A group of prominent film industry professionals has taken the Academy to task for their plan to air some award presentations during commercial breaks, a plan they called “an insult, according to the Hollywood Reporter. In the sharply-worded letter, dozens of filmmakers, cinematographers, and directors have called on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts to reverse its plan to present some awards during commercials and after the live broadcast at the 91st Oscars on February 24.
The letter, signed by such A-list directors as Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Seth Rogan, and Quentin Tarantino, says that the plan calling for four categories, Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Live Action Short, to not be shown as part of the live broadcast runs “contrary to the spirit of the Academy’s mission.”
“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 letter reads.
After calling out the Academy for planning to air some category winners during commercials and after the live broadcast ends, the letter goes on to criticize the Academy’s intent to cut the broadcast time from four-plus hours to three by giving the program’s director carte blanche to cut out any parts of speeches and quips by presenters that he deems superfluous.
“The show’s director, Glenn Weiss, has stated that he will determine what ’emotionally resonant’ moments from the four winners’ speeches will be selected to air later in the broadcast. The show will cut any additional comment from presenters, as well as any recitation of the nominees as they see fit,” it reads.
The Academy’s board of governors appears to be feeling the heat from the controversy. They sent out an email to members trying to refute what they called a “chain of misinformation” about the changes, saying that no award category is going to be presented in such a way that “depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others.”
However, in the plan the board laid out in the email, they did not seem to be budging on presenting some awards outside of the main, live broadcast. Instead, they took great pains to point out that all the awards will be presented “on the stage,” but noting that they would be in included “later in the broadcast.”
Indeed, the board of governors has approved these changes to be an ongoing occurrence, with four to six different categories in rotation being chosen each year for this treatment.
The filmmakers’ letter ended with a quote from Seth Rogan.
“What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to NOT publicly honor the people whose job it is to literally film things?” it read.