Notes From An Oscar Meeting Gone Wrong
An Academy member unloads as new leadership mounts a comeback for the show
As awards shows take a last stand, The Ankler is talking to members of the various awards-bestowing bodies. A 20-year veteran of the Motion Picture Academy asked to express his displeasure after attending the Sept. 17 town hall for members. He has asked to remain anonymous.
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I attended the first all-members Academy meeting this past Saturday and I am very sad. I was witnessing the death throes of an organization I watched fervently as a child and have respected and enjoyed as an adult.
A new leadership team, [CEO] Bill Kramer and [President] Janet Yang, spent 45 minutes essentially doing a slideshow from a community college sociology class. Kramer was hired by the Academy. Yang was installed in a still-controversial maneuver, through which she was elected by a few governors. Neither was vetted nor approved by the entire 10,000-plus member Academy. It was as if we had new homeroom teachers and we all listened to their first class lesson. They had slides that were unclear and numbers that were not fully explained.
The under 1,000-seat theatre was maybe one-third full — say 350 people. This was not because of Covid protocols, since most people were bunched together rather than spread out. Some people were on a virtual feed worldwide. But the feeling was that the meeting was called at 9 a.m. on a Saturday because people wouldn’t participate otherwise. Our new teachers had a syllabus to present and that’s what they did. The questions in the room were banal (“when can I start to have input into screenings?) The virtual questions, read by a struggling Howard Berger of the Makeup branch, had already been answered by the initial presentation. Then it was slight applause and a trek upstairs to the rooftop, where everyone ripped off their masks as soon as they got there, and partook of stale sandwiches and potato chips.
It’s likely the last meeting I attend for this group.
To be clear, yes, I am a white male, and I believe in diversity and inclusion. But the way the Academy has gone about trying to meet the moment — both in those aspects and in the fight for relevancy — makes no sense.
I personally can’t point to the exact moment the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences died for me, only because there are so many potential moments to choose from.