A few days after an unprecedented taking back of an Oscar nomination, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has offered further explanation of their motivation.
Some background: On Tuesday night, the Academy’s Board of Governors voted to take back the Original Song nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” from the film of the same name. With music by Bruce Broughton and lyric by Dennis Spiegel, the decision was “prompted by the discovery that Broughton, a former Governor and current Music Branch executive committee member, had emailed members of the branch to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period.”
Bruce Broughton decided to take to Facebook to openly voice his outrage, posting the following on the evening of January 29th:
How do I feel? I feel as though I’m the butt of a campaign to discredit
a song, the nomination of which caught people by surprise. As many of
you have noted, the campaigning on the other songs is epic compared to
my simple email note. The marketing abilities of the other companies
before and after the nomination far outstrip anything that this song was
able to benefit from.
We learned this morning that the song will appear on Billboard’s charts shortly. Somebody’s listening to it. Somebody likes it.
most of all, I feel sullied, and I feel disappointed not only for me,
but for Dennis Spiegel, who wrote a lovely (and although hardly anyone
has noticed), truly ecumenical lyric which helped drive the story in the
film, and for the unassailable Joni Eareckson, whose vocal on the song
breathed real life into it.
So, if you’re really upset by this
miserable turn of events, I appreciate your notes enormously (I also
read Belinda’s page), but let the Academy know.
This afternoon, the Academy — perhaps as a result of Broughton’s vocal protest — decided it wants us to know a little more about their decision to revoke Broughton’s nomination. This is the statement they released:
The Board of Governors’ decision to rescind the Original Song nomination for ‘Alone Yet Not Alone,’ music by Bruce Broughton, was made thoughtfully and after careful consideration. The Academy takes very seriously anything that undermines the integrity of the Oscars voting process. The Board regretfully concluded that Mr. Broughton’s actions did precisely that.
The nominating process for Original Song is intended to be anonymous, with each eligible song listed only by title and the name of the film in which it is used—the idea being to prevent favoritism and promote unbiased voting. It’s been a long-standing policy and practice of the Academy—as well as a requirement of Rule 5.3 of the 86th Academy Awards Rules—to omit composer and lyricist credits from the DVD of eligible songs that are sent to members of the Music Branch. The Academy wants members to vote for nominees based solely on the achievement of a particular song in a movie, without regard to who may have written it.
Mr. Broughton sent an email to at least 70 of his fellow Music Branch members—nearly one-third of the branch’s 240 members. When he identified the song as track #57 as one he had composed, and asked voting branch members to listen to it, he took advantage of information that few other potential nominees are privy to. As a former Academy Governor and current member of the Music Branch’s executive committee, Mr. