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

Pete Hammond

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. Read More »

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Banned Iranian Filmmaker Jafar Panahi Thanks Academy For Its Invitation To Join

Jafar Panahi was among the 276 people invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on June 28. The award-winning director of such films as The White Balloon, The Circle, … Read More »

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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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Did Oscars Punish ’2016 Obama’s America’? Producer Says Yes, Academy Says No

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences recently opened up first-round Oscar voting to the entire documentary branch and abandoned the previous system of allowing a small committee to determine the short list of eligible films. This radically curtails the influence of the documentary branch governors. Interesting, because last month an accusation of political bias in the documentary branch was lodged against the Academy – specifically, in an April 16th letter from Gerald Molen who produced the controversial right-wing documentary 2016: Obama’s America (as well as the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List). Molen’s missive was sent to Academy President Hawk Koch and documentary branch governors Rob Epstein, Michael Apted, and Michael Moore who is also a member of the AMPAS Board Of Governors. Molen questions why 2016: Obama’s America was ignored for an Academy Award nomination even though it was last year’s second highest grossing political documentary (behind only Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.) Molen wrote:

“I find myself wondering if it was excluded for ‘other’ reasons…”

“I have tremendous respect for Michael Apted as a creative and talented filmmaker but putting him with Rob Epstein and Michael Moore as the gatekeepers in charge of which films get nominated in the documentary category seems patently absurd…

“While Mr. Moore is a distinguished filmmaker, he holds a strong partisan view representing what Gallup tells us is only 21 percent of the population. Even if he were able to keep his personal philosophy out of the equation, you can certainly understand why the larger American constituency (pegged at 40%) would question the exclusion of a well-made and popular film that fails to reflect his views. Even if only in perception, this assumed bias will serve (in my opinion) only to injure the Academy…

“All up and coming filmmakers deserve to be recognized for their creative sensibilities and should not be punished because the messages of their films fail to fit the dogma of what some believe is politically correct.”

Hawk replied on behalf of the Academy: Read More »

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UPDATE: Oscar Nominated Palestinian Director Tells His Version Of LAX Detention

By | Wednesday February 20, 2013 @ 12:38pm PST

UPDATE, 12:38 PM: Hours after being detained at LAX last night, Oscar nominated director Emad Burnat has now spoken out for himself about what happened. “Ours was a very minor example of what my people face every day,” the Palestinian filmmaker says of his and his family’s experience with U.S. Customs officials Tuesday night. Fellow documentarian Michael Moore took to Twitter in protest last night after the director texted him when officials took the filmmaker, his wife and son into a holding area to find out why they were entering the country. Burnat, who is up for an Academy Award this weekend for his co-directing efforts on 5 Broken Cameras, was threatened with being refused entry but eventually allowed into the U.S. after being held for an hour and a half. Read his full statement on what happened here.

Los Angeles, CA – February 20, 2013 - “Last night, on my way from Turkey to Los Angeles, CA, my family and I were held at US immigration for about an hour and questioned about the purpose of my visit to the United States. Immigration officials asked for proof that I was nominated for an Academy Award® for the documentary 5 BROKEN CAMERAS and they told me that if I couldn’t prove the reason for my visit, my wife Soraya, my son Gibreel and I would be sent back to Turkey on the same day. After 40 minutes of questions and answers, Gibreel asked me why we were still waiting in that small room. I simply told him the truth: ‘Maybe we’ll have to go back.’ I could see his heart sink. Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout he West Bank. There are more than 500 Israeli checkpoints, roadblocks, and other barriers to movement across our land, and not a single one of us has been spared the experience that my family and I experienced yesterday. Ours was a very minor example of what my people face every day.” — Emad Burnat, Co-Director of 5 BROKEN CAMERAS

