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Inside AMPAS Board Of Governors’ Meeting: Conflict Of Interest & Latino Damage Control (Joke About Being “Old White Guy Club”)

EXCLUSIVE: Few things in Hollywood are more secret than the Board Of Governors meetings of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. In fact, an insider tells me that, at one of the most recent conclaves, AMPAS President Hawk Koch ”went around the room asking if ‘anybody is friends with Nikki Finke?’ before beginning.” (Related: Hey, Academy, I Was Hiding Under The Rug) So let me tell you what was discussed at a recent session:

– Governors argued pro and con instituting a so-called ‘conflict of interest’ clause for themselves. At the present time, they do not have one. “This was specifically related to Academy Board Members receiving lucrative contracts from the Academy for things like behind-the-scenes footage, Oscars documentaries, etc. And they’re having first dibs on these contracts,” my insider tells me, clarifying, “The argument for adding a conflict of interest clause was that ‘it looks bad that we don’t have one’ and ’would be bad publicity if it got out’. The argument against a conflict of interest clause was this: that although it may look bad, every member on the board is talented and should be allowed to work for the Academy if the Academy deems them worthy and fit to do so.” The suggested solution was allowing governors to take a leave of absence from the board to work on projects which the Academy directly underwrites. I’m told one Governor in particular is shooting a behind-the-Oscars TV documentary for the Turner Classic Movies cable channel to air during the next awards season “and the board unanimously voted to allow him to be grandfathered in,” according to my source. No final decision was made.

– Governors at the board meeting discussed the failure by the 2013 Academy Awards’ In Memoriam segment to mention prominent Latina actress Lupe Ontiveros and how that snub ”may have damaged their appeal to Latin Americans,” my insider says. The governors decided ”that they need to reach out to minorities more often. And they joked about the Academy being an old white guy club and how that appears to other demographics.” Outrage erupted after the Mexican-American star with a career spanning four decades in movies/TV died in July at age 69 but was omitted from the tribute sequence. Latino viewers took their protests to Twitter and an open letter addressed to the Academy was written by Alex NogalesCEO/president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. He noted that Ontiveros had applied for AMPAS membership and been denied, despite the support of Miguel Sandoval and Edward James Olmos. In April, members of the National Latino Media Council met with AMPAS bigwigs to discuss the dustup and find ways to increase Latino representation among Academy membership. Ontiveros is best known for Selena, As Good As It Gets, Real Women Have Curves and The Goonies but she made hundreds of films and TV shows.

– The Governors also debated allowing other mediums to be nominated for Academy Awards, not just theatrical releases but also New Media films. Michael Moore, who’s on the AMPAS Board, strenuously objected. He held up his iPhone and said, “If I’m watching Spartacus on this, I’m watching something. But it’s not a movie. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s not a movie.” Moore did suggest the Academy create a fund to financially help small market theaters Read More »

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And The Academy’s New President Is… Behind-The-Scenes Of Hawk Koch Win

What really happened behind-the-scenes of the election for a new president of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences tonight? Deadline’s Nikki Finke followed the twists and turns that led to Hawk Koch winning:

Make no mistake about it: veteran Hollywood producer Hawk Koch Hawk Kochwanted the job “desperately”, in the words of both his friends and frenemies. Not just because he would be a second-generation president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences, but more because it would further frame his identity independent of a famous filmmaker father. (He’d already changed his name from Howard W Koch Jr.) And make no mistake about this, either: a group of  Academy insiders just as desperately didn’t want him to be their president. One principal problem was that Koch can only serve for one year before he terms out on the Academy’s Board Of Governors. (He can run again for the panel after a hiatus.) Plus, few others were as motivated to be president, and fewer still were willing to campaign as openly for it. (How to run for high office without doing it is a trick which even consummate politicians haven’t yet mastered.)

So when those present among the Academy’s maximum 42 governors (usually 43, but screenwriter and past president Frank Pierson passed away days ago) gathered in their Beverly Hills boardroom on this Tuesday, it was for a ritualistic procedure that rivals papal succession. Choosing their current president followed seven months of twists and turns that almost no outsiders knew about. Suffice it to say that Koch’s name crossing the 50% threshold to be elected was both expected but unexpected. Here’s why:

Related: Hawk Koch Elected New Motion Picture Academy President Tonight

Koch’s initial lobbying to be in first position for AMPAS President began as far back as January when one of my insiders confided that Hawk during the last Oscars go-round told him he was going after the job. By March, it was an open secret that Koch was campaigning. “It was odd that Hawk has made it so clear that he wants to do it,” a source mused to me at the time. It was seen as unseemly. Because the sad fact is that, year after year, the AMPAS governors want most to run those candidates who don’t want them. But this year a small group of governors was actively campaigning against Koch’s candidacy. Their reason was mostly snobbism. “Look at the history of the Academy Presidents,” one insider explained to me, “Bette Davis, Cecil B DeMille, Gregory Peck. How unimpressive to follow those names with Warren Beatty’s line producer who insists on not being called Howard Koch Jr.”

