994873_10151647727306406_181404145_nFor the first time ever, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences has elected an African American woman as their President. Before they did so, Cheryl Boone Isaacs already stood out as a member of the Board of Governors.

Part of the reason the Academy has been so utterly and completely white for the past 86 years is that their demographic matches their tastes. There have been years where diversity broke through — 1985, for instance, when Steven Spielberg used his box office clout to bring The Color Purple to the big screen. He was shamed for it and the film went 11/0 at the Oscars. There wouldn’t be another Best Picture contender with an all-black cast until Precious, nearly twenty years later.

The other significant moment in recent Academy history was Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing being overlooked the same year Driving Miss Daisy made Academy history and now joins Argo as one of the few films to win without a director’s nomination. But the Academy has had its moments of redemption. Halle Berry and Denzel Washington winning the same year seemed, at the time, like maybe things had really and finally changed for black actors at the Oscars. But to date, Berry is still the only black actress who has ever won in lead. In 86 years.  Viola Davis came close two years ago by winning the SAG, among others, but lost to Meryl Streep, who collected her long overdue third Oscar.  To date, there have been ten black actresses nominated for lead, compared to 19 for black actors.  The supporting categories, especially for women, feature the most wins (5/15).

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today a $1 million gift from director Brett Ratner to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

“Brett has a sincere love of movies and film history, and we are excited to welcome him to our group of supporters,” said Bill Kramer, the museum’s managing director of development.

The Academy launched the Museum’s capital campaign in 2012 and has already secured more than half of the campaign’s $300 million goal in commitments. The campaign is chaired by Bob Iger and co-chaired by Annette Bening and Tom Hanks.

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(Press release) BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved rules for the 86th Oscars®. The most significant change affects the Animated Feature Film category.

In this category, the new rule designates a maximum of two award recipients, one of whom must have a producer credit. The director and/or key creative individual shall continue to be a recipient, and in the circumstance of a two-person team with shared and equal director credit, a third statuette may be awarded.

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The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

The changes they make seem to impact only the documentary, short and foreign language films. I’m not sure why they don’t require that voters see all of the nominated films in EVERY category to vote. The press release also says they had 90% voter turnout last year. Academy will send out screeners for foreign, doc and shorts.

For the first time, the entire voting membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will automatically be eligible to vote in all 24 Oscar categories, Academy President Hawk Koch announced today at a meeting of the Academy’s members. The Academy’s Board of Governors approved a plan that will allow members to see the nominated documentary shorts and foreign language films either at a theatrical screening or on DVD.

Prior to the final round of voting, the Academy will provide members with DVDs of the nominated films in five categories: Foreign Language Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Animated Short Film, and Live Action Short Film. In previous years, members had been required to see the nominated films in a theater in order to vote.

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Take a good long look at that sign. Those proportions are correct.

But things are looking up.

The LA Times’ Nicole Sperling breaks the news that the Academy might “relax” its cap on membership in hopes of adding a more diverse slate to their membership.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is aiming to expand and diversify its ranks by relaxing a cap on membership that has restricted new admittances since 2004.

The academy has about 5,800 voting members; in recent years, fewer than 200 people have been invited to join annually. The number of openings is essentially determined by how many members have retired, resigned or died. In the last decade, the overall ranks have not grown by more than 30 members a year.

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©Renzo Piano Building Workshop/©Studio Pali Fekete architects

Quite an ambitious project. Soon this will be one of the must-sees in the city. I’m guessing soon we will never be able to imagine a Los Angeles without it.

– More than 30,000 square feet of flexible exhibition galleries – A 15,000-square-foot landscaped public piazza that will serve as a gathering space for visitors and connect the museum with the LACMA campus – Special event spaces for groups of up to 1,000 people and a rooftop terrace with views of the Los Angeles basin and Hollywood hills



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You know that big project the Academy is involved in? It just got a whopper of donation, $25 mil from David Geffen, so he gets the name. It will be known as the David Geffen theater.  Is it crass for me to say that I hope I live long enough to see this thing thing built?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that it has received a $25 million commitment from The David Geffen Foundation for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The gift was made as part of the Academy Museum’s $300 million capital campaign and is the largest commitment received to date. In recognition of this gift, the Academy will name the Museum’s premiere-sized theater The David Geffen Theater.

