LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Not surprisingly, some Hollywood guilds reacted negatively today to a move by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to present some Oscars prior to the telecast in an effort to streamline the three-hour awards show.
“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 form 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 statement came in response to an announcement Tuesday by the Academy that eight awards will be presented prior to the actual telecast. In a letter to members, Academy President David Rubin said the awards will be presented on stage at the Dolby Theatre, and the presentations will be edited and included in the telecast.
He said all winners will still be acknowledged during the telecast, but the new format will help tighten the broadcast to maintain viewership.
“For the audience at home, the show’s flow does not change, though it will become tighter and more electric with this new cadence, and the live broadcast should end — yes, with the best picture category — at the three- hour mark,” Rubin wrote in his letter to Academy members.
He noted in the letter 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.”
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.
This year’s plan appears to be meeting with the same resistance.
“As a group of artists wholly dedicated to advancing the art and prestige of film editing, we passionately believe that editing — and all other creative disciplines that are part of the collaborative art of filmmaking — should be treated equally,” the ACE board’s statement continued.
“Our contributions to that collaboration may sometimes appear invisible but they are undeniable. We hope that film editors and other artists affected by this change will be honored and celebrated with the passion, dignity and inclusion they deserve.”
The Motion Picture Editors Guild also expressed dismay at the change.
“We understand the Academy’s desire to make a more arresting show, but this move renders the `invisible art’ of editing even less visible,” MPEG President Alan Heim said in a statement to The Wrap.
“The Oscars should be a night to celebrate all of the labor and artistry that combine to bring stories to life on the screen, and we think deserving craftspeople have more than earned their time in the spotlight.”
Under the plan announced by Rubin on Tuesday, Oscars that will be presented prior to the telecast and edited for inclusion in the show are the awards for documentary short subject, film editing, makeup/hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short film, live action short film and sound.
The 94th Oscar ceremony will be held March 27.