Oscars group asks members for advice
LOS ANGELES — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is inviting its roughly 6,000 members to join what promises to be an unusual group discussion of something that has set off much private debate here recently: the Academy’s future.
Word of the planned session was sent to members Thursday in an email from Hawk Koch, the Academy’s president, and Dawn Hudson, its chief executive. A brief “save the date” memo described a special event to be held in three cities — Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco — on May 4.
Details were few, but the email promised “questions and conversation with our members” about “the future of our Academy.”
In the last few years the Academy, which presents the Oscars, has been the subject of almost constant hand-wringing concerning the quality and ratings of its annual awards show, the age and ethnic diversity of its membership, and efforts to shore up the cultural relevance of film.
Still, the group has rarely, if ever, opened the door for a global discussion of its aims or operation.
Koch did not respond to a query about the meeting, and a spokeswoman for the Academy declined to comment.
Several Academy members who have been active in the awards process said Friday that they were puzzled by the announcement.
One highly placed studio executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid conflict with the Academy, said he believed it was an attempt by Hudson, who has held her post for about two years, to get input from members as she and others plot their agenda.
“This is Dawn taking the lead,” the executive said.
The same executive said he would not be shy about using the forum to demand specific change in the Academy’s awards procedures — for instance, by revamping its rules for the best foreign-language Oscar, much as it changed procedures last year to include more voters in the documentaries category.
Still, the prospect of a possible mass debate over intricacies of the Oscar process struck some as peculiar.
“That would be an odd event if it happened,” said Ron Yerxa, a film producer who was a co-chairman of the Academy’s foreign-film committee in the last awards cycle.