The revolt stems from the decision to present four Oscar categories during commercial breaks.
A group of actors — as well as more directors, cinematographers and other filmmakers — have added their names to the open letter sent to the Film Academy and the producers of the Oscars. The letter urges the Academy to reverse its decision to present four categories during commercial breaks during the ABC broadcast of the 91st Academy Awards, which is now just 10 days away.
Those who have joined the growing revolt include helmers Alfonso Cuaron, Christopher Nolan, Michael Mann, Alejandro G. Inarritu and Guillermo del Toro, as well as actors George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Banks, Peter Dinklage and Kerry Washington.
The letter calls the Academy’s decision “nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession. … The vocal response from our peers and the immediate backlash from industry leaders over the Academy’s decision makes it clear that it’s not too late to have this decision reversed.”
In an email to the Academy membership on Monday, Academy president John Bailey, who belongs to the cinematographers branch, laid out the plan for this year’s show, including the presentation of four Oscar categories — cinematography, film editing, live-action shorts and makeup and hairstyling — during commercial breaks, with the winners’ speeches set to air later in the broadcast. The plan calls for there to be a rotation each year, meaning that at least four different categories would use this format in 2020 and that the four mentioned would be exempt. (This was first announced last year but without details and specific categories.)
Bailey emphasized that the Academy is “still honoring the achievements of all 24 awards on the Oscars” while addressing pressure to shorten the broadcast (which a year ago ran 3 hours and 53 minutes).
The Academy quickly responded to the open letter on Wednesday with its own letter to members, assuring them that “no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others.”
The Academy also asserted that the branches of the affected categories had “volunteered” to go first this year. According to several sources, a video demonstration of what this new format will look like was shown to the various branches. It was generally described as “respectful” and included most of the presentation, minus the winner’s walk to the stage.
The open letter urging a reversal of this decision was first released Wednesday and was backed by such filmmakers as Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. The letter with new names can be found here.