George Clooney & Brad Pitt Call Oscars Foul, Protest Major Change To Upcoming Awards Show

Brad Pitt (L) and George Clooney attend the one-night reading of '8' presented by The American Foundation For Equal Rights.
Michael Buckner / Getty Images for American Foundation for Equal Rights

Two-time Oscar-winner George Clooney, Oscar-winner Brad Pitt, and other A-list celebs are up in arms over the major changes taking place during this year’s Academy Awards coverage, just two short weeks ahead of the biggest night of the year for the film industry.

People Magazine reported that Clooney and Pitt are amongst a slew of actors, directors, and other important Hollywood players to take a stand against the Academy’s decision to present four categories at the upcoming 91st Oscars during commercial breaks.

The news outlet reported that leaders in their respective trades, including directors Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Damien Chazelle, and Spike Lee, and actors Clooney, Pitt, Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Banks, Peter Dinklage, Kerry Washington, and Seth Rogen all signed a missive damning the change.

The move is in an attempt to shorten the ceremony to three hours. Hollywood’s biggest night is notorious for running overtime due to the length of speeches and the number of categories that are presented throughout the exciting evening.

The Academy has responded that there would be no attempt to discredit the four categories that would be presented during commercial breaks, which include cinematography, film editing, makeup/hairstyling, and live action short.

This year’s Oscars ceremony has already come under criticism for its challenges in finding a host (Kevin Hart was to helm until a series of disparaging tweets from his past came back to haunt him, and the event will be without a formal host) as well as the show’s attempt to shorten the show by allowing only two best song nominees to perform. At the time, only Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper and Kendrick Lamar and SZA were scheduled to perform their nominated songs “Shallow” from A Star is Born and “All the Stars” from Black Panther, reported Variety.

Just days after the announcement, it was reported by Variety that all the nominated songs, which include “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns, “I’ll Fight” from RBG, and “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs would be performed by their respective artists that evening.

The Hollywood Reporter printed an excerpt from the letter slamming the most current tweak to the broadcast. The celebrities who signed stated, “Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to a 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.”

“When the recognition of those responsible for the creation of outstanding cinema is being diminished by the very institution whose purpose it is to protect it, then we are no longer upholding the spirit of the Academy’s promise to celebrate film as a collaborative art form,” it also noted.

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Academy president John Bailey explained the outline for the upcoming show in an email to Academy members, noted People, also explaining there would be “a rotation” of categories and that during the 2020 broadcast, four different categories would be presented during commercial breaks. There has been no official word if the missive signed by the celebrities would invoke a change for the upcoming Oscar show.

The Oscars airs February 24 on ABC.