An insider tells me that, at the most recent and always secret Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences‘ Board Of Governors meeting, president Hawk Koch ”went around the room asking if ‘anybody is friends with Nikki Finke?’ before beginning”. Gotta say, Hawk made my day.
The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is still basking in the glow of its successful Academy general membership meeting on Saturday in LA and NY. So Academy President Hawk Koch and CEO Dawn Hudson sent out a letter summarizing the event to the Acad’s nearly 6,000-person membership Tuesday night. …
Today’s first-ever Academy membership meeting was deemed a success by both Acad President Hawk Koch and CEO Dawn Hudson, as well as a random sampling of several members with whom I spoke immediately following. Certainly the turnout was stellar with the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theatre (which has about 1000 seats) nearly full with members only (no guests) which Koch told me was the first time since it was built that the audience was near-SRO with only Academy members. Koch says New York and Bay Area venues were also well-attended which bodes well for continuing this as an annual event. “On a scale from one to ten, I give it a twelve”, said Koch who according to several attendees I talked to got lots of plaudits from those who asked questions in the audience. ”We’ll hear from our members. But in that room there was a lot of love for this event. I don’t think there has ever been an occasion where we just invited members. It was historic in that way. This kind of came out of the branch mixers we have done, and people asked about doing something cross-branches which was sort of the impetus for this meeting”, Hudson told me in a joint call with Koch shortly after the 12:35PM (PT) conclusion of the event.
Academy Announces New Rule Changes At Membership Meeting; All Members Can Now Vote On Foreign Language Films
The Academy announced rule changes that will allow all members for the first time to vote in all 24 categories including Foreign Language and Documentary Shorts, either via theatrical screenings or DVD. Previously members had to attend special screenings for …
AMPAS President Hawk Koch tonight used the Academy as a promo tool for the 1992 comedy which he exec produced 21 years ago. Wayne’s World has zero to do with prestigious Academy functions, but a rep told me similar screenings are in the works to attract a new audience to AMPAS. Tonight’s event sold out in 90 seconds at $5 a pop.
With Saturday Night Live boss Lorne Michaels (who produced the pic) Koch wrangled stars Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, and director Penelope Spheeris to the event following years of tensions between the trio. In a pre-film panel at the Academy’s Wilshire theater, moderator Koch skirted the infamous squabbles surrounding the Wayne’s World shoot. Those include Myers’ reputed difficult on-set demands. And reports that he Myers and Carvey had fallen out after Myers lifted his Dr. Evil voice from Carvey. Spheeris meanwhile has accused Myers of vetoing her as the sequel’s director because she didn’t listen to his edit requests. (“‘I hated that bastard for years”, she said in a 2008 interview.) No questions were allowed from the at-capacity audience. And the panelists were explicitly instructed not to talk to press at the event.
Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president Hawk Koch broke today’s news naming its 86th Academy Awards producers — a rerun of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron – because I’d received a tip this morning and was …
Speculation has been swirling this Easter holiday weekend in the media and among Academy types just exactly what the Save The Date for the “special event” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences just sent out to their members (in an email from …
Oscar telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron know their stuff when it comes to putting on a show. With huge musical successes in movies (Chicago, Hairspray, Footloose), TV (The Music Man, Cinderella), and Broadway (Promises Promises, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying), they have the chops to pull off the film industry’s biggest night of the year, though it has sometimes proved a pitfall for other producers. It can be challenging when the Academy mandates that valuable airtime goes to all 24 categories, including sound mixers, makeup and hairstylists, and producers of documentary short subjects, to name a few. But that doesn’t faze this veteran producing pair who say they started assembling the show’s elements from the day they got the job in late August.
Related: OSCARS: New James Bond Promo Ad
“We certainly are going to be celebrating the nominees and winners like a regular Oscar show, but they are fitting into the design of the show that we’ve created, so there’s going to be an enormous amount of entertainment”, Zadan says, pointing to the 50 years of James Bond tribute they have announced, which won’t be a reunion
The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has released portions of an interview with president Hawk Koch about Seth MacFarlane as Oscars host, on Oscar telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and their show, on the competition among this year’s motion pictures, and on taking charge of the Academy Awards. Deadline put …
OK, Academy members, this is your last chance to switch from online voting to a paper ballot or simply even request a paper ballot to vote in the finals for the 2012 Oscars. Balloting begins February 8th and runs to 5 PM PT on February 19th, but if you find yourself frustrated by what some members feel is a too-complex online voting experience during nominations, you only have until tomorrow, February 1, to switch to paper by calling 1-800 251-0185 or emailing the membership department at email@example.com.
