I’m going to continue my relationship with the Academy, however, as a consultant focusing on the show, award rules and categories.
EXCLUSIVE: Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences COO Ric Robertson is taking what’s being internally called a “sabbatical” from June through August. I have learned this is an unusual paid leave even though the Academy is complaining about a financial crunch. Normally, its staff are restricted to 30 days of unpaid leave (and then only with approval). “He has worked here for 31 years. Doesn’t he deserve it?” an insider told me. “He didn’t tell us what he’ll do. Maybe work on his golf game.” Robertson’s upcoming sabbatical has prompted AMPAS staff to wonder whether he will be pushed out and/or look for another job. In April 2011, he was passed over for Bruce Davis’ executive directorship and now reports to AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson, who was brought in over him. Insiders tell me that Robertson was primarily responsible for this year’s online voting debacle, which Hudson dumped in his lap when the Academy finally decided to implement Oscar balloting electronically — something Robertson and Davis resisted for prior years. (Grumbles one insider: “Dawn gives him anything messy that she doesn’t want to deal with or anything that means a lot of real work or anything that has a potential for failure, like the electronic voting.”)
With the 85th Oscars in the history books The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has gotten back to doing what it does the other 364 days of the year. The organization held its annual lunch Monday honoring the $25,000 …
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ brave new steps into electronic voting for Oscars after 84 years of the snail mail routine is proceeding well. Most members seem to be getting the message that they must register to vote, as well as pay dues, before they will be eligible when balloting officially begins on December 17th and runs through January 3rd. That is 10 days earlier than last year and smack in the middle of the holiday season so naturally the Academy was a little nervous when they decided to launch this process four months ago. But I’m told things are going smoothly and they have their fingers crossed it will continue that way. “The response has been really favorable. We are very encouraged,” Academy COO Ric Robertson told me this afternoon, adding that most members are going for the electronic voting option but that there have been a “small number” of requests so far for the old fashioned paper ballots. One member though who is working on a major Best Picture contender told me they have heard from numerous other members saying they were requesting a paper ballot (“although they were all 60 and above”). The Academy will provide paper ballots as long as Oscar voters make that request by this Friday November 30. If members desiring traditional paper ballots have not registered to vote and made their request by Friday, they will not be able to participate using that method. Think of it as registering to vote for President. After the cut-off date you’re out of luck. Electronic voting registration however will remain open throughout the entire process ending on January 3rd so there’s another clear advantage for the onliners.