There will be fewer thanks for the academy this year — and the Hollywood elite are furious.
The decision by Oscar’s officials to get rid of four awards from the ABC telecast has been met with scathing criticism from the Hollywood ranks.
On Wednesday evening, dozens of movie heavyweights — including Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Brad Pitt, cinematographer Roger Deakins and director Damien Chazelle — issued an open-letter to the academy’s leadership blasting the decision.
“Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status in this 91st Academy Awards ceremony is nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession,” the group wrote.
“They make about six or seven million dollars a year off of the Academy Awards on television which pays for the academy,” says Michael Douglas, a two-time Oscar winner. “How do you put together an entertaining show versus (honor the winners)? So, I understand as far as a television viewing audience show, they don’t do a very good job.”
“I don’t like it. I don’t think that’s a cool deal. I’m an artist so I believe we’ve all worked really hard, we’ve nurtured our gifts and we should all be able to celebrate them with the world,” says Regina King, a nominee for best supporting actress.
Specifically, the academy decided that the four awards: best cinematography, film editing, live-action short and hair and makeup styling, will be given during commercial breaks.
No acceptance speech.
It’s a last ditch stunt to resurrect ratings after the awards shows have become increasingly political and liberal. Last year the ceremony pulled in just 26.5 million viewers. That’s an all-time drop.
The officials behind the Oscars are caught in a perilous game in a socially fractured society: honor the artists or go for ratings. After a litany of public-relations disasters, backtracks and missteps, academy officials are disseminating the message that the show must go on.
Then Kevin Hart announced, himself, that he was hosting this year’s awards. When old jokes surfaced that some found offensive, the comedian initially “chose to pass on the apology,” inflaming the backlash. Within hours, he withdrew as host.
Shortly thereafter the Oscars officials announced that there would be no host at all.
Which means this awards show could get very, very ugly.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.