The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seems to be doing everything it can to avoid some of the problems members had with online voting for noms, mostly just by just trying repeatedly to inform members they do have the option of paper but must make that request by tomorrow. A follow-up to last week’s email informing voters of their options was sent to members by President Hawk Koch earlier this afternoon. It was simply to inform them of tomorrow’s deadline to request paper with a P.S. that all members would be receiving a package of DVD screeners for the nominated Live Action and Animated shorts and Documentary Features by start of voting. Rather than allowing voting for these films only at special screenings, this is the first year the Academy is sending them to the entire membership in order to foster greater participation.
OSCARS: Academy Sets Details For Final Vote; Online Voters Given New Deadline To Switch To Paper Ballots
With final voting for this year’s Oscars set to begin February 8 with ballots due in by 5 PM on February 19, the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is entering into Phase 2 of their first year allowing online voting. As this column has repeatedly chronicled during the nominations phase, it was a little rocky, with many members vocally complaining about being “locked out” and unable to get into the online voting system using the passwords and/or security codes they were assigned. For some it took several tries at voting before succeeding, but as Academy President Hawk Koch told me on the morning of the Oscar nominations, the voter turnout was among the highest the Academy has ever seen, eclipsing the past several years.
But in an attempt to make sure every voter has the option they want and knows what they are getting into, the Academy today sent an email from Koch, CEO Dawn Hudson and COO Ric Robertson to members who had originally opted in to vote online. It offers them the option to switch to the traditional paper ballot for the finals. It read in part, “because some online voters had issues with the necessary security measures during the nominations voting, we are offering members who registered to vote online the option of requesting a paper ballot for the final round of voting”. Those Phase 1 online voters who want to make the switch must either call the Academy’s 1-800 number provided or email the membership department no later than Friday, February 1. That part is bolded in the Acad’s email just in case somebody out there doesn’t get the message.
The letter urges voters using online or paper to expedite the process this time. “We encourage all members to vote early so you have ample time to complete the process,” it reads. “We will be communicating with you throughout the voting process, and you can expect to hear from us again shortly with very specific instructions and information”.
OSCARS: Academy President Defends Controversial Online Voting, Says More Members Voted Than Ever Before
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences President Hawk Koch vigorously defended the Academy’s controversial new system of online voting when we spoke right after the nominations announcement this morning. He said despite the kinks and some complaints from members about difficulty in voting electronically that it actually brought out the biggest voter participation the organization has had. “It’s the first time, yes. But the first time you do anything of course there’s problems. Remember the first time you walked? Of course there’s problems. But the truth is we’ve had more people voting for nominations than we’ve ever had. And we had more people in each branch, every single branch had more people voting. So that portends two things. One, the online voting worked and two, everyone was excited about the films this year. They wanted to make sure and vote. And three, the questions about ’oh has everybody had a chance to see all the films?’ Our members saw all the films,” he said breaking with the long held tradition of keeping Academy voter turnout totals secret and not commenting at all on the subject. There had been speculation the Academy’s sometimes-rocky transition into online voting might actually depress voter participation but Koch said that definitely turned out not to be the case according to their internal figures.
Of course the Academy has been under strong scrutiny for the way it has conducted its first foray into the perilous waters of online voting, something every guild and most voting organizations have been doing for the past few years. Because the Academy (which could be a prized target for hackers) has to be overly concerned about security and the threat of having their system infiltrated they devised a “foolproof” system involving the use of codes and passwords and special phone numbers for member verification which confused some members and angered others. Others I spoke with over the course of voting seemed fine with it, so it was a mixed bag. The Academy tried to accommodate everyone and extended the registration period by two weeks after the first Deadline article appeared on November 28, and later changed its rules to automatically send a paper ballot for those who didn’t register online. As more members expressed frustration about being “locked out” of the system the Academy took another unprecedented step and even extended voting by one day to January 4th instead of the original announced date of January 3rd.
