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Open Letter to the Academy -xo

For Valentine's Day we would just like to smooch every prominent artist in Hollywood who signed this letter, quoted here in full:

An Open Letter to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and The Producers of the 91st Annual Academy Awards Broadcast:

On Monday, February 11, 2019, John Bailey, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, announced that this year’s Oscar presentations for Best Cinematography — along with Film Editing, Live Action Short and Makeup and Hairstyling — will not be broadcast live, but rather presented during a commercial break. This decision was made to reduce the length of the show from four hours to three. The vocal response from our peers and the immediate backlash from industry leaders over the Academy’s decision makes it clear that it’s not too late to have this decision reversed...

The Academy was founded in 1927 to recognize and uphold excellence in the cinematic arts, inspire imagination and help connect the world through the universal medium of motion pictures. Unfortunately, we have drifted from this mission in our pursuit of presenting entertainment rather than in presenting a celebration of our art form and the people behind it.

Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status in this 91 st Academy Awards ceremony is nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession.

The show’s director, Glenn Weiss, has stated that he will determine what “emotionally resonant” moments from the four winners’ speeches will be selected to air later in the broadcast. The show will cut any additional comment from presenters, as well as any recitation of the nominees as they see fit.

Since its inception, the Academy Awards telecast has been altered over time to keep the format fresh, but never by sacrificing the integrity of the Academy’s original mission. When the recognition of those responsible for the creation of outstanding cinema is being diminished by the very institution whose purpose it is to protect it, then we are no longer upholding the spirit of the Academy’s promise to celebrate film as a collaborative art form. To quote our colleague Seth Rogen, “What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to NOT publicly honor the people whose job it is to literally film things.”



Thomas Ackerman
Javier Aguirresarobe
Fernando Argüelles
Paul Atkins
Gary Baum
Bojan Bazelli
Dion Beebe
Bill Bennett
Gabriel Beristain
Oliver Bokelberg
Russell Boyd
Natasha Braier
Vance Burberry
Antonio Calvache
Rodney Charters
Christopher Chomyn
James Chressanthis
T.C. Christensen
Jack Cooperman
Dean Cundey
David Darby
Roger Deakins
Frankie DeMarco
Peter Deming
Jim Denault
Caleb Deschanel
George Spiro Dibie
Billy Dickson
Mark Doering-Powell
Todd A. Dos Reis
Stuart Dryburgh
Bert Dunk
John Dykstra
Robert Elswit
John C. Flinn III
Mauro Fiore
Markus Förderer
Ron Fortunato
Greig Fraser
Jonathan Freeman
Alex Funke
Steve Gainer
Dana Gonzales
Nathaniel Goodman
David Greene
Alexander Gruszynski
David R. Hardberger
Gregg Heschong
Tom Houghton
Paul Hughen
Shane Hurlbut
Peter James
Johnny E. Jensen
Matthew Jensen
Tor Johansen
Shelly Johnson
Janusz Kaminski
Adam Kane
Stephen M. Katz
Darius Khondji
David Klein
Ellen Kuras
Joseph Labisi
Ed Lachman
Jacek Laskus
Patti Lee
Robert Legato
John Leonetti
Philippe Le Sourd
Peter Levy
Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Jimmy Lindsey
Emmanuel Lubezki
Glen Macpherson
Paul Maibaum
Constantine Makris
Denis Maloney
Anthony Dod Mantle
Clark Mathis
Michael McDonough
Erik Messerschmidt
Anastas Michos
Gregory Middleton
Charles Minsky
Seamus McGarvey
Robert Mclachlan
Suki Medencevic
Chris Menges
Dan Mindel
George Mooradian
Reed Morano
Polly Morgan
Rachel Morrison
Peter Moss
David Moxness
M. David Mullen
Guillermo Navarro
James Neihouse
Michael Negrin
John Newby
Sam Nicholson
Crescenzo Notarile
Jules O’Loughlin
Thomas Alger Olgeirsson
Phedon Papamichael
Andrij Parekh
Daniel Pearl
Dave Perkal
Wally Pfister
Rodrigo Prieto
Robert Primes
Frank Prinzi
Christopher Probst
Robert Richardson
Anthony B Richmond
Antonio Riestra
Pete Romano
Martin Ruhe
Paul Ryan
Alik Sakharov
Mikael Salomon
Linus Sandgren
Germano Saracco
Paul Sarossy
Tobias Schliessler
John Seale
Ben Seresin
Steven Shaw
Lawrence Sher
Newton Thomas Sigel
John Simmons
Vittorio Storaro
Gavin Struthers
Tim Suhrstedt
Attila Szalay
Mario Tosi
Salvatore Totino
Kristy Tully
Eric van Haren Noman
Hoyte van Hoytema
Kees van Oostrum
Theo Van De Sande
Checco Varese
Mark Vargo
Roy Wagner
Colin Watkinson
Michael Weaver
Mark H. Weingartner
Jo Willems
Kenneth Zunder


