Sunday, May 5, 2013

Academy meeting offers rule changes, transparency

A life-size Oscar outside the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn
Theater, where members gathered for an unprecedented
coast-to-coast meeting May 4.
Photo courtesy The Academy's Instagram. 
President Hawk Koch opened the Academy's May 4 membership event with a quote from former president Fay Kanin, who died in March.

"We're part of a medium that allows us to be creative, daring … and once in a while, extraordinary," said Koch, quoting Kanin.

The unprecedented membership meeting took place on both coasts, with live feeds from the Academy's Beverly Hills, Calif., headquarters presentation being beamed to Lighthouse International in New York City and Pixar headquarters in Emeryville, Calif.

During the meeting, Koch announced a big change to Academy Awards voting. All voting members will now be automatically be eligible to vote all 24 categories. This change affects the foreign language and documentary short subject categories. Previously, members were required to attend screenings in order to vote.

The Academy will now provide members with DVDs for those categories, similar to what it started this past year with the Documentary Feature, Animated Short and Live Action Short categories.

Koch also revealed that 90 percent of the Academy voting membership voted for this year's Oscars — something the Academy has not revealed before.

When Academy CEO Dawn Hudson spoke to members, she said the meeting was about them.

"You're the backbone of the Academy," she said.

She shared highlights of what the nonprofit organization has been up to since the Oscars were held at the end of February. Events included a reunion of "Wayne's World" and a series on visual effects.

Other topics discussed during the 90-minute meeting were plans on the Academy's museum, slated to open in 2017, international outreach in Iran, East Africa and Vietnam, according to the Academy's Twitter account.

The meeting, a first for the organization, brought more than 1,000 members together to discuss "the future of our Academy" in a move to bring more transparency.

“The Academy is planning to be more open,” President Koch said in an interview with TheWrap.com after the meeting ended.

One detail revealed during the meeting was the 90 percent voting participation among members, something the Academy had not specified before.

Koch told Deadline.com's Pete Hammond that 96 percent of members who signed up to e-vote did so and 87 percent of members who signed up for traditional paper ballot voted that way.

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