Flight director Robert Zemeckis was sitting next to me at Saturday’s fourth annual Governors Awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences saluting Hal Needham, George Stevens Jr., D.A. Pennebaker, and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian winner Jeffrey Katzenberg. He asked what I thought the news coming out of tonight would be. I quickly replied, “It’s become a very big place, perhaps the biggest in the season, for Oscar campaigning.” No question since this very important event is taking place closer than ever to official Academy voting (which begins December 17th and runs through January 3rd – 10 days earlier than usual). So contenders were out in force. What better place to be seen than in a room full of Academy voters? “Now it begins. This is the first really big one of the season,” one studio marketing executive said about the very impressive turnout.
Zemeckis noted the heavy studio presence making a big difference in star turnout. Studios this year have more Oscar hopefuls than usual, and many potential nominees eager to talk were at those tables: Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal and co-star Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty); director Juan Antonio Bayona, stars Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland (The Impossible); Bradley Cooper, Jacki Weaver, director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook); director Nicholas Jarecki, star Richard Gere (Arbitrage); John Krasinski, Rosemarie DeWitt (Promised Land); John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, director Ben Lewin (The Sessions); writer Tony Kushner, director Steven Spielberg (Lincoln); director Tom Hooper, Producer Eric Fellner (Les Misérables); Omar Sy (The Intouchables); Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann (This Is 40); director Joe Wright (Anna Karenina); Kristen Stewart (On The Road); Amy Adams (The Master); Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas (The Dark Knight Rises); Writer Chris Terrio (Argo); Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained). And this is just a partial list.
Tarantino had come directly to the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood And Highland Center from his DGA screening of awards-buzzed Django Unchained. The violent spaghetti western homage had not screened in its finished form to an audience anywhere until Saturday afternoon – and it reportedly received two standing ovations, immediately erasing fears that it wouldn’t be ready in time for its Christmas Day release or that it was over-hyped as a serious contender. Twitter reaction is pretty ecstatic, too. Tarantino was clearly in a good mood, saying it was the first time he was able to screen the film to anyone other than the same “8 people” who’ve seen it over and over. “It was really great. They seemed to get all the jokes, and it played very well,” he told me. “You have to see this film,” Sony Chairman Amy Pascal told me as I came over to talk to Tarantino. (Sony has international on the film while The Weinstein Company retains domestic rights.) Film nerd that he blissfully is, Tarantino seemed just as excited when Governors awardee Needham came up to say hello. “I think Smokey And The Bandit is one of the best first-directed features to this day. And it is a real Southern film,” he said to the honoree he would later be toasting. Bradley Cooper, attending his first Governors Awards, noted how great it is that events like these allow people in the industry to talk to others they really admire and respect. Of course the real reason for this event was so the industry could take a good deal of time to honor their own with the highest awards they can bestow.
It made for quite an emotional night. Academy President Hawk Koch began the evening describing the congratulatory phone calls he made telling the four recipients that they had just been voted an Oscar. “I can still hear D.A. Pennebaker asking in disbelief, ‘Are you kidding?’ And George Stevens Jr saying, ‘Oh my God!’ True to form, Hal Needham gave a giant ‘Woo hoo!’ And Jeffrey Katzenberg, believe it or not, was speechless,” Koch said before describing what the evening (flawlessly produced by Don Mischer, Cheryl Boone Issacs, Charlie Haykel, Juliane Hare) was really all about. “The definition of who deserves an Honorary Oscar is simple. Each one of these people we are honoring tonight has made a difference to every single person in the film community, here in Hollywood, and all over the world. They have redefined our art form. They have changed how our movies are made and the impact on our lives.”
Next came a one-hour dinner break which became the Super Bowl of table-hopping as overworked awards consultants made sure their contenders were moving around the room for meets and greets with the Academy crowd.
After dinner U.S. Senator Al Franken came on to extoll the virtues of 87-year old documentary filmmaking legend D.A. Pennebaker, whose career spans music docs for the likes of Bob Dylan and David Bowie to penetrating political docs like 1960′s Primary and The War Room. One of his films even profiled Franken himself (2007′s Al Franken: God Spoke). “He was a pioneer in the use of cinéma vérité and the use of moving, even jerky, camera moves that has changed the way filmmakers shoot their movies. And his body of work has influenced us all, not just because he’s a great filmmaker but because his films feel so honest and true,” said Franken. Academy Documentary Governor Michael Moore echoed those sentiments in introducing Pennebaker by saying, ”Tonight we are honoring a man who invented the modern documentary.” The night’s first honoree,Pennebaker said referring to the Oscar, “Everyone here probably has one of these already… New York is a long way from here and people who make films in New York never even expect to go to Oscarland, much less even get one. And there’s also the distance between the 16MM and 35MM and the 70 film, so it’s a long stretch – and being here now I am trying to kind of deal with it. It’s hard.” His speech ran very long but was sincere so the audience went with it. But even he asked if he was overstaying his welcome.