PREVIOUSLY, 10:01 PM: Michael Moore took on U.S. Customs last night and helped get a fellow filmmaker into the country for Sunday’s Oscars. The Academy Award winning documentarian went on a Twitter tirade late Tuesday as Oscar nominated director Emad Burnat was detained along with his family by officials when he arrived at LAX from Turkey. “This all just happened tonight, a few hours ago. He was certain they were going to deport him. But not if I had anything to do about it,” Moore wrote. This is not the first time Burnat, the co-director of the Sundance winning doc 5 Broken Cameras, has been in America. This time he was arriving for this weekend’s Oscar ceremony when customs hauled him, his wife and their 8-year old son in for questioning on why he was in the States. “Although he produced the Oscar invite nominees receive, that wasn’t good enough & he was threatened with being sent back to Palestine,” tweeted Moore, who is a governor on the Academy’s Documentary branch. Burnet had texted Moore soon after being placed in the holding area. “I called Academy officials who called lawyers. I told Emad to give the officers my phone # and to say my name a couple of times,” added Moore last night. “After 1.5 hrs, they decided to release him & his family & told him he could stay in LA for the week & go to the Oscars. Welcome to America,” the Fahrenheit 911 director said. Read More »

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Michael Moore Weighs In On ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

By | Friday January 25, 2013 @ 11:12am PST

Michael Moore has never had a problem weighing in on controversial, hot-button political issues, and he gave his 2 cents about Zero Dark Thirty to Time magazine  — the mag one that features director Kathryn Bigelow on the cover. An abbreviated version of his take appeared on Time.com, but Moore posted the full piece on his Facebook page:

In Defense of Zero Dark Thirty

There comes a point about two-thirds of the way through ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ where it is clear something, or someone, on high has changed. The mood at the CIA has shifted, become subdued. It appears that the torture-approving guy who’s been president for the past eight years seems to be, well, gone. And, just as a fish rots from the head down, the stench also seems to be gone. Word then comes down that – get this! – we can’t torture any more! The CIA agents seem a bit disgruntled and dumbfounded. I mean, torture has worked soooo well these past eight years! Why can’t we torture any more???

The answer is provided on a TV screen in the background where you see a black man (who apparently is the new president) and he’s saying, in plain English, that America’s torturing days are over, done, finished. There’s an “aw, shit” look on their faces and then some new boss comes into the meeting room, slams his fist on the table and says, essentially, you’ve had eight years to find bin Laden – and all you’ve got to show for it are a bunch of photos of naked Arab men peeing on themselves and wearing dog collars and black hoods. Well, he shouts, those days are over! There’s no secret group up on the top floor looking for bin Laden, you’re it, and goddammit do your job and find him.

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OSCARS: Will Docu Finalists Stop The Bleeding In This Battered Branch?

By | Tuesday December 4, 2012 @ 1:43am PST
Pete Hammond

The release of the documentary short list of 15 finalists is seen as a litmus test for new doc branch rules that opened up the Oscars process to the entire peer group and, in theory, would make … Read More »

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Michael Moore Challenges Piers Morgan On CNN’s Hurricane Sandy Coverage

By | Thursday November 1, 2012 @ 11:54am PDT

Michael Moore took on Piers Morgan last night over the media’s coverage, specifically CNN, of Hurricane Sandy, saying there needed to be fewer reporters standing outside in drenching rain and wind and more news of what was actually going on. Morgan disagreed, saying the images showed how … Read More »

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Oscar “Disaster”: Controversy Erupts Over New Documentary Feature Rules As Michael Moore Calls For Changes

Pete Hammond

“Disaster” is the word an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences executive used in describing for me the current state of this year’s competition for Best Documentary Feature. Yes, there’s trouble in River City and this is after new rules were put into place in January that were meant to democratize the process. Every year it seems one branch or another in the Academy creates major controversies, and this year it is again the Documentary branch’s turn in the hot seat. And we haven’t even seen the list of nominees yet, so fasten your seat belts.

