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Oscars: Ballots Due In Less Than 48 Hours As Contenders Keep The Campaigns Hot And Voters Try To Keep Pace

Pete Hammond

The clock is ticking, Academy members.

As the deadline looms for the close of Oscar nomination polls at 5 PM Wednesday, I  have talked to a largeOscar_Logo110922004651__120227115551 number of potential voters who are still not even close to seeing the key movies, whether in theaters or making a dent in that pile of screeners at home. A more limited voting pool could lead to a surprising outcome, and this year it seems there are many members struggling to check out all the contenders. Last year then-Academy President Hawk Koch boasted to me on the day of nominations that with the help of the (then-controversial) new online voting system, turnout was the largest in recent Academy history. Hoping not to fall off the pace, new President Cheryl Boone Isaacs has been sending recorded messages urging voters who haven’t marked their ballots yet to get them in before the deadline.

Related: OSCARS: Ballots Are Out And The Race Is On, But Will Voters See The Movies In Time?
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Oscar Voter Warning: Friday Is Firm And Final Deadline To Request Paper Ballot

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 3:39pm PST
Pete Hammond

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 membership@oscars.org.

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. Read More »

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Oscars Move Closer To Voting Change — Emmys Resist; Can Hackers Be Kept Out?

Pete Hammond

Oscar’s move to online voting is off and running. The Academy confirms that a very impressive 83% of the membership had returned cards requesting their email address by the deadline date of June 30, but an Academy spokesperson assured me “it’s an ongoing process,” so if you were one of the stragglers, get that email to the membership department.

This is a first step in a very methodical and careful move to online voting for the Academy just as most other guilds and voting orgs have already done. And it is also a first step toward potentially moving the Oscar telecast up earlier in the season to the end of January or beginning of February. An expedited voting process would certainly help make that difficult prospect easier to pull off.

The Academy sent out the request to members in May, and considering the advanced age of some AMPAS voters, the response is encouraging. Common wisdom is that older voters might be the most resistant to change, but officials are happy with the way potential online voting is being embraced so far.

As I wrote recently, there was also some concern about A-listers not providing their direct emails, which is a problem because the Academy does not want to put an electronic ballot in the hands of Brad Pitt’s or Barbra Streisand’s assistants (even though it’s no secret that there are some assistants who have been known to help their boss by filling out the snail-mail ballots anyway). Academy president Tom Sherak tells me confidently that even that part of the process is now “going fairly well” too.

Sherak says the Academy hopes to have a firm that can conduct online voting in place by this month and it is actively involved now in the selection procedure for that. “We’re getting closer” is how Sherak puts it, but he emphasized to me that online voting for Oscars will not be ready for next year’s 84th Academy Awards. He says they are taking a very methodical approach and after securing a firm will begin testing by putting some kind of vote online while still using paper ballots (which will be the only ones that count in the test case) to see how the online method is initially received. Then they will probably test it again leading to its first official use, perhaps in the selection of governors for the board next May. ”It will not be implemented until we’re sure it works, but all of this preparation is necessary so we can move it methodically into a proper voting cycle for the Oscars,” he says. Sherak adds they are aware that even though they want to move this process online, some members don’t have emails. The Academy will be providing an alternative for those concerned voters (likely the old standby paper ballot) just as the guilds do now.

“We will give all our members an opportunity to be part of something they have always been a part of,” Sherak says, meaning no one among the approximate 6,000 voting members are about to be disenfranchised by new technology creeping into the notoriously slow-to-change Academy.

Of course, many of those members already have experience voting online in their various guild contests since most Academy voters are also likely guild voters. The bigger problem here I think for the Academy is that unlike those contests, Oscar, being the highest-profile awards show of them all, may provide an irresisible target for hackers — and the Academy knows it. A key reason they are being careful about diving into online voting is the danger of having its air-tight voting system compromised. After all, WikiLeaks proves no one, even the most closed doors of the U.S. government, are immune to a cyber violation of its top secrets. Read More »

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Oscar Ballots Due January 14

Mike Fleming

Beverly Hills, CA — The 5,755 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences must return their completed Oscar nominations ballots to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, January 14. Ballots received after that deadline will not be counted.

In the majority of the categories, PwC will tabulate the ballots using the preferential voting system.

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 at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

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Oscar Nominations Ballots Mailing Today

Just a reminder that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences officially mails out its nominations ballots today to 5,755 voters for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Those ballots have to be returned to PricewaterhouseCoopers when the polls close on January 14th at 5 PM PT. Ballots received after that deadline will not be counted. That’s so the Academy can announce its nominations live on January 25th and then telecast the Oscars live on February 27th. Nomination and final Awards ballots are tabulated by PricewaterhouseCoopers to ensure that all aspects of the balloting process are conducted with fairness and accuracy. Prior to mailing, the PricewaterhouseCoopers staff administers a thorough verification process to ensure that there are no duplicate ballots and that none are missing. In addition to being counted and sorted, the ballots are numbered to guarantee that each one is addressed to the appropriate Academy voter.

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OSCAR: Critics Keep Friending ‘The Social Network’ While Picture Rivals Keep Fretting

Pete Hammond

In an era where review aggregation sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic have erased individuality and replaced it with a percentage statistic that can be quoted  more easily than the words of Roger Ebert or other name reviewers, we are seeing a pack mentality emerge with critics groups come awards time. No matter which region of the country, they all seem to be moving in step with each other for the most part. For David Fincher this has to be especially sweet. Just two years ago he sat on the sidelines as nearly all these groups lined up for Danny Boyle and Slumdog Millionaire against his highly touted The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. When Oscar time rolled around there was no question which film would win. Now it’s hard to find a single critics group that doesn’t want to friend The Social Network — and rivals in this still very fluid race are feeling the pain, no doubt trying to figure out how to counter it all before it’s too late.

While most Hollywood offices are shutting down for the holidays, Sony Pictures’ awards campaign crew are working overtime for contender The Social Network in advance of next week’s mailing of Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences nomination ballots. That’s why director Fincher, who was supposed to be on a 2-week holiday break from shooting the studio’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in Sweden, actually isn’t getting much of a break at all. Last week, he was in … Read More »

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