Amid mounting controversy over a new plan to streamline the Oscars telecast by handing out some awards during commercials breaks, leaders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sent a letter to members Wednesday defending the decision and pledging that all nominees and winners would get due recognition.
“We’d like to assure you that no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others,” the letter said. The letter also blamed “inaccurate reporting and social media posts” for upsetting Academy members.
As EW and other outlets reported Monday, the Academy will be presenting four award categories — cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, and live-action short — during commercial breaks this year, and airing the acceptance speeches later in the broadcast. (The winners will also be streamed live online.) The categories are intended to rotate each year.
The plan has drawn fierce criticism, however, including an open letter signed by more than 40 high-profile directors and cinematographers, such as Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Dee Rees, Roger Deakins, and Rachel Morrison.
In their letter to members Wednesday evening, Academy leaders stressed that all 24 award categories will be presented on stage at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, and that all the winners’ speeches will be included in the broadcast. For the four categories presented during commercials, time spent walking to the stage and off will be edited out.
The letter also noted that the four categories being handled during commercials “were volunteered by their branches to have their nominees and winners announced by presenters, and included later in the broadcast.” It added, “In future years, four to six different categories may be selected for rotation, in collaboration with the show producers. This year’s categories will be exempted in 2020.”
The letter concluded, “Our show producers have given great consideration to both Oscar tradition and our broad global audience. We sincerely believe you will be pleased with the show, and look forward to celebrating a great year in movies with all Academy members and with the rest of the world.”
The Oscars will be held Feb. 24 and broadcast on ABC.
With reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy.