably, without the limit on new members in each of the 15 branches affected, these branches could open the floodgates and admit more members than ever before. But that is not likely to happen based on conversations I have had today with Acad insiders, including those most affected by the relaxation of rules.

An Academy source told me the change was enacted in October in order to be more “inclusive” and pave a path for admittance to industry members who have an impressive body of work but for whatever reason have not been granted membership. It’s a way to “open the ranks”, I am told, but it was also emphasized that it in no way will lessen the existing professional criteria that has always applied in bringing in new members. This rule change is just the first part of a process that will accelerate in May, when each branch meets to determine which new members of those who have applied will be granted entry into this most exclusive club; the application process closed several weeks ago, and there can be no more new applications for 2013 beyond those already processed. The recommendations will then go to the general membership committee and then to the Board for final approval. The Academy expects to release a list of those accepted for membership by mid-June, I am told. Last year, 176 members were admitted, and that number is fairly close to the norm for the past decade. Read More »

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Academy’s Nicholl Script Contest Deadlines

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Deadlines to submit entries to the 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition are Wednesday, April 10 (regular deadline) and Wednesday, May 1 (final deadline). As many as five $35,000 fellowships will be awarded in November.

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships competition is open to any individual who has not earned a total of more than $25,000 from the sale or option of screenplays or teleplays. This amount for 2013 is an increase from the $5,000 limit in previous years. To enter, writers must submit a completed application online, upload one PDF copy of their original screenplay in English and pay the appropriate entry fee before the deadline. The entry fee is $50 through 11:59 p.m. PT on April 10, and $65 through 11:59 p.m. PT on May 1.

For online applications, rules and other details, visit

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Battered And Broken Oscar Sells For More Than $100K At Auction

Pete Hammond

They say you can’t “buy” an Oscar, but that would be a lie. As they do every year, the studios just spent millions in pursuit of them, and Hollywood’s elite seem to covet them more than their first-born. But exactly how much is an Oscar worth? If Tuesday’s latest Nate D. Sanders auction is any indication, it’s a lot.

Screenwriter Charles MacArthur’s 1935 “Academy First Award”, won at the 8th Annual Academy Awards for Best Story for The Scoundrel, sold today for $106,231 While not anywhere near a record for an Oscar statuette, it’s pretty remarkable considering this one was tarnished and had a cracked head and base as well as visible repair done to a break at the ankles. This ‘ol Oscar clearly had weathered a few storms since being presented to MacArthur (he shared the credit with Ben Hecht) on March 5, 1936. The fact it did not come for a major classic film or wildly famous recipient makes the sale even more impressive.

In case any more recent winners are looking to make a fast buck for their Oscar, be warned that a sale like this for any Oscar post-1950 is completely illegal. That is when the Academy started making winners sign an agreement that they or their heirs could not sell their Oscar without first offering it back to the Academy for the paltry sum of $1. Of course, this hasn’t stopped the practice even for those statuettes, and it has been estimated that at least 200 Oscars have been sold in the past and I would guess that a great number of them are post-1950. With this kind of black market in Oscar statuettes, it is obvious that not everyone with the coveted gold man on their mantel actually won it — or was at least related to a winner. But while the Academy may frown, the business of buying and selling Oscars, even as damaged as MacArthur’s, is still a very big one. Read More »

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2013 Academy Nicholl Screenwriting Competition Underway

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is now accepting entries for the 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition. As many as five $35,000 fellowships will be awarded in November.

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Academy Made $51.2M On Oscars Last Year

By | Thursday January 24, 2013 @ 2:29pm PST

That tidbit of information came from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences‘ latest financial report, which includes data for the fiscal year that ended in June 2012. The operating profit of $51.2M was a 2.6% increase over 2011. The Oscars are by far the biggest source of fresh cash for the Academy; the event produced $89.6M in revenue, and cost the group $38.3M. The Academy says that ABC has the broadcast rights for the Oscars through 2020. Despite the event’s financial success, a decline in the Academy’s investment income and increased costs for its various activities resulted in just a $10.4M gain in its net assets, to $299.5M, for the fiscal year that ended in June. By contrast, in 2011 it gained $30.5M to end up with $289.1M. It also said it spent $4.9 million last year on development of its new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures; in October, the organization said it had raised $100 million of a targeted $250 million capital fundraising campaign for the project aimed to open in 2016. The report did not break out costs related to the group’s newly installed Oscar online voting system, which is in its first year of use.

