OSCARS: Will Critics & Precursor Awards Carry More Weight In A Jam-Packed Year?

By | Wednesday January 1, 2014 @ 11:25am PST
Pete Hammond

The volume of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters who’ve admitted they’ve barely AwardsLine.LogoBWseen any films so close to ballot opening on December 27 is surprising. One Oscar-winning member of the actors branch, who has been working nonstop, actually revealed she has seen nothing except her own film. This is after studios have spent millions of dollars sending out DVD screeners, conducting special screenings and Q&As, and booking their contenders on every talk show and morning show in existence, all in an effort oscarto get the attention of those 6,028 members who must select their nominees by January 8. One Oscar-nominated writer-director has only seen Nebraska and a couple of other films but had recently broken up with his girlfriend and didn’t want to watch his screeners alone. “My son did tell me 12 Years A Slave was the best movie he saw all year, so I will try to see that one,” he says. To be fair, I also spoke to numerous Academy members who were trying to keep up with the films, but—as one busy voter confessed— didn’t want to rely solely on screeners, which makes it all the more difficult to find time to see everything. “I really don’t want to watch these things on my television set. I want to go to a theater,” the voter says.

Related: OSCARS: Ballots Are Out And The Race Is On
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OSCARS: Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs Reflects And Looks Ahead With Focus On Education And Diversity

David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor.

Papal elections have nothing on the secrecy surrounding the selection of presidents for the Academy ofAwardsLine.LogoBW Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The absence of white smoke notwithstanding, what goes on behind those closed doors? But the elevation of Cheryl Boone Isaacs to the Academy’s top spot in July has generated only acclamation. There are two important reasons for this: With decades in the industry and years of devoted service to AMPAS, Boone Isaacs is well qualified to lead the Academy as it faces new challenges. And because she is both African-American and a woman, she is a uniquely visible symbol of the organization’s stated commitment to diversity.

CherylBooneIsaacs__130730213740“It feels great, absolutely wonderful,” Boone Isaacs says about her election, sitting outside the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy’s headquarters in Beverly Hills. “I’ve been involved here for a long time. This is a terrific organization, which is constantly changing and evolving. I’ve loved movies my whole life—as have most of us in this business.”

Though it’s still early into her presidency, Boone Isaacs already is focused on increasing member engagement and expanding the Academy’s youth education initiatives. “Young folks know actors, but they don’t really understand the collaboration and community it takes to produce a motion picture—and the job opportunities there are. It also helps them see movies in a different way—appreciating the collaboration and what it takes to achieve the look and sound of a film,” she explains. Read More »

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Academy Partners With Dubai Film Festival

The Dubai International Film Festival is celebrating its 10th edition next month, and is upping its profile this year via a new partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. A delegation from the … Read More »

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OSCARS: Rule Changes Could Affect Foreign-Language And Animation Races

Pete Hammond

Although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is constantly reviewing their rules and regulations, the changes are usually minor. But this year one major change regarding the foreign-language category could cause a few tremors in that race: For the first time, the entire Academy will vote on the winner.

Related: OSCARS: Controversial Foreign Language Race Begins

The nominating process to select five foreign-language contenders from the 70-some entries from individual countries remains the same. But in the past, only members who had proven they had seen all five nominees in a theater were able to vote. Now everyone gets to vote without proving they’ve seen the films, just like the rest of the major categories.

But will this change the dynamics of the race, perhaps favoring higher-profile titles? Last year, Austria’s acclaimed Amour won the foreign-language Oscar the old-fashioned way. Had the new rules been in effect, it almost certainly would have won anyway because it was the rare foreign-language entry that also received a best picture nomination. Would lesser-known winners such as Argentina’s The Secret In Their Eyes (2009) or Japan’s Departures (2008) have reigned in an unsupervised Academy-wide vote against better-known nominees? Read More »

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Jeffrey Katzenberg & Steven Spielberg Donate $10M Each To Academy Museum

The donation by the DreamWorks Animation CEO and the Oscar-winning director to the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will see the main lobbies of the facility named after their families. Here’s the Academy‘s release about the gift from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg:

Beverly Hills,

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AMPAS Scores Boost In Domain Name Case Against GoDaddy

By | Monday November 11, 2013 @ 10:23am PST

The cybersquatting case is far from over but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences moved one big step closer to domain domination over GoDaddy last week. Federal judge Audrey Collins ordered on November … Read More »

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OSCARS: Academy Launches “Upgraded And Simplified” Online Voting System

By | Friday October 25, 2013 @ 2:13pm PDT
Pete Hammond

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ran into some well-publicized growing pains in launching the first year of online voting for Oscars last year. It has taken internal complaints and problems into consideration and now is making key changes to the system that confused many members and resulted in a shaky launch. An email is going out today and Monday (read it below) will tell members to register online for what has been described as an “upgraded and simplified” system. Immediate registration will be possible after a member pays their annual dues — which also can be done online. The Academy is urging members to consider using the online option when voting this year although for those who would rather stick with the old-fashioned method a paper ballot will still be available. The Academy though really plans on selling the online option, and believes the long-gestating switch and the attendant publicity resulted in what its says was the highest voter turnout ever last season.