“David’s support of this project is transformative,” said Academy Museum Campaign Chair Bob Iger. “It takes a large and diverse group of supporters to build a project on the scale of the Academy Museum. David joins an esteemed group of individuals, companies, and foundations who are leading the charge.” The Academy launched the Museum’s capital campaign in 2012 and has already secured more than half of the campaign’s goal in commitments. The campaign is co-chaired by Annette Bening and Tom Hanks.

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The New York Times revealed that Dawn Hudson is asking Academy members for a group discussion on what they think the future of the Academy might be.

Here are Awards Daily’s quick and dirty suggestions for topics members might bring up (and quickly get shot down by the status quo, but here’s to trying).

1. Create a new category for effects-driven film. The same way they have a category for animated feature, an effects-driven film category would have been a fun way to include films like The Avengers, Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises from last year, for starters. They can’t be bothered to actually nominate these films (imagine how many Academy members would choose any of these as their number 1 pick? Maybe Skyfall). Sure, it’s a sticky area and there might be crossover, as there is with animated and foreign on occasion. The effects industry controls the majority of films released for audiences now. The Academy honors them in one category: Best Visual Effects. That’s not nearly enough. With advances in motion capture and 3-D coming up, they must embrace the future.

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Oscar winning Fay Kanin, former writer and producer, died today. She was 95.

Kanin had been one of the people blacklisted by the HUAC (that’s really how you know she was cool).

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy is deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved former president and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Fay Kanin.

She was committed to the Academy’s preservation work and instrumental in expanding our public programming. A tireless mentor and inspiration to countless filmmakers, Fay’s passion for film continues to inspire us daily.

Our prayers and condolences go out to her loved ones.


Remember last year’s date scramble? I certainly do. For the first time in Oscar history the Academy had to turn in their ballots before the DGA announced. The DGA was the only really significant group that didn’t announce, though the Producers Guild announced one day before ballots were turned in.

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From Vintage Los Angeles:

Academy Theater in Inglewood, Calif – 1940
Photo by Julius Shulman

Opened on November 7, 1939 and designed by architect S. Charles Lee, the Academy Theater, a classic Art Moderne style structure, was originally designed to house the Academy Awards.

Sadly, however, the Academy Theater never did host the ‘Oscars’, but it was often the location of film premieres and served as a major suburban theater for the Fox West Coast Theatres chain.

The Academy Theater continued to show movies until 1976, when it became a church and that is how it remains today!!

I like it that they have a female cinematographer on here.

A new video will debut each week – the participants listed after the cut. This is a joint project with Entertainment Weekly.

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Well, as Iggy Pop would say, it will all be over soon.  There are so many weird surprises that could take place tomorrow since all of the nominations came after Oscar ballots were turned in. BAFTA did their voting completely differently this year and for the first time ever we’re making our nominations for the editing category without the Ace Eddie nominations!

Honestly, though, this year? It’s one long No Guts, No Glory since none of us has a clue how this will turn out. But that’s what kind of great about it. We’re all going to forgive one another if any stupid mistakes are made.  It’s been a great year, dear readers.

To that end, please pick three potential upsets.  Here are mine:

1. Benh Zeitlin for Best Director
2. One major film will be left off the Best Picture nominees list that will horrify all involved. 

2. The Impossible gets a surprise Best Picture nomination
3. There will only be five Best Picture nominees.

Your turn.

Anne Thompson reports that the AMPAS have agreed to extend the ballot deadline by one day so instead of those ballots getting in by January 3rd, they are now going to have to be in by January 4th.

“By extending the voting deadline we are providing every opportunity available to make the transition to online balloting as smooth as possible,” said Ric Robertson, Academy COO.  “We’re grateful to our global membership for joining us in this process.”In order to accommodate the extension and maintain security, the online voting system will be closed for two hours only (5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. PT) on Thursday, January 3. The system will re-open at 7 p.m. PT on January 3 and remain available to members until 5:00 p.m. PT January 4.

This is the first year the Academy is providing its membership the opportunity to vote online. Several voting resources are available to members, including assisted voting stations in Los Angeles, New York and London, and a 24-hour support call center.

Chicken Little 3[1]

The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, if you’ve ever had any dealings with them, are a well oiled machine. I have never, in fact, dealt with a more cleanly run, professionally managed company. Never, in my life.  When I attended the Oscars as a press person every tiny detail was covered, top to bottom, A to Z.  So I read with great interest the “sky is falling” stories about voter problems with online ballots. So I went ahead and called the Academy. You have the option of immediately reaching a guy who very nicely answered the phone. He told me that he was there to field calls from any member with a problem. Moreover, they have a whole call center set up just to deal with voter issues. Trust me, these guys you could trust to deliver Kate Middleton’s royal charge.  So, don’t worry, votes are well in hand. Members can simply make a phone call and have tech support help them through it.