Those new rules, as first reported on Deadline at the time, changed the nomination voting process. Instead of several groups of small mysterious committees each watching a set number of films, the whole documentary branch now has the opportunity to see and vote on every eligible film. Then final voting is opened up to the entire Academy to be pick a winner — just as they do on Best Picture and other categories. The new rules also attempted to trim the number of entries, specifically targeting films not really meant for theatrical release by requiring a one-week run in New York and Los Angeles as well as a review in either the New York Times or Los Angeles Times. This was seen as a way to discourage TV documentaries or vanity projects from getting into a race designed for movies that are truly meant for theaters first. HBO was a culprit, and now others are jumping into the docu world including today’s announcement regarding a new documentary unit from CNN.

The new system hasn’t worked out the way its main architect, Oscar-winning documentarian and Academy Doc branch Governor Michael Moore, envisioned, and he is the first to agree at least part of it has been a disaster. “I told them (the Academy) to use that word”, he said. “It’s a miserable failure.” Moore, who serves with co-governors Rob Epstein and Michael Apted, said this after branch members, who had already received a steady but manageable stream of movies to view on DVD through the first 9 months of the year, suddenly had about 80 new titles dumped on their doorsteps with only a month to go before ballots for the first wave of voting are due. Read More »

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Anti-Obama Pic #2 Political Documentary: Now Bigger Than 3 Michael Moore Movies

By | Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 3:07am PDT

It’s a heated contest between conservatives vs liberals in the political documentary genre, too. 2016 Obama’s America grossed $26.2M by end of today (give or take some bucks) and passed 4 of Michael Moore’s five political documentaries to become the #2 all-time biggest. Only Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, his highly critical examination of the first term of President George W Bush, retains the #1 position with $119.1M. It’s extremely unlikely that 2016 Obama’s America will make even half that. But it now has made more money (not adjusted for inflation or higher ticket prices) than Moore’s Sicko (2007 – $24.5M), Oscar-winner Bowling For Columbine (2002 – $21.5M), and Capitalism: A Love Story (2009 – $14.3M). The right-wing doc 2016 Obama’s America is produced by Gerald R. Molen who in fact credits “learning some lessons” from Moore. “When he released Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004 ahead of the election, it sparked intense debate.” 2016 Obama’s America also has passed the box office for Al Gore’s and Davis Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth (2006 – $24.1M) and is the #1 biggest-grossing conservative political docu ever (besting Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’s $7.7M). Read More »

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NBCU Appoints New President, GM Of Universal Studios Operations

By | Friday July 27, 2012 @ 2:39pm PDT

LOS ANGELES – July 27, 2012 — NBCUniversal announced today that Michael Moore will become President and General Manager, Universal Studios Operations beginning September 17, 2012. In this role, Michael will be part of NBCUniversal’s Operations and Technical Services organization and will oversee all the operations of Universal City Studios, including Production Services, Sound Services, Facilities, and Marketing. Michael will report jointly to Ron Meyer, President and Chief Operating Officer, Universal Studios and John Wallace, President, Operations & Technical Services, NBCUniversal. This position is currently held by Dave Beanes who is retiring at the end of the year after 42 years in the industry and 17 years with the company.

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Weinsteins Issue Statement On ‘Fahrenheit 9/11′ Lawsuit Settlement With Michael Moore

By | Thursday February 16, 2012 @ 6:34pm PST

A lawsuit between filmmaker Michael Moore and the Weinsteins over a revenue dispute related to the 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which shattered nonfiction box office records, has been settled out of court. In a statement issued by The Weinstein Company, the brothers acknowledged they have settled with Moore and held out the possibility of working with the controversial director in the future:

“Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s Fellowship Adventure Group and Michael Moore have amicably settled the lawsuit involving an accounting dispute on Fahrenheit 9/11, and they look forward to the prospect of working together on future projects.” Read More »

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Hammond: From ‘Tinker Tailor’ To Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt, Oscar Talk Is Everywhere

Pete Hammond

‘Tis the season. Studios and distributors are pulling out all the stops to bring attention to their big awards contenders. The drumbeat has been so loud since Thanksgiving that it’s not uncommon to be invited to 4 or 5 sceenings, parties, events, and Q&As … Read More »