I am told the Academy believes it has fixed the key components of the system that caused so many problems — and have done it without compromising security, a major factor in any overhaul. The key update is there will now be only one user name and one password required for the entire season both for membership and voting purposes. Previously, there were separate passwords members had to use and a more complicated system of checks and balances.  ow voters also won’t have to keep re-entering VIN numbers, and should the need come to change their password it will be done with an immediate prompt online with no need to contact the support system, which is something many members had to do often last year after throwing up their hands in frustration. The site has also been designed graphically for much easier navigation.

Will this answer all the complaints we heard from confused Academy members last year? Time will tell, but I am told the Academy believes it has really streamlined things, and hope and expect most members to embrace online voting in its sophomore season. It all begins again now, folks.

Here’s that letter going out to members: Read More »

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OSCARS: 76 Countries Competing In Foreign Language Film Category

By | Monday October 7, 2013 @ 11:07am PDT

Related: OSCARS: Foreign Language Race Begins But “Radical” Changes On Horizon

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – A record 76 countries have submitted films for consideration in the Foreign Language Film category for the 86th Academy Awards®. Moldova and Saudi Arabia are first-time entrants; Montenegro is submitting for the first time as an independent country.

The 2013 submissions are:

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AMPAS Receives $20M From Dalian Wanda Group For Academy Museum

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that it has received a $20 million gift from the Dalian Wanda Group for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The gift was

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Paula Wagner To Produce 2013 Governors Awards

By | Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 10:25am PDT

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Paula Wagner will produce the 5th Annual Governors Awards for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced today. The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and three Honorary Awards will be presented to Angelina Jolie, Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin and Piero Tosi, respectively, on Saturday, November 16, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center®.

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Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond, Episode 38

Pete Hammond

Listen to (and share) episode 38 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about whether Lovelace can do for VOD movies what House Of Cards did for VOD TV; the below-the-line boost that may have put Cheryl Boone Isaacs at the top of the Motion Picture Academy; what to expect from Ellen DeGeneres as the Oscar host; and the latest Emmy chat as final-round voting gets underway. Pete also gives his take on the week’s movie debuts, including Neil Blomkamp’s thinking man’s sci-fi film Elysium, Pixar’s animated sort-of sequel Planes, and young-adult book adaptation Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.

Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 38, (MP3 format)
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Jasmine Madatian To Leave Academy Communications Post; Relaunching Own Consulting Company

By | Tuesday August 6, 2013 @ 1:11pm PDT
Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: I have learned veteran publicist Jasmine Madatian, head of communications for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences since June of 2012, has decided to leave the full-time post and return to her own consulting firm, AshTam. However, despite departing her Academy job, she will still have some involvement with the upcoming Oscarcast scheduled for March 2nd. She plans to work independently with Oscar show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, focusing on the campaign for the broadcast. The trio worked closely together on the most recent Academy Award show in her official capacity at the Academy and sources tell me Madatian and the returning producers wanted to continue the relationship. Read More »

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Academy Blurs The ‘Line’ In This Week’s Historic Election Of Cheryl Boone Isaacs

Pete Hammond

“Below-the-line” trumping “above-the-line”? Was that the real story behind the story in this week’s historic election of Cheryl Boone Isaacs as President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the first African American and only … Read More »

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How The Academy Nabbed Ellen – Tweet By Tweet

Oscar producer Neil Meron took to Twitter today to break down how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences went about securing Ellen DeGeneres to host the 86th Oscars. It’s the appropriate venue since they used … Read More »

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New Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs: “We Are Moving Forward And Evolving” – First Interview

Pete Hammond

In the end it probably was not too surprising that Cheryl Boone Isaacs was elected President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences at last night’s Board of Governors meeting. As I pointed out in my election preview last week, she is the only one in Academy history to have served in every elected office the Academy has – VP, Treasurer, Secretary, Academy Foundation President, First Vice President most recently, and even produced last year’s Governors Awards. That the Board essentially elevated her up one notch to President after her 21 years of service seems a natural. Then again it doesn’t always go down the “natural” way in show business.

Related: Cheryl Boone Isaacs Elected Academy President

But of course her election is historic for another reason. She becomes only the third woman (after Fay Kanin and a combative two-week stint in 1941 for Bette Davis) and first African-American to become Academy President. Much is being made in the media  of the latter distinction, but Boone Isaacs just shrugs it off. With Dawn Hudson as CEO and now Boone Isaacs as President, plus a record 14 women on the Board Of Governors and a meaningful drive toward diversity in the overall membership, it is going to be harder than ever for critics to haul out the usual ‘It’s just an old white man’s club’ description when talking about this new age Academy, even though it is a long way from completely changing its image. But I think more than anything Boone Isaac’s election is a vote for stability in an organization trying to come to grips with a changing business and world. She’s a familiar face, and well-liked within the Academy and that goes a long way in this prestigious position she has now inherited from outgoing one-term President Hawk Koch. When I spoke to Boone Isaacs this morning she was basking in the glory of her election, but definitely looking to the future. Read More »

