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Editors condemn Academy's decision to pre-record eight awards

There's been further criticism of the Academy's plans to present eight Oscars an hour before the live telecast commences

‘The Power of the Dog’ is one of the nominees for Best Editing. Image via AP
‘The Power of the Dog’ is one of the nominees for Best Editing. Image via AP

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Even with Oscar night almost upon us, the chorus of voices protesting the Academy's controversial decision regarding the non-telecast of certain award categories grows louder.   

In a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, American Cinema Editors condemned the Academy's decision to not present eight Oscar categories in the live broadcast of the 94th Academy Awards.

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The letter, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, condemned the Academy's controversial plan that was met with immediate backlash when it was announced on 22 February.

"Treating certain categories differently from others has struck a nerve within our community, with the overwhelming majority of our membership feeling unheard, disrespected and abandoned by the very same Academy which so many of us have supported for decades," read the message, signed by the ACE board of directors.

The Academy currently plans to present the eight Oscars—for film editing, documentary short, makeup/hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live-action short and sound—inside the Dolby Theatre an hour before the live telecast commences. They will be recorded and edited into the subsequent live broadcast, with the move following record-low ratings for ABC's 2021 Oscars telecast.

ACE continued, "While editors can empathize with the need to balance honouring art with the popularity and viewership of the event, we must restate our belief that the decision to cull these categories in the manner described is not the solution to the dwindling ratings. There are other creative and entertaining ways to shorten a show—we know, that's what we do! We believe that true fans of the Oscars don't want to see an evening celebrating the highest honour in our industry reduced to a buzzy variety spectacle."

In recent weeks, film editors have been among those who have signed multiple petitions urging the Academy to reverse its approach to the broadcast.

One of the biggest names of the many to protest the decision has been director Steven Spielberg, who said: “Without John Williams, Jaws would wear dentures. With West Side Story, when Tony is singing Tonight with Maria, without (Production Designer) Adam Stockhausen he would be singing it on a step-ladder and she would be on the scaffolding, all this on an empty soundstage. Without film editing, all my movies would still be in dailies. We all come together to make magic, and I am sad that we will all not be on live television watching magic happen together.”

Apart from ACE, other such groups included Motion Picture Editors Guild, International Cinematographers Guild, Society of Composers and Lyricists, Cinema Audio Society and Motion Picture Sound Editors. 

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Organizers have promised that they will keep the broadcast to three hours and Packer wants to make it as entertaining as possible while still honoring the nominees and winners.

“The show will flow, not unlike a movie, in that there will be different themes and a different feel and different energy throughout the night,” producer Will Packer said in an interview. “It will not feel or look or sound like one show for three hours. It’s taking you through the course of this cinematic journey.” 

(with inputs from ANI and AP)

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