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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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Academy Voters React To ‘Social Network; Blake Edwards Reacts To Academy Tribute

Pete Hammond

Sony Pictures’ Oscar hopeful The Social Network not only had a good weekend at the box office with an estimated $23 million, but an even better weekend at the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The film’s “official” West Coast member screening Saturday night at the Samuel Goldwyn theatre in Beverly Hills drew what was described by my spies there as “packed”, “three quarters full”, “about 800” crowd, depending on whom I spoke to. There was a lot of advance interest in this particular screening due to the fact that the blogosphere is early touting Social Network as an Oscar frontrunner for Best Picture – and, in some cases, even the frontrunner. But there’s also been speculation about whether the advanced age of some Academy members might preclude their enjoyment of this Facebook origins movie. Based on what I have been told today by voters who attended, Sony needn’t be too worried. But they are. A rep for the film took the time to send me an unsolicited email that read in part,  “FYI, the Academy screening of The Social Network went really well last night. Very full, mix of young and older. Great response to the film throughout. Good applause at the end. Lots of conversation and chatting afterwards! It’s very exciting.”

Let me contrast that spin with my own reports from some of the members NOT associated with the film: “Good turnout tonight, possibly the best of the year to date. Reaction very good as well. Big applause Read More »

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Oscar Deadlines For Foreign Films & Shorts

Mike Fleming

Beverly Hills, CA – Friday, October 1, is the deadline to submit entries in the Live Action Short Film, Animated Short Film and Foreign Language Film categories to be considered for the 83rd Academy Awards®. Complete entries must arrive at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by 5 p.m. PT that day.

In the short film categories, filmmakers must submit an entry form, one film print or copy in an approved digital format, and all other required materials by the deadline.

In the Foreign Language Film category, filmmakers must submit entry forms, one English-subtitled film print or copy in an approved digital format, and all other required materials by the deadline. Only one motion picture will be accepted from each country.

Complete 83rd Academy Awards rules are available at Additional information may be obtained by contacting Awards Coordinator Torene Svitil via phone at (310) 247-3000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (310) 247-3000 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, ext. 116, by fax at (310) 247-2600, or by e-mail at

The 83rd Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 will be presented on Sunday, February 27, 2011, at the Kodak Theatre.

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Academy Narrows Field For Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowships

Mike Fleming

Academy Announces Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship Finalists for 2010

Beverly Hills, CA – Ten writers have been selected as finalists for the 25th annual Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Their scripts will now be read and judged by the Academy’s Nicholl Committee, which may award as many as five of the prestigious $30,000 fellowships.

This year’s finalists are (listed alphabetically by author):

Art Corriveau, Santa Fe, New Mexico, “Nicky Flynn Finally Gets a Life”
Destin Daniel Cretton, San Diego, Calif., “Short Term 12”
Sebastian Davis, Los Angeles, Calif., “Drunk-Dialing”
Marvin Krueger, North Hollywood, Calif., “And Handled with a Chain”
Andrew Lanham, Austin, Texas, “The Jumper of Maine”
Tim Macy, Kansas City, Mo., “The Last Queen”
Micah Ranum, Beverly Hills, Calif., “A Good Hunter”
Cinthea Stahl, North Hollywood, Calif., “Identifying Marks”
Logan Steiner, Redondo Beach, Calif., “The Promise of Spring”
Sage Vanden Heuvel, Ann Arbor, Mich., “Inner Earth”

The finalists were selected from 6,304 scripts submitted for this year’s competition. The competition is open to any individual who has not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay for more than $5,000, or received a fellowship or prize that includes a “first look” clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer’s work.

The Nicholl Committee, chaired by producer Gale Anne Hurd, is composed of writers Naomi Foner, Daniel Petrie, Jr., Tom Rickman and Dana Stevens; actor Eva Marie Saint; cinematographers John Bailey and Steven B. Poster; executive Bill Mechanic; producers Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro; and agent Ronald R.

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The Importance Of Academy Screenings: Oscar Prospects For ‘The Town’ Lift Quickly

Pete Hammond

The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Science’s official private weekend screenings for voting members are generally a must-stop for serious Oscar contenders, not only to show the films to voters all at once but also to gauge reaction both audibly during the film and by buzz in the lobby and restrooms after. After complaints about the quality of some the films shown, the Academy last year revamped the committee that chooses them and now seems much more savvy about booking movies that aren’t wasting members’ time – or so they’d like to think. While some fluff still gets screened, the cinematic menu this time of year turns to a heavy sked of Oscar prospects.