Darren Aronofsky
Jacques Audiard
Brad Bird
Danny Boyle
Damien Chazelle

George Clooney
Joel Coen
Brady Corbet
Alfonso Cuaron
Guillermo del Toro
Steve Faigenbaum
Rick Famuyiwa
Rodrigo Garcia
Drew Goddard
James Gray
Luca Guadagnino
Sam Hargrave
Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Spike Jonze
Nicole Holofcener
Ron Howard
Karyn Kusama
Yorgos Lanthimos
Ang Lee
Spike Lee
Will Lovelace
Kevin Macdonald
Dennis Maguire
Michael Mann
Rob Marshall
Sam Mendes
Christopher McQuarrie
Christopher Nolan
Pawel Pawlikoski
Alexander Payne
Mark Pellington
Michael Polish
Sam Raimi
Jason Reitman
David O. Russell
Dee Rees
Nicolas Winding Refn

Seth Rogen
Joe Russo
Marjane Satrapi
Julian Schnabel
Martin Scorsese
M Night Shyamalan
Dylan Southern
Quentin Tarantino
Fernando Trueba
Denis Villeneuve
Chris Weitz
Joss Whedon
Edgar Wright
Joe Wright


Kathy Baker
Elizabeth Banks
Kate Bosworth
Zach Braff
Sterling K. Brown
Sandra Bullock
Rose Byrne
Bobby Cannavale
Max Casella
Jessica Chastain
Robert De Niro
Peter Dinklage
Ann Dowd
Elle Fanning
Paul Giamatti
Bill Hader
Michael C. Hall
Jon Hamm
Catherine Keener
Barry Keoghan
Riley Keough
Jude Law
Virginia Madsen
Frances McDormand
Max Minghella
Rosamond Pike
Brad Pitt
Jason Segel
Chloe Sevigny
Tye Sheridan
Emma Stone
Jason Sudeikis
Ulrich Thomsen
Kerry Washington
Olivia Wilde


