Editors Urge Academy Not to Reduce Show to “Variety Spectacle” – The Hollywood Reporter

American Cinema Editors sent a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Saturday morning, urging it to reverse the decision not to present eight Oscar categories live during the March 27 broadcast of the 94th Academy Awards. The letter, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, condemns the Academy’s controversial plan that was met with immediate backlash when it was announced Feb. 22.

“Treating certain categories differently from others has struck a nerve within our community, with the overwhelming majority of our membership feeling unheard, disrespected and abandoned by the very same Academy which so many of us have supported for decades,” read the message, signed by the ACE board of directors.

The Academy currently plans to present the eight Oscars — for film editing, documentary short, makeup/hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live-action short and sound — inside the Dolby Theater an hour before the live telecast commences. They will be recorded and edited into the subsequent live broadcast, with the move following record-low ratings for ABC’s 2021 Oscars telecast.

ACE continued: “While editors can empathize with the need to balance honoring art with the popularity and viewership of the event, we must restate our belief that the decision to cull these categories in the manner described is not the solution to the dwindling ratings. There are other creative and entertaining ways to shorten a show — we know, that’s what we do! We believe that true fans of the Oscars don’t want to see an evening celebrating the highest honor in our industry reduced to a buzzy variety show.”

In the letter, the honorary society also pointed out that “the stated mission of the Academy is ‘to recognize and uphold excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences, inspire imagination, and connect the world through the medium of motion pictures.’” It asked, “How can this be done without equally upholding the contributions of each of the creative filmmaking disciplines? The Academy must continue to be true to these ideals.”

In recent weeks, film editors have been among those who have signed multiple petitions urging the Academy to reverse its approach to the broadcast.

ACE was among the societies and guilds that released statements immediately following the initial announcement of the telecast plan. Other such groups included Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700), International Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600), Society of Composers and Lyricists, Cinema Audio Society and Motion Picture Sound Editors.

The complete text of the ACE letter to the Academy follows.

Dear Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,

We, the American Cinema Editors Board of Directors, write to you as representatives of the 1000+ members of our organization to address the Academy’s announcement to present eight categories with pre-taped acceptance speeches during the live Oscars telecast on March 27. Treating certain categories differently from others has struck a nerve within our community, with the overwhelming majority of our membership feeling unheard, disrespected and abandoned by the very same Academy which so many of us have supported for decades.

While editors can empathize with the need to balance honoring art with the popularity and viewership of the event, we must restate our belief that the decision to cull these categories in the manner described is not the solution to the dwindling ratings. There are other creative and entertaining ways to shorten a show — we know, that’s what we do! We believe that true fans of the Oscars don’t want to see an evening celebrating the highest honor in our industry reduced to a buzzy variety show.

The Academy Awards have always been about the art of cinema, and editing is unique to film; it is a creative process that was born when motion pictures were invented. Without editing there would be no movies. But we speak not only for ourselves, but for composers, art directors and the others sidelined by this plan. The stated mission of the Academy is “to recognize and uphold excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences, inspire imagination, and connect the world through the medium of motion pictures.” How can this be done without equally upholding the contributions of each of the creative filmmaking disciplines? The Academy must continue to be true to these ideals.

It is for these reasons and more that we encourage the show’s producers and Academy leadership to reverse their decision. Hear our voice and the voices of the many leaders in our industry and let every nominee and winner have their honored Oscar experience LIVE on the telecast.

Signed,
The ACE Board of Directors

Leave a Comment