Actors Tom Hanks and Annette Bening were unsuccessfully sounded out first, just as they are every year. Then the anti-Koch camp went to screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson, who didn’t want to do it. Strong names in the other branches were approached as well. But documentary maker Michael Moore “doesn’t make meetings and doesn’t have the time,” my sources told me. Fox Filmed Entertainment Chairman Jim Gianopulos ”would have restored lustre” but also didn’t have time.

In the meantime, Koch kept campaigning. He explained away the biggest misgivings of his AMPAS colleagues during quiet conversations. He pledged that, although recently re-elected as Producers Guild president, he would resign and leave running that organization through 2014 to his co-president Mark Gordon. That he could accomplish a lot in only a one-year term. It was then he also started acknowledging both inside and outside AMPAS (even to the press) that he was officially open to being drafted. “They’re coming up and telling me, ‘You should be the next president.’ I’m flattered people are saying that,” Koch told colleagues.

He went around explaining his long 40-year history with the Academy, how he’d been on the Board Of Governors for 8 years, and chaired the General Membership Committee, and served on other panels. How he’d been an officer of the Board for 11 years, and then 1st Vice President. And so on. “I feel very fortunate to have a life in this business, and I love giving back to the business. It’s a legacy,” he told people in his stump speech. ”Everyone would most like to have Tom and Annette but they’re actors who don’t have the time. I know. I’ve been in the business since  Clark Gable gave me my first horseback ride when I was 4 years old. I was really proud that the Producers Guild has become the arbiter of who really produced movies. And at the  Academy I had a big part in changing the fabric of the rules. And if it  happens that I became Academy President, I want to keep doing good. It’s a huge responsibility, exciting, scary, and also a thankless job. But you don’t get anywhere by just sitting off in the corner. I have ideas.”

Meanwhile the anti-Koch camp’s next phase was handicapping who’d win or lose the 2012-2013 Board Of Governors elections. Two very good possibilities for the presidency, Kathleen Kennedy and Mark Johnson, were running against each other in the Producers Branch. The thought was that, while reluctant, they might be draftable. Then on June 1st, George Lucas to great surprise hired Steven Spielberg’s longtime producer Kennedy as co-chair of his LucasFilms. Any hope that she’d also take on the AMPAS presidency faded. And when the elections were held, Kennedy defeated Mark Johnson, so he couldn’t be a candidate this year.

Next, veteran filmmaker Bob Rehme was seen as a strong éminence grise coming back on the board after a hiatus. And since he’d been AMPAS president twice before, a third term wasn’t out of order. But he didn’t want the gig. Two more women’s names circulated. Briefly, Gale Anne Hurd of the Producers Branch though she’s working mostly in television now. Very seriously, Cheryl Boone Isaacs from the Public Relations Branch who would have been only the third woman, and the first African-American, to hold the Academy presidency. But then this “great diversity candidate” was put in charge of the Academy’s 4th Annual Governors Awards, thus neutralizing her inevitability for now.

Still, after the election, a seemingly perfect concensus candidate emerged: Rob Friedman, the Summit Entertainment Co-Chair Read More »

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Hawk Koch Elected New Motion Picture Academy President Tonight

Beverly Hills, CA – Producer Hawk Koch was elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tonight (July 31) by the organization’s Board of Governors. This will be his first term in the office.

Koch, who is beginning his ninth year as a governor representing the Producers Branch, has served as first vice president of the Academy during the past year. He previously served three one-year terms as treasurer and one term as vice president.

In addition, Public Relations Branch governor Cheryl Boone Isaacs was elected first vice president; Producers Branch governor Kathleen Kennedy was elected to one vice president post and Writers Branch governor Phil Robinson was re-elected to the other vice president post; Public Relations Branch governor Rob Friedman was elected treasurer; and Executives Branch governor Robert Rehme was elected secretary.

Koch’s producer credits include “Losing Isaiah” and “Gorky Park.” He recently served as executive producer on “Source Code” and is executive producer on the upcoming “Very Good Girls.”

Academy board members serve three-year terms, while officers serve one-year terms, with a maximum of four consecutive terms in any one office.

PREVIOUS: The announcement should come between 8-9 PM tonight of a newly elected president and the officers for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences by its Board of Governors. More later…

Related: Three-Term President Tom Sherak’s Farewell Letter To Motion Picture Academy Members

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Oscar: New Rules Affect Music, Foreign Language, Makeup, Visual Effects Categories

Beverly Hills, CA – The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Artsand Sciences approved rules for the 85th Academy Awards. The most significant changes affect the Music, Foreign Language Film, Makeup and Visual Effects categories.