Not everything gets booked because there are basically just four slots each weekend: two matinees and two evening shows. But of the 10 pictures nominated last year, only The Blind Side, which seemed to catch even Warner Bros by surprise, did not play at one of these screenings.

In terms of this year’s Oscar contenders, it was a big weekend for Ben Affleck’s The Town (which he directed and co-wrote and stars in for Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures) which topped the weekend box office with nearly $24 million. That was a bit of a surprise, particularly for an adult-skewing drama (albeit one with a LOT of action in it). Then again, it had a 94% fresh critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But what was really significant awards-wise is that I hear it had a smash screening at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills on Saturday night. So you have a film right out of the gate among Fall releases that looks to be a serious awards prospect.

Even though the movie’s official Academy screening was skedded just as Yom Kippur was ending, the turnout was larger than normal and the response at the end very enthusiastic. A 2-time Oscar winner who frequently attends these private weekend screenings for voting members told me, “There was big loud applause at the end credits — and that’s something I rarely see at the Academy.” He went on to praise the film as easily one of the best he has seen there in some time (and, interestingly, he’s not impressed with much of the 2010 output so far). He singled out Affleck’s direction and the acting ensemble for particular kudos. Two other Academy members who saw the film at non-Academy screenings told me the same thing. So Warners could Read More »

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Waiting For Godard Might Not Be In Vain

By | Tuesday September 7, 2010 @ 3:19pm PDT
Mike Fleming

The Academy responds to recent speculative reports that Jean-Luc Godard won’t attend the Academy Awards to accept his honorary Oscar:

Statement Regarding Jean-Luc Godard’s
Reply to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

In response to Academy President Tom Sherak’s letter informing him that the Board of Governors had voted him an Honorary Oscar, Jean-Luc Godard has sent a cordial, hand-written note back to Sherak. In it, Godard graciously thanked the organization for the honor and referred to himself as “the fourth musketeer,” in acknowledgement of the fact that three others (Kevin Brownlow, Francis Ford Coppola and Eli Wallach) are among the year’s honorees. His note, relayed to the Academy late last week via an assistant to Godard, indicated that, schedule permitting, he would come to Los Angeles for the November 13 Governors Awards event.

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Peter Jackson Unveils His Childhood Movie

EXCLUSIVE: One for the fanboys. This clip was shot in London at BAFTA’s recent Ray Harryhausen tribute where Peter Jackson presented an amateur childhood movie he made recreating Harryhausen’s famed Cyclops scene from The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. (Note that, at the beginning, the teenaged Jackson hadn’t yet figured out how to matte in the battling skeletons.) For those in LA, the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is showing a Ray Harryhausen double feature this Friday at the Sam Goldwyn Building. And an exhibition of Harryhausen’s work will be on display at the museum through August 22nd:

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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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SHOCKER! Academy Discusses Moving Oscars To January; Moguls See Plusses

Osc2BREAKING NEWS!… EXCLUSIVE… 2ND UPDATE: Latest news is that it’s more likely to be the plan for 2012. But outside chance it could be for the next Oscars. Also, Academy executive director Bruce Davis sent out an email scolding AMPAS board members for leaking to me. Hah!

UPDATED: I’ve just learned that, at tonight’s Board of Governors meeting of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, members discussed moving up the 2011 Oscars to sometime in January. You read that right — JANUARY! This would be a shocking change, not just because the ABC telecast of the 83rd Academy Awards would conflict with (or is it more like outfox?) NBC’s competing Golden Globes broadcast. And bump up against the Super Bowl. But it would leap in front of the SAG awards January 30th and the BAFTA awards February 13th and also steal their thunder. It also would condense the awards campaigning for the already chaotic (and I think idiotic) Top 10 Best Picture nominations period, as well as dramatically alter  the way studios are timing the release of their movies.

oscarsmillingBut the moguls see potential plusses. “The awards season is too long currently. This will shorten and reduce the amount of campaigning,” one studio head told me tonight. “Also, it will make the Oscars the definitive awards show again. The Globes can’t move a lot earlier as all the movies wouldn’t be released yet. “The only potential downside is how do people … Read More »

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