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Film Academy To Bestow Service Award On VFX Veteran Bill Taylor

By | Tuesday January 8, 2013 @ 3:00pm PST

Bill Taylor, a longtime visual effects supervisor and director of photography, has been voted to receive the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation from the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The award, for service and dedication in upholding the high standards of the Academy, will be presented at the annual Sci-Tech awards on February 9 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Taylor, a founding co-chair of the Science and Technology Council and an Academy member since 1972, is the co-founder of Illusion Arts, where he worked on the visual effects of more than 200 films including Lawless, Public Enemies, Milk and Bruce Almighty. He earned a Technical Achievement Award in 1981 for the concept and specifications for a Two-Format, Rotating Head, Aerial Image Optical Printer.

Related: Nine Sci-Tech Award Winners Unveiled

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OSCARS: Glitches In Early Online Voting

By | Tuesday December 18, 2012 @ 2:42pm PST
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: I got an explanation on the temporary glitch in online voting from Michael Shamberg, the Django Unchained producer who’s a long time Academy member and who encountered some problems but came away satisfied that the new system will work. Said Shamberg: “I had a good experience with the online voting. Even though I had a technical problem, the Academy tech support called me hourly until it was fixed. There are multiple levels of security that are designed to keep it from being hacked and they got the bugs out right away.”

EARLIER: Monday was the first day that the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiled its new electronic voting system for the Oscars, and today didn’t exactly go off without a hitch. I figured the big problem would be getting older voters (some are over 100) to warm up to using the world wide web. But the big problem today occurred when the system temporarily went on the fritz and voters couldn’t log in. I’m not sure if there was an avalanche of attempts to vote, but I’m told that the system wasn’t working for much of the day today, one frustrated Academy member told me. The member added that the support center, whose number was included with the ballot instructions, wasn’t sure when things would be back online. That finally happened about two hours ago, when this memo was sent out:

Thank you

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Academy Pitches Oscarcast Roles For Film Students With Contest

By | Friday November 30, 2012 @ 11:11am PST

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been trying to draw younger eyeballs to its Oscar telecast for years. Here’s the latest way to entice them to tune in: make them part of the show. The Academy and mtvU announced today they are partnering for “The Oscar Experience College Search”, whereby college students interested in pursuing careers in film will compete for an opportunity to appear live onstage to deliver Oscar statuettes to telecast presenters during the 85th Academy Awards ceremony February 24 on ABC. Oscar host Seth MacFarlane announced the program as a guest professor on college network mtvU’s series Stand In, taking over a film class at UCLA for an episode that will premiere December 10. The contest runs through January 19 and students can apply through the Academy’s Facebook page.

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Academy Sues Duo Over Oscar Sale

By | Tuesday November 20, 2012 @ 11:03am PST

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has sued two men for copyright infringement related to an allegedly sold and destroyed Oscar. The complaint (read it here) says that John Dunne sold Edgard Francisco “an ©”Oscar”® statuette that was either a genuine statuette lost to theft or a very convincing counterfeit.” Dunne sold the contested Oscar to Francisco for $25,000. When the buyer determined soon afterwards that the statuette was a fake, he tossed it and got a $15,000 refund from the seller. In requesting a jury trial, the Academy, who filed its action in Seattle, says Dunne’s “unfair and deceptive act has caused the Academy damages in an amount to be determined at trial.” Those damages could range from $25,000 to over $75,000 based on what the value of the statuette could be assessed, fake and real. They are also seeking legal costs and lawyer’s fees. The Academy claims the statuette was or purported to be the Oscar that Aaron Rochin won in 1979 for his sound work on The Deer Hunter. Rochin returned the Oscar for a new one because it was “blemished.” The returned one went missing and has never been accounted for. And still isn’t — because Francisco destroyed it.
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