Collen Atwood
Kym Barrett
Thomas Barron
Alan Baumgarten
Alan Edward Bell
William Brent Bell
Erin Benach
Avril Beukes
Consolata Boyle
Maryann Brandon
Alexandra Byrne
Eugenio Caballero
Milena Canonero
Hank Corwin
Scott Dale
Sophie De Rakoff
Chris Dickens
Matthew Duclos
Bob Ducsay
Mark L Duncan
Seth Emmons
Louie Escobar
Lou Eyrich
Dante Ferretti
Eric Fletcher
Glenn Fremantle
Jose Antonio Garcia
Dana Glauberman
William Goldenberg
Affonso Goncalves
Adam Gough
Jon Gregory
Clay Griffith
David Gropman
Mark Helfrich
Dorian Harris
Michael Hatzer
Rick Heinrichs
David Heyman
Amy Hobby
Frieder Hochheim
Jay Holben
Nichole Huenergardt
Rob Hummel
Chris Innis
Alan Ipakchian
Joanna Johnston
Frank Kay
Debbie Kennard
Douglas Kirkland
Jon Kilik
Anne Kuljian
Michael Legato
Devin Mann
Michael Mansouri
Mary Jo Markey
Joi McMillon
Ellen Mirojnick
Stephen Mirrione
Bob Murawski
Jeffrey A. Okun
John Ottman
Ellen Page
Michael Pizzuto
Sandy Powell
Fred Raskin
Tatiana S. Riegel
Amy Robinson
Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir
Mayes Rubeo
Nat Sanders
Pietro Scalia
Steve Schklair
Ellen H. Schwartz
Alexander Schwarz
Steven J. Scott
Anna B. Sheppard
Terilyn A. Shropshire
Lee Smith
Joan Sobel
Stefan Sonnenfeld
D. Brian Spruill
Mick Strawn
Juli Silver Taracido
Matthew Tomlinson
Michael Tronick
Plummy Tucker
Mark Ulano
Martin Walsh
Gary Wattson
Billy Weber
Julie Weiss
Hughes Winborne
Janty Yates

The "filmmaker list" is full of Editors, Costume Designer, and Production Designers as well as a few random people from other departments.

With so many editors and cinematographers, actors, and directors revolting and the Academy countering that this was fully deliberatted by the board of governors and executive branceh members guess who's getting voted out next term? You can guess that most of the current governing board are goners because the Academy members are angry. Worse yet the Board of Governors have blamed the medida for spreading disinformation about their plans (it's not disinformation, it's valid concerns) when they themselves have been constantly backtracking and releasing "plans" since August that have been wildly vague and disruptive in nature.

It's interesting to read press coverage from back when John Bailey was first elected. The New York Times, for instance, wrote:

His election represents a victory for the academy’s less-visible contingent of “below the line” artists — those who are not actors, writers, directors or producers — many of whom have felt overlooked in Hollywood.

But it turned out that below the line artists were the ones about to suffer most. Original coverage also leads us to wonder, in retrospect, if it might be Dawn Hudson (Chief Executive - her contract is up in 2020) that's the actual cause of the changes, and that John Bailey just wasn't as strong to stand up against her as Cheryl Boone-Isaacs apparently was in the past. 

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Reader Comments (31)

Actors only care about themselves.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Seth Rogen signed the letter and was quoted in it to boot. And he's much better known as an actor than a director. I'm guessing a lot of actors agree with this sentiment.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCash

Clooney, Spielberg, Lucas, the Coens... where art thou?

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Kinda odd that you posted the old letter today, given that today a slew of actors and more directors have signed on

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTr

I've never will understand why just actors or directors receive standing ovations when they win.

I remember watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind winning best screenplay, WALL-E winning best animated feature and Emmanuel Lubezki winning three times as cinematography, i really was expecting a standing ovation... but no... Was just me standing in my living room clapping alone.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCésar Gaytán

And did you see Bailey's tone deaf reaction to this whole thing? Blaming the media for spreading misinformation! As if he didn't do a piss poor job communicating at all what was happening.

Honestly, all the announcements and changes these past year from the Academy were bad enough, but what's worse is the total lack of foresight they had in terms of how the internet, the fans, and even their own members would react.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Clooney signed it, as did Joel Coen and many other prominent names. They just weren't among the very first round of signatories.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

anyone care to point me to the updated version? This is the one i saw at variety and elsewhere

February 14, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

There hasn’t been a worse Academy President than John Bailey, has there?

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Nathaniel - Check out Deadline.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Thats all the directors they could get? Not even Ryan Coogler and Patty Jenkins signed? Not even Soderbergh who also edits? Couldnt Seth Rogan have called up his pals James Franco and Evan Mottola?

