James Cameron, John Williams, Kathleen Kennedy, More Urge Academy to Reverse Controversial Oscars Telecast Changes

Some of Hollywood’s most high-profile filmmakers, including director James Cameron, producers Kathleen Kennedy and Lili Fini Zanuck and composer John Williams have joined the growing chorus of voices asking the Academy to reverse course and present all 23 Oscars on the live March 27 telecast.

In a letter sent today to Academy President David Rubin and obtained by Variety, more than six dozen film professionals, including multiple Academy Award winners, contend that the plan to present eight awards during the pre-telecast hour will “demean” these crafts and “relegate [them] to the status of second-class citizens.”

The eight are original score, film editing, production design, makeup and hairstyling, sound, documentary short, live-action short and animated short. The Academy continues to insist that the nominees in those categories will be announced, and the winner’s acceptance speech aired, in edited form and aired as part of the three-hour ABC show.

That’s not good enough for these artists. “To diminish any of those individual categories in the pursuit of ratings and short-term profits does irreparable damage to the Academy’s standing as impartial arbiters, responsible stewards of our industry’s most important awards,” the letter says.

“Seeking new audiences by making the telecast more entertaining is a laudable and important goal, but this cannot be achieved by demeaning the very crafts that, in their most outstanding expressions, make the art of filmmaking worthy of celebration.”

They urge Rubin and his colleagues on the Academy awards committee “in the strongest possible terms… to reverse your decision. For nearly a century, the Academy Award has represented the gold standard in recognizing and honoring all the essential crafts in filmmaking. Now, as we approach Oscar’s 100th year, we are deeply troubled that this gold standard is being tarnished by valuing some filmmaking disciplines over others, relegating those others to the status of second-class citizens.

“Critical artistic crafts like music scoring, film editing, production design, makeup, hairstyling and sound will always deserve the same respect and recognition as crafts like acting, directing and visual effects,” the letter reads.

Ninety-year-old composer and five-time Oscar-winner John Williams — who, at 52 nominations, holds the record for the most of any living person — is among the signers. Director Steven Spielberg cited Williams’ “Jaws” score earlier week in his own denunciation of the decision, saying “without John Williams, ‘Jaws’ would wear dentures.”

Directors Cameron, Joe Roth and Guillermo del Toro; producers  Kennedy and Zanuck; costume designer Milena Canonero; production designers Dean Tavoularis, Dante Ferretti and Geoffrey Kirkland; and cinematographers Dante Spinotti and Vittorio Storaro are among the other signees.

Also signing are more than three dozen composers, including Oscar winners Howard Shore, Dave Grusin, Alexandre Desplat, Steven Price, Hildur Guðnadóttir, John Corigliano, Tan Dun and Jan Kaczmarek; past Oscar nominees John Debney, George Fenton, Nicholas Britell, Terence Blanchard, Thomas Newman, James Newton Howard, David Newman, Dustin O’Halloran, Volker Bertelmann, John Powell and Alan Silvestri; and Emmy winner Ramin Djawadi.

The complete text and roster of signers:

President, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences

Dear President Rubin:

We the undersigned urge you in the strongest possible terms, along with your colleagues on the Awards Committee, to reverse your decision to remove the presentation of eight awards categories from the live telecast of this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, including Best Original Score, Film Editing, Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound, Documentary Short Subject and both Live Action and Animated Short Film.   

For nearly a century, the Academy Awards has represented the gold standard in recognizing and honoring all of the essential crafts in filmmaking.  Now, as we approach the Oscars’ 100th year, we are deeply troubled that this gold standard is being tarnished by valuing some filmmaking disciplines over others and relegating those others to the status of second-class citizen.  Critical artistic crafts like music scoring, film editing, production design, makeup, hairstyling, and sound will always deserve the same respect and recognition as crafts like acting, directing, and visual effects.  To diminish any of these individual categories in the pursuit of ratings and short-term profits does irreparable damage to the Academy’s standing as impartial arbiters and responsible stewards of our industry’s most important awards.   

Seeking new audiences by making the telecast more entertaining is a laudable and important goal, but this cannot be achieved by demeaning the very crafts that, in their most outstanding expressions, make the art of filmmaking worthy of celebration.

Sincerely,

Peter Baert

Bruce Berman

Volker Bertelmann

Terence Blanchard

Scott Bomar

Nicholas Britell

James Cameron

Milena Canonero

John Corigliano

John Debney

Guillermo del Toro

Alexandre Desplat

Ramin Djawadi

Amie Doherty

Tan Dun

Laura Engel

Bruce A. Evans 

Sven Faulconer

George Fenton

Dante Ferretti

Simon Franglen

Raynold Gideon

Michael Gorfaine

Peter Gregson

Dave Grusin

Trevor Gureckis

Hildur Guðnadóttir

Alex Heffes

Nate Heller

David Hirschfelder

Natalie Holt

James Newton Howard

Steve Jablonsky

Jónsi

Federico Jusid

Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

Kathleen Kennedy

Geoffrey Kirkland

Philip Klein

Maria Machado

Patty Macmillan

Judianna Makovsky

Richard Marvin

Nami Melumad

Robert Messinger

Thomas Newman

David Newman

Anne Nikitin

Dustin O’Halloran

Atli Örvarsson

John Powell

Steven Price

Michael Rosenberg

Joe Roth

Sam Schwartz

Lisbeth Scott

Theodore Shapiro

Howard Shore

Alan Silvestri

Sam Slater

Alex Somers

Dante Spinotti

Herdís Stefánsdóttir

Vittorio Storaro

Tamar-kali

Dean Tavoularis

Fernando Velázquez

Chris Walden

Chris Westlake

Nathan Whitehead

John Williams

Andrew Zack

Lili Fini Zanuck

 

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James Cameron, John Williams, Kathleen Kennedy, More Urge Academy to Reverse Controversial Oscars Telecast Changes

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