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75 Artists Send Shaming Letter to the Academy, Including Oscar Winners James Cameron and John Williams

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Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

75 of Hollywood’s top artists, including Oscar winners James Cameron and John Williams, have sent a strongly-worded letter to the Academy urging the embattled organization to reverse its decision to give out awards in eight categories prior to the start of the live telecast on March 27.

Other industry luminaries who signed the letter include Guillermo del Toro, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy, producer Kristie Macosko Krieger, writer Tony Kushner, production designer Dante Ferretti, cinematographers Dante Spinotti and Vittorio Storaro, and powerhouse composers such as Nicholas Britell, Howard Shore, Terence Blanchard, Alexandre Desplat, and James Newton Howard.

The letter was addressed to Academy President David Rubin and urged him and his colleagues on the Academy’s 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.”

The eight categories that are supposed to be affected this year are original score, film editing, production design, makeup and hairstyling, sound, documentary short, live-action short, and animated short.

“[These] critical artistic crafts… will always deserve the same respect and recognition as crafts like acting, directing and visual effects,” reads the letter.

James cameron
Image via Rainer Hosch/Corbis Outline

And while yes, the Academy isn’t lying when it says we will see all of those awards given out during the live telecast, and hear the speeches from winners, the fact is that those eight moments will be devoid of any real suspense since the Academy will have already announced those winners in real-time on social media prior to the start of the broadcast.

“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,” reads the letter. “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.”

The complete text of the letter can be found below along with the names of all 75 artists who signed it:

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

Kristie Macosko Krieger

Tony Kushner

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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