Ballots are being sent out to all 5,856 voting members of the Academy.

As usual, this time of year, we open up the comments to readers who would like to put out their Christmas Oscar wish.

For example: “Dear Oscar, hear my plea…It’s a long shot at best but if Ava DuVernay is nominated in the original screenplay category she will become the first African American female writer and director to be nominated there. There might not have been a better performance this year than Emmanuelle Riva in Amour. And Richard Gere has never been nominated for an Oscar. A well known character actress named Ann Dowd gave one of the best supporting performances of the year.”

Breakdown of branches after the cut.

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Architects: Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali
Cost: No man can say. Just kidding, $250 million
Will open: 2016
Location: May Company Wilshire building, Wilshire and Fairfax
The beef: “Through immersive exhibitions and galleries, special screening rooms, and an interactive education center with demonstration labs, the museum will draw from the Academy’s extensive collections and archives, which include more than 140,000 films, 10 million photographs, 42,000 original film posters, 10,000 production drawings, costumes, props and movie-making equipment, as well as behind-the-scenes personal accounts from artists and innovators – the Academy’s membership – working in the motion picture industry.”

Jimmy Fallon, freshest of late late night talk show hosts, is in talks to host the 85th Academy Awards. ABC is reportedly raising objections because Fallon has the audacity to be brilliant on a program not owned by ABC. The network has no authority in choice of Oscar host so what good can come of Disney/ABC kicking up a stink? The LATimes has details.

ABC is owned by Disney, and Disney chief executive Bob Iger is said to be unhappy with the idea of showcasing Fallon, whose show competes with ABC’s late-night show featuring Jimmy Kimmel. Fallon and Kimmel are in a neck-and-neck competition for viewers.

Disney declined to comment. The people briefed on the talks cautioned that they could still fall apart. While in the last few years the academy has primarily turned to film stars to host its biggest night, talk show hosts such as Jon Stewart and David Letterman have hosted the telecast before. But Letterman took the Oscar stage in mid-1990s, before ABC had a late-night show of its own, and Stewart’s show airs on Comedy Central, a cable outlet with a smaller audience.

Jimmy Kimmel is hosting this year’s Emmy Awards, and he’ll be a great fit. Personally, I think Kimmel’s style is all wrong for the classier Academy. Does ABC seriously think part of its privilege as Oscar broadcaster is to showcase its own TV talent? Shabby attitude.

(Press Release) Beverly Hills, CA – Producer Hawk Koch was elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tonight (July 31) by the organization’s Board of Governors. This will be his first term in the office.

Koch, who is beginning his ninth year as a governor representing the Producers Branch, has served as first vice president of the Academy during the past year. He previously served three one-year terms as treasurer and one term as vice president.

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The Academy just sent out the following press release. I will snap any of the digital billboards I see. Many of the films they plan to highlight are those that didn’t win Best Picture.

Jonathan Erland

Beverly Hills, CA – In anticipation of the 84th Academy Awards®, the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences has launched “Celebrate the Movies,” a digital exhibition spotlighting iconic moments from 84 films.

Beginning today, January 23, the exhibition will appear on digital billboards in Los Angeles, and on ABC’s digital “SuperSign,” an electronic landmark in New York’s Times Square. It will also be showcased on an online gallery on, and extend, where fans can share their most memorable movie-going experiences through video or text.

Images will debut in groups of 20 within the next two weeks. The 84 films represented span eight decades, beginning with “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) and culminating in “Avatar” (2009). Highlights from each decade include “Gone with the Wind” (1939), “Casablanca” (1942), “The Killers” (1946), “Sunset Boulevard” (1950), “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), “True Grit” (1969), “The Exorcist” (1973), “Saturday Night Fever” (1977), “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), “Apollo 13” (1995), “Shrek” (2001), “Ray” (2004), and “The Dark Knight” (2008).  The exhibition highlights all of Hollywood’s major genres, as well as independent, animated, foreign-language, and documentary films.

Included in the first 20 images are the eight that were featured in the key art campaign, which was unveiled in late December.

The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, at 5:30 a.m. PST in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar® presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

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