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Suspense Builds As Motion Picture Academy Prepares To Elect New President

By | Wednesday July 24, 2013 @ 3:58pm PDT
Pete Hammond

On Tuesday night the new Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will meet to pick a new president. Current one-term president Hawk Koch has served nine years on the board and is prohibited by a dopey Academy rule from running again as governors are termed out after nine years. It seems odd that once elected president, even if termed out on the board, that you can’t have the opportunity to run for the full possible four one-year terms Academy bylaws allow. But the Academy being the Academy does things their own way. A new president is just learning the ropes in the first year so it seems short-sighted to cut that short.

Related: Analysis: Amy Pascal Leads “Historic” Day For Women And The Motion Picture Academy

Nevertheless, Koch is out (he’ll be returning to the co-presidency of the Producers Guild for another year) and the so-called race to succeed him is, by all accounts inside and out of the Academy, clearly between two officers: In one corner there’s Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chairman Rob Friedman, who serves as Academy Treasurer; in the other there’s Cheryl Boone Isaacs, a marketing consultant who currently serves as First VP but is actually the only person to my knowledge who has ever filled every single elected Academy office except president. In the past she has also been VP, Treasurer, Secretary, President of the Academy Foundation, and last year produced the Governors Awards. Both, if elected, would be eligible to serve four one-year terms.

Like the Pope, the new prez will come from within the ranks of the 48-member Board of Governors (think of them as the College of Cardinals). But, other media speculation aside, I don’t think there’s much of a prayer that any surprise names will come to the fore despite the fact that a third of the board was just elected last week. When Koch was chosen last August, the only other names in nomination were, you guessed it, Friedman and Boone Isaacs. And then there were two. There seems to be no new revolution brewing within the Academy that would produce a third-party candidate.

The Academy also being the Academy sort of runs the anti-election, very under the radar. Neither Friedman nor Boone Isaacs would admit they are actually running for the gig, even after I asked both that question point blank. As Boone Isaacs said, “You have to understand this whole thing really just happens on one night (July 30)”. So there are no lawn signs, no campaign speeches, no fundraising — just a meeting. Although neither would admit they are a candidate, they both clearly are. “If chosen I will serve,” is how Friedman put it to me at last week’s Academy’s tribute to past president Fay Kanin. Although Boone Isaacs also wouldn’t declare her candidacy to Deadline at Monday’s Academy tribute to Wong Kar Wai, she said she would be beyond honored to take on the presidency. “I would be thrilled and probably react like a schoolgirl if it happened,” she joked. Read More »

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WGA And Academy Tribute To Fay Kanin

By | Tuesday July 16, 2013 @ 5:01pm PDT
Pete Hammond

The Writers Guild Of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences held a tribute Monday night for Fay Kanin, past Academy and WGA Screen Branch President among many other accomplishments. Kanin died in March at the age of 95. How fitting that the tribute was held at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre on a day when the Academy announced a record 14 women are now serving on the Board Of Governors. When she became only the 2nd female President in Academy history in 1979 (Bette Davis served for two weeks in 1941 but enraged committee members and had to resign), Kanin was the sole woman on the entire Board. The 4-term Acad Pres was a true groundbreaker and a real giver as was clearly evident in the many speeches praising her life and career Monday night for an audience that included several past and present Academy Presidents and Board members. Read More »

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Movie Academy Names 2013-2014 Board Of Governors: Amy Pascal, Nancy Utley, And Alex Gibney Among Newcomers Joining

By | Monday July 15, 2013 @ 11:30am PDT

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Ten first-time governors have been elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors. In addition, eight incumbents have been reelected and one previous governor is returning to the board. This year’s election increases the Academy’s governing body from 43 to

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OSCARS: Live Concert To Feature Nominated Songs, Scores

By | Wednesday July 10, 2013 @ 7:00pm PDT

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tells Deadline that there is no formal announcement at this time, but we have learned that an email went to members of the Academy’s Music Branch today announcing that Oscar-nominated songs and scores will be featured in a live concert for the first time. The nontelevised event will be held February 27 at UCLA’s Royce Hall, three days before the 86th annual Academy Awards ceremony. “A symphony orchestra of Los Angeles studio musicians will perform a suite from each score of up to 10 minutes in length,” Music Branch governors Charles Fox, Arthur Hamilton and David Newman said in the email. “Subject to availability, each original composer will conduct his or her own work. We’re planning for brief onstage conversation with composers and their directors about the process of creating music for motion pictures.” Performers and writers of Oscar-nominated songs are featured during the televised ceremony, but “the musical scores … have not been performed on the Oscars in a fully realized way because of the length of the show”, the statement said. The governors described the concert as a “milestone in Oscar music history” and something that would “hopefully become an annual event”. The Academy said the initiative came directly from the Music Branch, and it had no further comment. Read the full email after the jump: Read More »

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