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DGA Screening Policy Sparks Concern As Awards Race Starts Heating Up

By | Monday October 29, 2012 @ 2:24pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Seven weeks from today Oscar nominating ballots will be in the hands of Academy voters. Seven weeks!  No wonder Academy campaigners already seem stressed and overheated about the race. With the Acad moving to electronic voting and shifting the nominating balloting period 10 days earlier than normal to the holiday corridor of Dec 17 thru Jan 3 this has become the most truncated race in memory, as least as far as those all important nominations are concerned. Noms will be announced on January 10th. That’s two weeks earlier than last year and the same day as the Broadcast Film Critics Association recently announced they would hand out their precursor awards this year and just three days before the Golden Globes. The Academy’s surprise move even forced the Director’s Guild Of America to move up the date of their own nominations announcement by two days to January 8th as everyone scrambles to maintain their piece of the pie and Oscar consultants try to figure out ways to get their movies seen before those ballots are in voters hands.

Speaking of the DGA, their normally non-controversial membership screening program is suddenly causing waves and concern among some awards campaign consultants who got the Guild’s November screening schedule and felt it was showing favoritism to one big contender over all the others. The Guild normally has one official screening for members in  LA, NY, SF, DC and Chicago for most movies. The all-important November schedule does list just one official Guild-sanctioned showing for such contenders as Hitchcock, The Life Of Pi, The Sessions, Silver Linings Playbook, Anna Karenina and Skyfall among other buzzed-titles, with all but the latter two featuring a Q&A with its director. Disney/Dreamworks’ Lincoln though has been given two prime back-to-back official screenings at 3 and 7 PM on Saturday November 10th featuring a Steven Spielberg Q&A following the first one. One studio rep with contenders this year said they had never heard of this happening before and at least one other called the DGA to question them about it. Yet another veteran consultant I contacted who has a film scheduled for November also said it was the first time they had heard of this DGA policy and was upset about the perceived favoritism. Read More »

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OSCAR: Last Minute Campaigning & Voting

Pete Hammond

If you haven’t filled out your Oscar nominating ballot yet, you have until 5 PM PT today to get it to the PriceWaterhouse Coopers offices in Los Angeles at 350 S. Grand, Suite 4900. There have been years where 400 to 500 ballots have been walked in the day they were due, according to one Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences consultant who as always plans to have someone count the messengers making deliveries. It’s all part of the last-minute rush to get as many votes as possible for their pictures in the hands of the accountants. Think of it as the same syndrome we see on April 15th when taxpayers wait until the very last moment to drop off their taxes off.

Even though ballots were coming due, it didn’t slow a slew of campaign events especially with everyone in town for this weekend’s non-stop award binge. It kicks off Friday with the AFI luncheon honoring the best in movies and TV in 2010, followed by Friday night’s 16th Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards which airs live on VH1 from the Hollywood Palladium starting at 6 PM PT. Of course, loads of parties lead up to the Golden Globes including Friday night’s CAA bash at the Soho House. Saturday AM brings a brunch at Boa honoring this year’s Independent Spirit Award nominees, followed by the BAFTA-LA  tea, then the LA Film Critics Awards banquet, and more parties galore honoring Golden Globe nominees including soirees thrown by Disney at the London Hotel and Paramount at Chateau … Read More »

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OSCAR: Campaigning At This Fevered Pitch All About Who You Know For Endorsements

Pete Hammond

Parties are rampant as usual at this point in awards season but the biggest new trend, or so it seems at least, is the number of publicized hosted screenings and endorsements for various contenders. There was a time when it was thought the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences officially frowned on having their members come out and “host” or introduce events aimed at getting attention for actors, directors etc who are in contention for Oscar nominations. But it doesn’t seem like that is keeping voting members of the Academy (or even the Board) from playing favorites or giving hints on where their sentiments lie at this crucial time in Oscar campaigning before the January 25th nominations. With the races so tight, Oscar consultants are feeling the need to do anything they can now to get a leg up on the competition. So having highly visible support from previous Oscar winners or prominent Academy members is one way to do it, or so the thinking goes. Although one person who works in this game told me they wouldn’t be surprised if the Academy started cracking down on the practice again since it seems to be mushrooming – at least in the press.

Kathryn Bigelow, last year’s Best Director winner and a new member of the Academy’s Board of Governors, was out and about this week at private screenings virtually endorsing director Debra Granik and her film Winter’s Bone. At a Roadside Attractions … Read More »

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