In the Music (Original Song) category, the Executive Committee may recommend that a fourth songwriter for an individual song be considered in rare and extraordinary circumstances. This amends the rule that has been in effect since 2005, whereby up to two songwriters could be eligible per song, although a third songwriter could be added if he or she were found to be an essentially equal contributor.

In the Foreign Language Film category, films must be submitted to the Academy in 35mm or DCP, but are no longer required to be exhibited in those formats in their countries of origin.

The award given in the Makeup category will now be known as the Makeup and Hairstyling Award. Additionally, during the nominations process, all branch members who have seen the seven shortlisted titles will receive ballots to list their top three choices.

In the Visual Effects category, nominees will be selected from a pool of ten films chosen by the Branch Executive Committee by secret ballot. Previously, the committee could put forward as many as ten productions or as few as seven.

Other adjustments to the rules include standard date changes and other “housekeeping” adjustments.

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews

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Movie Academy Elects 4 First-Time Governors, Returns 7 Incumbents



Beverly Hills, CA – Cinematographer Richard P. Crudo, producer Gale Anne Hurd, composer David Newman, and film editor Michael Tronick make up this year’s first-time electees to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors. In addition, seven incumbents were reelected and three other motion picture professionals will return to the Board after a time away. The reelected governors are Craig Barron, Visual Effects; Annette Bening, Actors; Don Hall, Sound; Jeffrey Kurland, Art Directors; John Lasseter, Short Films and Feature Animation; Robert Rehme, Executives; and Phil Robinson, Writers.

Returning to the board after a hiatus are Michael Apted, Documentary; Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Public Relations; and Paul Mazursky, Directors.  Apted previously served from 2002 to 2009.  Isaacs served from 1988 to 1997 and again from 2000 to 2009. Mazursky was on the board from 1997 to 2000 and again from 2006 to 2009.

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NO! Academy Won’t Move Up 2012 Oscars

The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences just issued this statement about the story I scooped back in June: that the Board of Governors was considering moving up the Oscars to January. The principal reason was so that the Academy Awards would not come last during awards season and have its thunder stolen by the Golden Globes, Hollywood Guilds, Film Indie Spirit awards, etc. (Of course, those awards could be just moved up as well.) The proposal was widely supported by the major film studios. But the technical logistics of moving up the Oscars were proving nightmarish, especially when it came to ensuring how and when Academy members could watch and vote on the coming films. So today’s announcement follows last night’s Board of Governors meeting as well as last night’s surprise that executive director Bruce Davis will retire in 2011. Here it is:

The Academy’s Board of Governors has determined that the date of the 84th Academy Awards in 2012 will not be significantly earlier than the now-traditional last Sunday in February. A different date still remains a possibility in subsequent years, and the Academy’s staff and Board will continue to evaluate the advantages and challenges associated with such a change.

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OSCAR: Academy’s Bruce Davis To Retire



EXCLUSIVE: This is truly the end of an era. I’ve just learned that Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences executive director Bruce Davis announced at this evening’s Board Of Governors meeting that he intends to retire on June 30th, 2011, after 30 years working for the world’s preeminent film group. Davis has run AMPAS with an increasingly iron fist in recent years and become a controversial figure to say the least. While he has many successes under his belt, the least of which is that AMPAS is still a rich and vital organization whose prestige remains high, Davis also had notable failures in recent years. Most glaringly, he couldn’t get an Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures off the ground, with AMPAS spending tens of millions of dollars to buy the property for the proposed 8-acre campus without first raising the necessary funding and now having nothing to show for the money because the project is postponed indefinitely. He also allowed AMPAS to lag behind in technology, which means administrators will have to start from ground zero to ensure Academy voters can receive the films in competition on their computers and vote online if the 2012 Oscars are moved up to January or early February as the Board of Governors is considering. He also presided over a smugly arrogant organization shrouded in secrecy (favored staff were sworn to silence when they received large raises despite the global financial crisis) and accustomed to bullying outsiders and even employees … Read More »

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RED STATE ALERT: Movie Academy Elects Michael Moore To Its Board Of Governors

Hollywood-hating conservatives are going to have a field day with this:

michael moore 2Beverly Hills, CA – A trio of Oscar® recipients – director Kathryn Bigelow, film editor Anne Coates and documentarian Michael Moore – make up the year’s first-time electees to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors. Coates received her award for the editing of “Lawrence of Arabia,” Moore won in the Documentary Feature category for “Bowling from Columbine,”

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