In a new statement, the leadership of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) has expressed its disapproval of the Academy’s decision to broadcast eight Oscars categories on a non-live basis.
IATSE is the largest union representing more than 160,000 behind the scenes workers in North America, and of the eight categories that will be aired retroactively as part of the Oscars telecast on March 27, more than half are specific to crafts the union represents, including Film Editing, Make-up and Hairstyling, Production Design, Animated Short, and Sound.
“By the nature of our jobs, behind the scenes workers get little recognition as is, despite being the backbone of every production. The Academy Awards has been virtually the only venue where the very best on and off the big screen, above and below the line, gather to honor each other’s incredible contributions through their crafts, inspiring millions who tune into the TV broadcast in the process. We believe a deviation for some crafts and categories but not others is detrimental to this fundamental purpose,” IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb said in a statement that was no doubt received loud and clear by Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.
Loeb continued, saying that “while the Academy made accommodations to include these categories in the broadcast, our position remains that the awards should put all the positions that make pictures possible on equal footing. If the winners walk away with the same trophy, then the winners deserve the same recognition. I urge the Academy to reconsider.”
Loeb issued a similar call in 2019 when the Academy cancelled plans to move four categories off of the live broadcast. That move sparked widespread pushback from the industry, just as the Academy’s current plans have, with more than 350 high-profile artists signing a letter urging Rubin, Hudson and Oscars producer Will Packer to reverse their decision.
It sounds like the entire ceremony is still very much in flux, as Variety reported today that Beyoncé is still considering performing her Oscar-nominated song from King Richard from the tennis courts in Compton where Venus and Serena Williams grew up playing, so stay tuned just in case the Academy has a change of heart at the last minute.