Academy Governor Annette Bening introduced Honorary Oscar winner George Stevens Jr, saying there’s no single word that describes this man of many talents and strong Hollywood heritage who founded AFI and later the Kennedy Center Honors. “He has elevated the act of honoring others and made it a sublime art. He is a true enthusiast for the art of film in all its forms and we have all benefitted from his dogged determination to preserve, promote, and elevate filmmaking,” she said. Sidney Poitier then appeared to a standing ovation and spoke of his long friendship and association with Stevens Jr. who directed him in the TV movie Separate But Equal. Stevens spoke a terrific thank you, telling of going to the Oscars several times including once when his father won for directing A Place In The Sun in 1951. “On the way home I sat next to him in the car with the Oscar between us on the seat. He said, ‘We will have a better idea what kind of film this is in the next 25 years.’ He was talking about the test of time… I thank Dad for that and opening the door for me to a creative life that that has been so rich, and gifted me with so many wonderful friends in our profession,” he said as he clutched his brand new Academy Award.
Perhaps the liveliest presentation was to stunt man/director Hal Needham whom presenter Tarantino noted was only the second stunt person to receive an Oscar. (The first going to legendary Yakima Canutt.) Producer Albert S. Ruddy followed Tarantino with an absolutely hilarious tale about the making of a Needham film called Megaforce which caused major destruction on the Goldwyn lot where it was shooting. A very large missile built for the film inadvertently misfired sending a giant hole into an adjacent stage that then burned down. That didn’t stop Needham, who continued making the film despite personal injury and calamity. (“It was a very interesting movie. When you say ‘interesting’ as a producer it means it didn’t make any money,” Ruddy joked.) “You’re looking at the luckiest man alive and lucky to be alive,” said Needham in an emotional acceptance in which he also remembered his late mother. He told of early jobs including a fortuitous budget meeting with director Billy Wilder on his first gig as a stuntman, The Spirit Of St. Louis. “I want to thank the entire Hollywood community for allowing me to be a part of it.”
Last up was Katzenberg whose presentation also was responsible for the biggest starpower of the night (Spielberg, George Lucas and Kirk Douglas were among those sitting at his table) with both Will Smith and Tom Hanks offering their assessments of why Katzenberg is so successful as a philanthropist. “It’s not just a phone call, it’s the invitation to breakfast,” said a deadpan Hanks. “It’s the lunch that lasts exactly 47 minutes. It’s the follow-up phone call. It’s the visit to the office. It’s the tour of the facility. It’s the follow-up phone call. It’s a letter to remind you you had a phone call and a tour of the facility. And finally it is a thank you for the contribution you made.”
Then Hanks became serious about the humanity of Katzenberg
Academy President Hawk Koch Reveals Why He Chose Oscar Producers, Says They May “Speed Up” Presentations
Hawk Koch has not even been President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for a month yet but he’s already got his producers lined up for the Oscars - no small feat considering the awkward attempt to put a producer and even a host in place (widely reported to be Lorne Michaels and Jimmy Fallon) before he even got elected on July 31st. Koch always told me, on the record and off, that as far as he was concerned his first priority was to get a producer(s) hired and none of the media speculation about who it would be or how it was being done was going to affect that goal. He just forged ahead. And he said it was always going to be his decision, at least from the moment he got elected. And as he told me when we spoke Thursday evening that’s exactly how it has turned out with yesterday’s well-received announcement of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron as this year’s Oscarcast producers.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time but I have only been on the job for three weeks or so”, he said. “But about a week and a half ago it suddenly hit me at 2 AM in the morning. Neil and Craig! They’ve done movies, Broadway, TV, they have great taste and they’d be great to work with. They are real producers”.