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GOP Candidates Seeking Hollywood Help

UPDATE: TV and radio political pundit Dennis Miller on Monday announced that he’s endorsing Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and will headline a political fundraiser in Los Angeles. Miller also is making donations to the campaign and offering to write for … Read More »

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Keith Olbermann Debuts On Gore’s Current: Same Show But Anti-Big Business Slant

If you used to watch Countdown With Keith Olbermann when it was on MSNBC, then you have a pretty good idea what it’s like on Current based on the first show tonight. The theme music from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the “Worst … Read More »

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Michael Moore vs Movie Accounting: Sues Weinsteins For More 9/11 Movie Profits After Already Pocketing $19.8 Million; Yes Or No – “He Redefines The Term Greedy”?

By | Monday February 7, 2011 @ 7:08pm PST

UPDATED & EXPANDED: At least multimillionaire Michael Moore didn’t have the chutzpah to sue Harvey and Bob Weinstein in a court in New York City where they’re based. Because I bet there’s no way a jury in the urban center that suffered through the attack on the World Trade Center twin towers would give Moore a penny. Today, Moore filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud arising out of his audit of his controversial war on terror documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore is seeking at least $2.7 million from the Weinstein Brothers in what he claims are “rerouted” and unpaid profits. Why is it I think Harvey has finally met his match in Michael, and vice versa? The Weinsteins have already paid Moore $19.8 million for his backend profit participation in the movie. Further, the bros are bitching that they were blindsided by the lawsuit: the Weinsteins for the past six months offered to go to mediation on what their reps are calling a “standard accounting dispute” – isn’t that what studios and producers always claim? — but Moore kept rejecting that. Even more bizarrely, as recently as last week, the Weinsteins were chatting with Moore about doing another movie together because insiders tell me that  Moore next wants to direct a fictional feature film. (Of course, some partisan circles found the Fahrenheit 9/11 documentary to be claptrap exploitation while others saw it as courageous exposure. But I digress.)

Now the Weinsteins will have their Hollywood pitbull litigator Bert Fields defend them against Moore. ”He made $19.8 million in backend profit on a 9/11 movie. And now he wants to beat up the Weinsteins for another couple of million dollars,” an insider complains to me tonight. “He redefines the term greedy for someone in this business who claims to be a Mr. Poverty indie documentary filmmaker.”

But Moore’s attorney Larry Stein’s statement noted this is the first time Michael has ever sued anyone in his 20-year career as a filmmaker. “That should be some indication about how serious this is,” Stein said. “An independent auditor came in and discovered that the Weinsteins had re-routed at least $2.7 million dollars that belonged to Michael Moore from Fahrenheit 9/11… It’s very sad it had to come to this. Michael believes the Weinsteins have been a force for good when it comes to championing independent film — but that does not give them the right to violate a contract and take money that isn’t theirs.”

Trust me, Hollywood accounting tricks are terrible and widespread and lousy for filmmakers who routinely get cheated. And hard to figure out who’s more unpopular: Moore in Red States, or the Weinsteins in Hollywood. I last year opined that people do business with the Weinsteins’ companies often do so at their peril and that my past reporting shows that almost everyone who trusts them lives to regret it, especially the moviemakers who believe Harv’s big promises and then come running to Deadline to complain.

[To anybody who thinks I’ve gone soft on the Weinsteins, you must be new Deadline readers. The fact is that no one wrote harsher articles about the indie movie studio’s 2009 meltdown: Read More »

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Michael Moore Calls On Democrats To Run Tom Hanks And Oprah As Candidates And Use Hollywood To Help Fashion A Message

Michael Moore today called for Democrats to run “beloved… smart… good” Hollywood stars like Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey as candidates and for the Obama administration to use Hollywood to “help fashion” its message. In an MSNBC interview with host … 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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