Award-Winning Sound Mixer Resigns from Academy Over Oscar Shakeup

Oscar-winning sound mixer Tom Fleischman resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in protest over the organization’s plans to present Academy Awards in several categories — including sound — prior to the show’s national telecast, it was reported today.

A spokesman for Fleischman, a longtime collaborator with Martin Scorsese, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that he had surrendered his membership to the organization. Fleischman won a sound-mixing Oscar for his work on “Hugo,” a 2011 Scorsese film. He was nominated for his work in the Scorsese films “The Aviator” and “Gangs of New York,” along with “The Silence of the Lambs” an “Reds.” He has also worked on “Goodfellas,” “The Departed,” “Do the Right Thing” and “BlacKKKlansman.”

In addition, he is a four-time Emmy winner.  His resignation is the latest fallout over the Academy’s plan to juggle the process of handing out Oscars in an effort to streamline the three- hour telecast and hopefully boost ratings. Under the Academy’s plan, Oscar statuettes in eight categories will be handed out at the Dolby Theatre prior to the start of the telecast. The affected categories are documentary short subject, film editing, makeup/hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short film, live action short film and sound.

  Academy President David Rubin told members in a letter that the move will make the telecast “tighter and more electric,” noting that the ceremony is a “live event television show and we must prioritize the television audience to increase viewer engagement and keep the show vital, kinetic and relevant.” Rubin insisted that the presentations and acceptance speeches would all be filmed, then edited and included in the Oscar telecast.

  But that has done little to appease the various Hollywood guilds affected by the change.  “We are deeply disappointed by the Academy’s decision to alter the way certain categories, including film editing, will be presented in the Oscars telecast,” according to a statement issued last month by the American Cinema Editors board of directors. “It sends a message that some creative disciplines are more vital than others. Nothing could be further from the truth and all who make movies know this.”

  The Academy has tried to implement a similar strategy before, but backlash from impacted sectors of the movie industry thwarted the plans. In 2018, the Academy announced that some awards would be presented during commercial breaks of the telecast, with highlights of the acceptance speeches then shown during the telecast. But objections from various industry guilds prompted the Academy to scrap the plan.

  The 94th Oscar ceremony will be held March 27.

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