Hoping to level the playing field and drastically cut down on the barrage of improper promotional shenanigans between filmmakers and the Academy Award voters (AMPAS members), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a series of tweaks to its campaign rulebook that tighten the regulations on post-nomination screenings.
Going forward, Academy members may only be invited by a film's backers to a maximum of four screenings (with filmmaker Q&A sessions) during what it considers the post-nomination period between January 15th - when Academy Award nominations are announced - and February 19th - when Oscar voting ends. Prior to its 2011 awards, the Academy had similarly changed the rules to limit such events to two, however the rule had a serious loophole which the film companies were quick to exploit.
Academy COO Ric Robertson said, "Last year, the rule was no one filmmaker, actor, director, producer, d.p., could do more than two Q&As in that post-nominations period," Robertson told Variety. "Depending on how many people were in the film (such as those with large ensembles or production teams), that still allowed a particular film to do an extraordinary number of Q&As. Sounds like film companies misunderstood the spirit of last year's rule changes and hosted two Q&As for EACH person involved with the film, rather than just two per film as the rules intended.
"The feedback we got ... was that there were just too many. Someone at one of our meetings said that on one given night there were nine Q&As going on."
While AMPAS hopes the new rules tweaks will help protect the integrity of the awards and give all films an equal chance at winning (and they probably will), we have a solution to a more pressing problem that AMPAS may not even realize it has. Or if they do, one they've yet to address. No one really cares about how many invitations to the ritzy screenings it receives, nor could we give a darn about the free drinks, gratis meals, extra-special personalized screenings, or bags of studio swag that are handed out to sway voters. The studios will always find another way to be evil.
What we do care about, is hearing how the association plans to remain relevant in a world of increasing entertainment value, especially since the Oscar ceremonies have really sucked of late. As revealed in a study conducted last year by the Los Angeles Times, the identities of more than 5,100 of the 5,765 Academy Award voters were confirmed to be 94% Caucasian and 77% male, with a median age of Oscar voters at 62. In other words, the Academy is getting old and stale and their Oscar presentations (as well as their desperate attempts to revive them) have begun to reflect that. How about a little diversity in the membership ranks to be more representative of the general movie watching population? You want better ratings for your show? Make a better show. But, a room full of stodgy old cigar-chomping white men who still harbor images of the good old days of Vaudeville will never understand what a good show is, much less give it a blessing.
So until the Academy gets serious about making itself better, more representative, and more appealing to a broader range of people, we'll continue to get bad Oscar presentation ceremonies and more fluff disguised as self improvement, like this latest announcement of minor tweaks and twinges that do nothing to heighten the excitement for the organization or its annual Academy Awards ceremony.
Oh, and by the way, the newly announced rules updates also deploy measures to strengthen a ban against film companies sending AMPAS members links to websites that promote a film using audio, video, or other multimedia elements… Ho hum.
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