The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences new CEO Bill Kramer explicitly acknowledged there are fixes that need to be made in the Academy’s annual Oscars show and process and promised to address them while speaking at this morning’s AMPAS membership meeting held in person at the Academy Museum in Los Angeles as well as virtually for members worldwide.
“Clearly there is a need to reinvigorate the show and we are hard at work with our great partners at Disney-ABC on this,” Kramer told the members, and then as part of a power point presentation listed eight areas they are addressing so far, and that includes, as Deadline just announced the naming of veteran live television and awards show producers to run the show, Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner, who have collectively won numerous Emmys for their work including 21 Tony Awards shows.
The points Kramer and new President Janet Yang emphasized in moving the show to a position of “power, honorability, and importance” were:
- Hiring producing teams who are accountable to the Academy and creating a dedicated team within the Academy solely focused on the Awards
- Determining how to best honor all craft areas on air
- Focusing on a love and reverence for film
- Creating an emotional investment in the nominees
- Exploring extensions of the show on streaming
- Continuing the theatrical requirement for eligibility
- Making the red carpet an event
- Continuing to prioritize sustainability, access, inclusion, and representation
As to that second point regarding honoring “all craft areas” on air, a bone of contention that led to great distress earlier this year at the 94th Oscars when the decision was made to present eight shall we say, less glamorous awards mainly for crafts, in a pre-show and then edited and rolled into the live broadcast, the pair made this promise: “Determining how to best honor all craft areas on air – so many of you wrote in with questions about this and we are hard at work with our producers and Disney-ABC.”
I had heard they have no intention of repeating that “experiment” as was originally described to me by former CEO Dawn Hudson and past President David Rubin (both left the door open to further changes in the future), but at today’s meeting they made no explicit promise to completely go back to the way it has been in the past. Ratings were up from the pandemic-affected 93rd show for the 94th Oscars, but still rank among the lowest rated Oscar shows ever, and the hope that shortening craft category presentations would bring the show in on time did not work out. It was one of the longest Academy Awards ever in fact, so stay tuned for further updates as plans for the 2023 show progress. And as for the committment to continuing the theatrical requirement for eligibility, sources have told Deadline that is one area the Producers branch in particular is very concerned about, and is working on an effort to solidify just what that requirement should be going forward.
At the meeting, Yang reiterated leadership’s committment to the members, “We are a members-first organization; members are our superpower, and we are prioritizing the needs of our Academy Members,” she said, confirming AMPAS now has 10,627 members around the globe, 34% identify as women, 19% are from underrepresented ethnic and racial communities, and 23% live outside of the United States, and said they would continue to make the latter group feel “connected” to the Academy.
Both talked about their vision for the Academy, and that included galvanizing the global film community and membership to become a unifying force in the industry; building a sustainable organization with a diversified base of support; building enthusiasm for movies in general, celebrating and preserving the collaborative artistry of moviemaking; and helping envision a new, inclusive, and equitable future for the industry.
Diversifying support and revenue and building a sustainable long term budget which includes a new office of revenue and business development which will, among other things explore the expansion of the Academy’s digital screening room, licensing possibilities, new sponsorships, and other philanthropic fundraising opportunities.
Finding new ways to further engage with members, these mass meetings being just one way
Advancing understanding and preservation of cinema
Advancing their own inclusion and sustainability initiatives
Helping to develop a new generation of diverse filmmaking talent
Creating clarity and efficiency in the AMPAS organizational structure (something Kramer dove into the minute he took over)
Evolving the “brand”
On the sometimes controversial “inclusion and sustainability” initiatives mentioned above, Kramer and Yang listed various aspects of it and clarified what is happening with that. “It has been a collaborative process with the industry and we’ve had widespread support from our partners – studios, distributors, and filmmakers – support that began even before the standards were announced and continues today.”
Kramer also added that: “ Our goal is not to disqualify any films, rather to celebrate and encourage our collective progress towards greater representation and inclusion in the industry. We want people to make the films they want to make. Given the tremendous efforts of the industry, for the past Oscars, All of the Best Picture nominees qualified and would have met the standards.”
On the all-important continuing efforts of film preservation, Yang said, “The Academy would deliver accessible and relevant museum exhibitions, screenings, and programs, as well as continue to grow and steward Academy collections – which has over 13 million items in the collection including posters, scripts, photographs, films, costumes, cameras, props, and so much more. The world turns to us to learn about the history and legacy of our treasured art form – this is our responsibility and duty as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.”
Later today the Academy Museum will be hosting an event promoted by Native American members of the Academy and offering a long overdue apology to the treatment of Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American woman who appeared to make a speech turning down Marlon Brando’s Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather in 1973. Both Yang and Kramer will be among the speakers at this event, clearly an example of the Academy’s moves toward inclusion for all ethnicities, and perhaps acknowledgement of mistakes in the past.