When I ran into Ben Affleck at the Golden Globes on Sunday he told me he thinks this wide open Oscar race won’t really come into focus until the Producers Guild names its choice for Best Picture on January 19th at the Beverly Hilton. Of course Affleck (with George Clooney and Grant Heslov) won at the PGA last year for Argo and it went on to take the Oscar for Best Picture as well. Now about to celebrate their 25th anniversary the PGA awards have become one of the most reliable bellwethers of eventual Oscar glory. In fact the last six films in a row that have taken the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures has gone on to win the Academy’s Best Picture prize too, a list that in addition to Argo includes The Artist, The King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire and No Country For Old Men. In fact it was the PGA that turned the race completely around for The Hurt Locker by unexpectedly choosing it over Avatar and picking King’s Speech over The Social Network, the favorite until that point. The PGA turned both races on a dime. In fact since handing out awards a quarter century ago the Guild has had a strong overall track record in matching Oscar’s sentiments. Perhaps one reason is they work very closely with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in vetting producers credits and determining which producers are eligible not only for the PGA award, but also the Oscar, although the final decision on the latter is up to the Academy’s producers branch.
Producers Guild Leaders On Their Banner Year, The p.g.a. Mark, Sunday’s Big 25th Anniversary Awards, And Why Scorsese And DiCaprio Didn’t Make The Cut
UPDATE: Cheryl Boone Isaacs Elected President Of Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences; Board Officers Include John Lasseter & Dick Cook
UPDATE, 8:52 PM: The Academy tonight has also elected Disney/Pixar’s John Lasseter as First VP, the position Cheryl Boone Isaacs held before being voted president earlier in the night by the Board of Governors. Jeffrey Kurland and Leonard Engelman were elected to VP posts, Dick Cook was elected treasurer, and Phil Robinson was elected secretary. Officers serve one-year terms, with a maximum of four consecutive years in any one office. AMPAS’ full release is below the original break.
PREVIOUS, BREAKING, 6:52 PM… The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences‘ newly selected Board of Governors just made history: it has elected marketing executive Cheryl Boone Isaacs as the new president. She becomes the first black president of AMPAS and only the third woman elected to the post. The Academy sent word via its Twitter feed; Governors are still voting on the rest of their officers and will send the full results of those elections soon. Boone Isaacs, a marketing consultant, has the most AMPAS experience: she currently serves as First VP but has also been VP, Treasurer, Secretary, President of the Academy Foundation, and last year producer of the Governors Awards. She has worked at New Line and Paramount. She replaces current one-term president Hawk Koch, who served nine years on the board but is prohibited from running again as governors are termed out after 9 years. Though there was no formal campaigning for the job, it was clear this election came down to a pair of Public Relations branch candidates: Boone Isaacs and Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chairman Rob Friedman. Both were in the running last year with Koch before he got the nod. Neither admitted to being a candidate this week, but Boone Isaacs told Deadline’s Pete Hammond that she would be beyond honored to take on the presidency of the 86-year-old AMPAS. “I would be thrilled and probably react like a schoolgirl if it happened,” she joked.
Here’s the official release:
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.
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.
Today’s announcement revealing the results of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences‘ annual Board Of Governors election was a historic one, at least as far as women and their power position in the organization is concerned. That is something that makes outgoing President Hawk Koch very happy. He particularly praised the increased numbers of female members when we spoke earlier today. “We have the first female Executive branch Governor since Mary Pickford (a founding member in 1927) in (Sony Co-Chairman) Amy Pascal. Amy is only the second female executive (branch governor) in our history and I want to tell you that we are all excited about that. That’s big. We never had more than 9 women before , now we have 14. 30% of our Board is now women. It really reflects our industry, and I think members have been hearing the mantra that Dawn (CEO Hudson) and I have been talking about. Equal representation. We should be reflecting the industry,” he said adding he thinks the makeup of the new Board is anything but status quo and should continue all the forward movement. Certainly with 14 women on the Board it will be harder for critics to continue calling the Academy “an old white man’s club”. Pascal replaces Fox Chairman Jim Gianopulos, who was termed out after nine years on the Board. One major studio head stepping in for another. Koch said he and Hudson had been talking to Pascal for a long while and she was “very excited to run” but he noted that the Academy leadership does not “recruit” industry heavyweights. It is up to them to jump into the election.
Listen to (and share) episode 33 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about whether one of Hawk Koch’s last initiatives, making the Motion Picture Academy membership more diverse, may have the most long-term impact; weekend events honoring bygone stars Dolores Hart and Annette Funicello; and the big movie debuts for the long holiday weekend, including The Lone Ranger, Despicable Me 2 and The Way, Way Back.
With 276 membership invitations going out today — exactly 100 more new members than were invited to join the elite 6000+ organization last year — the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has clearly begun to live up to its goal of being more inclusive. And not only in increasing its numbers but also in the group’s stated goal of increasing diversity. One person I spoke with today who was involved in the selection of new members from their branch was worried that the Academy might be drifting into affirmative action territory and cutting out more deserving applicants. But outgoing Academy president Hawk Koch was thrilled with the results of the initiative, which was approved at a Board of Governors meeting last October. It’s one he personally lobbied for with every peer group as they considered applications for membership to their individual branches.
When we spoke this morning, Koch said it was “mission accomplished” but added that along with diversity he emphasized qualifications. “I did say along with that our criteria doesn’t change: They still have to be the best of the best, just be aware of diversity”, he said. “I am very excited that we have such a talented and diverse group of artists and filmmakers. It’s like everything else I have tried to do this year. We are moving forward. We are more inclusive and are cultivating the next generation, and that’s what we need to do”.
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.