The drama between the Academy and a growing number of industry icons over plans to tape-delaying four categories has not died down. On Monday, AMPAS notified members four categories, Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling and Live Action Short, would be handed out during commercial breaks and then edited into the program later on. Nominees, previous winners and members were not happy over what they see as unfair treatment of key members of a filmmaking team (not to mention industry).
It goes without saying that the Academy underestimated the uproar this would cause. Major Oscar winners such as Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron initially taking the plan to task. That was followed by an open letter from industry icons such as Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, Sandy Powell, Ang Lee, Emmanuel Lubezki and Reed Morano, among others. The Academy responded tersely (the details of which can be found here), but by today George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Joel and Ethan Coen, Brad Bird, Danny Boyle, Robert De Niro, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Kate Winslet, Jeff Bridges, Ron Howard and Hans Zimmer, again, among others, had signed the letter.
Today, two events occurred. The President of the American Society of Cinematographers, Kees van Oostrum, asked for a meeting with AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson to discuss the matter. If and when the meeting takes place he’ll be joined by cinematographers Emmanuel Lubezki, Rachel Morrison and Hoyte van Hoytema to attempt to find common ground, if possible. Van Oostrum also stroked more flames to the fire by telling Deadline that in regards to John Bailey, the President of AMPAS and also a cinematographer, “I think in the end that Bailey agrees with the view that Cinematographers don’t want to be short-changed. He has been one his whole life and one of the most fervent defenders of our craft.”
Additionally, the ASC responded to AMPAS with the following retort:
“Your response to our protest letter of Feb. 13 is unsatisfying and oddly inaccurate. To state that “No award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners any less than others” is in direct conflict with the plan presented by you to Academy members this past Monday.
The act of handing out certain awards during commercial breaks and then, at your discretion, airing this content, is most certainly depicting these categories in a lesser light than those being honored live in the spotlight on the main stage.
Regarding your concerns of “misinformation” and “inaccurate reporting”: Our protest letter of Feb. 13 was created by a small group of ASC members directly referencing a copy of President Bailey’s Feb. 11 letter, as well as the AMPAS Mission Statement.”
What happens next is unclear, but this is an issue that has angered the membership across multiple branches. As noted in this AP Story from earlier today, if something isn’t done the Academy may have a “full scale revolt” on its hands.
The 91st Academy Awards will be broadcast semi-live on Feb. 24 on ABC at 5 PM PT, 8 PM ET.