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterOrrin

They just don't get it. The whole thing is sickening. It is destroying the spirit of celebrating the collaboration of filmmaking. And not only are the ones winning the awards being shoved to the commercials, the nominees will not be announced or recognized either. What a terrible way to treat these artists.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

The letter has been updated with added names. More people are signing on. This board of governors is toast when the Academy gets to vote again.

February 14, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I see the ASC website has the letter with names of actors who also signed it too. Looks like the list is growing:

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKristenCraze

Sounds like another backtrack could be imminent.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

Would be interesting to read about Dawn Hudson's role in all of this.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRyan C.

The Oscars should honor the arts and craft of cinema. Cinematography and editing as prime tools of film making- you can make a movie with out them. You could make a film with out a script but not with out a camera.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I'm truly proud!

Fabio Dantas Flappers

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFabio Dantas Flappers

From what I can see on the ASC website now Close and Dafoe are the only actors nominated this year to sign up

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermatt

...and Stone of course

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermatt

Bailey can blame disinformation all he wants. But then stop claiming that these changes don't change anything when you ARE changing the format. Can you imagine if DiCaprio had to get his awards during a commercial? It would never happen to any high profile person. If it is not ok for them, it shouldn't be ok for anyone. Honestly, there need to be resignations.

While we are here can we also get the honorary Oscars back on the main telecast? Maybe start earlier and timing wouldn't be a problem. Did anyone complain about the length of the Superbowl? I know this years' was boring but the length wasn't the problem.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTom G.

I am glad to see this happening. If only it had happened when BAFTA made the same cuts.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterevangelina

I don’t understand why every actors name is not on this list?! All it would take is royalty like Meryl Streep to speak out against this!

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

Best Tweet: @Barrenrun
"The Academy can’t figure out how to fit 24 awards into 130 minutes of programming. Maybe they should hire a good editor."

Best Insight: Indiewire on method behind the madness being ABC's possible plans to move the free broadcast to a future Disney streaming channel.

It seems to me the blame should be spread wider. Clearly most of the pressure on the Executive and Board of Governors is from Disney/ABC which is the real source of the stupidity about the length of the show.
They need some trusted people with a spine to steer things through this crisis and re-negotiate their TV contract with a friendlier network.
This whole mess has made the Oscars look badly out of touch with it's membership and it's whole reason for existence. I'm appalled and the only thing cheering me up are the twitter comments academy members.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

The next step should be for all of the non-nominees who signed to boycott this year's Oscars. It's simple, isn't it? They want stars to present and attend, then the likes of Clooney/Bullock/Pitt should tell them no until they change this.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterkin

Like adding things onto bills in parliament, why were’t tentative anti category fraud measures (or an acknowledgment of the issue), and the push for makeup/hairstyling to have five nominees included.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHarold

Regina King has been vocal about her opposition to the changes to the broadcast as well. I'm not sure how people get their names on the letter, but I wouldn't assume the signatories to it represent the sum total of people in show business who believe all 24 categories should be presented on the broadcast.

February 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Just one comment: A part of this letter does exactly what is being criticized. It says:

... announced that this year’s Oscar presentations for Best Cinematography —along with Film Editing, Live Action Short and Makeup and Hairstyling— will not be broadcast live...

By saying "... Best Cinematorgraphy — along with..." they are implying that Best Cinematography is more important than the other three.

I am surpised they missed that.

February 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

@Marcos - I don't think it was purposefully insidious. I think it was because the original letter was undersigned just by Cinematographers and Directors until others joined in. So it was probably started by the ASC or someone related to Cinematography.

February 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Wow, this is damning. Is "disinformation" code for information the Academy prefers to ignore? Because that's what it seems like to me!

There's no way Bailey survives this. Hudson ought to be on her way out, too, after all of these missteps and unforced errors.

February 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Mission accomplished!!! They've just announced they're presenting all in the telecast...

February 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

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