Monday, April 11, 2011

New executives named at Academy


With an impending retirement, Academy board members had a replacement to find. Would they look within the organization or outside? How about both.

Not only did the Board of Governors decide with whom to replace the Academy’s retiring executive director Bruce Davis, it created — at the same time — a new structure for the organization.

The board voted on April 7 to establish a “new leadership tandem,” naming Film Independent head Dawn Hudson CEO and long-time Academy executive Ric Robertson COO.

Davis announced in October his intention to retire in June (at the end of the Academy’s fiscal year), leaving an organization at which he’s spend 30 years. Davis has been executive director for more than 20 of those years.

“This is truly the end of an era,” said Deadline’s Nikki Finke, who broke the story of Davis’ retirement. “Davis has run AMPAS with an increasingly iron fist in recent years and become a controversial figure to say the least.”

Coincidentally, both Davis and Robertson started at the Academy in 1981. The former was named executive administrator in 1983; the latter, in 1989, when Davis was promoted executive director.

As executive administrator, Robertson has overseen the Academy’s public programming, its library and film archive, as well as its public relations, marketing and legal affairs, along with numerous awards-related events and activities.

In an interview with The Gold Knight in February, Robertson said he was “sad and excited about the opportunity to exceed (Davis).”

Before the announcement, Robertson expected the sole job of executive director.

“Insiders thought Robertson would quit instead of take the COO post but he didn't,” Finke reported on Deadline.com. Robertson “was passed over and now has to report to someone else again.”

Hudson has been at the helm of Film Independent for 20 years. The organization grew from a small non-profit into a nationally recognized arts institution during her tenure. Its two signature programs are the 26-year-old Independent Spirit Awards, which has become a notable awards show the day before the Oscars, and the Los Angeles Film Festival, held annually in June.

"One reason Hudson landed the job is that she’s a strong manager, a listener, and a consensus builder who has effectively run her organization, mounted an annual film festival, raised sponsorships and put on a live Indie Spirit Awards show. She’s respected, authoritative, well-liked," noted Anne Thompson on her blog Thompson on Hollywood.

Hudson and Robertson will assume their new positions on June 1, following a planned bylaw revision, already in the works, according to the April 7 press release.

“Now, with the leadership team of Dawn as our CEO and Ric as our COO, we have the ideal combination of new vision and institutional continuity to move us forward,” Academy president Tom Sherak was quoted in the press release.

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