The latter point is particularly important to Koch who, in order to do the one term Academy gig, has taken a leave of absence from his post as Co-President of the Producers Guild. So after his brainstorm he called a mutual friend and ran the idea past him, getting a very enthusiastic agreement that this was the perfect team for the job. When he called Zadan to inquire as to whether they might be interested in producing the Oscars if such a role was offered he says Zadan didn’t hesitate a moment and responded ‘yes’ immediately . “That really surprised me since usually it takes a lot longer to get your choice to agree or they are too busy, not this time though. Craig and Neil are busy but Craig said producing the Oscars was at the very top of their own bucket list,” (the pair produced Rob Reiner’s movie The Bucket List).
In what has to be a first for the normally sedate and reverential audiences at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theatre, members of Monday night’s packed house for the 70MM presentation of 1960’s classic epic Spartacus stood and repeatedly chanted “I Am Spartacus” shortly after its 95-year-old star Kirk Douglas was introduced to a rousing standing ovation during the pre-screening Q&A (which I moderated). Cued by Academy President Hawk Koch after his opening remarks, Douglas was clearly taken aback by the crowd’s eruption and said he’d never seen that kind of response before. Koch’s predecessor Tom Sherak remarked to me later, “Did you see Douglas’ face when we did that? Priceless.” Sherak, an unabashed Spartacus fan (the original poster hung in his Academy office during his presidency and this was a special night for him) orchestrated it all telling me he came up with the idea during a morning yoga session, planned it with Koch and then prepped the audience before Douglas entered from backstage. It was quite a moment, almost surreal. It was also ironic since Douglas remembers that for some strange reason director Stanley Kubrick actually wanted to cut the now-iconic scene where Spartacus’ fellow slaves all uttered the famous phrase. It’s not the only time they butted heads. Kubrick also wanted to cut Douglas’ crucifixion closeup after the actor spent a full day on the cross. Suffice to say that idea didn’t play well with the producer/star and it remains in the film.
No Oscars Host Or Producer Yet: Outgoing Academy President Tom Sherak Tried And Failed To Hire Jimmy Fallon, Lorne Michaels
EXCLUSIVE… UPDATED WITH MORE DETAILS: Tom Sherak now will go down in Oscars history as giving new definition to the word chutzpah. The outgoing president of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences tried to pull a fast one on the incoming president Hawk Koch who was just voted in Tuesday night. Choosing the producer and host of the Oscars is probably the most important job of the AMPAS president. Yet Sherak, despite knowing he himself was a lame duck, nevertheless broke protocol and tried to hire the 85th Academy Awards hosts for the February 24th, 2013, telecast which should be Koch’s responsibility. Sherak solicited TV and film producer Lorne Michaels and NBC Late Night host Jimmy Fallon. The choices were understandable because Fallon had done a good job hosting the Emmys in 2010, while Michaels is the longtime executive producer of Saturday Night Live. On the other hand, the recent trend has been away from a TV host like Fallon and instead towards bonafide movie stars. Deadline learned that Sherak went to the Academy’s Board Of Governors on his own initiative and said, “If I can find a producer, would you be interested?” The Board said yes.
But insiders tell me they felt Sherak’s request was blatantly inappropriate. Hawk Koch, who still didn’t know if he’d be voted in as AMPAS president, was 1st VP and openly expressed reservations. Koch told colleagues Sherak shouldn’t be doing this with a mere matter of weeks before the elections and complained to Sherak about it. The two men agreed with the Academy’s COO Ric Robertson to set a deadline for locking in a producer on the Wednesday before the AMPAS president and officers elections the very next Tuesday.
Immediately, Disney/ABC which airs the Oscars objected to Sherak’s choices because Fallon competes with Jimmy Kimmel’s show and is the soon-to-be-successor to Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show. “When the idea came up of Fallon, we made it clear that we were not happy about that. It was ridiculous to think we would want to give him that big platform,” a Disney insider tells me. “We had no objection to Lorne.” Technically, Disney/ABC can’t tell the Academy what to do since AMPAS controls the Oscars telecast. But the objection was an obstacle to Sherak’s plans, and ”he never got the deal done”, one of my sources says. Sherak’s search was called off within 6 days of the new AMPAS president’s election when he couldn’t meet the deadline. “Now the negotiations are dead,” I’m told. An Academy spokeswoman also is confirming that neither Fallon nor Michaels has been hired.
Nikki Finke noted last night that Hawk Koch was going to exit as co-president of the Producers Guild following his election as the new Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president, leaving the PGA in Mark Gordon’s hands for the next year. Here is today’s official announcement calling it a …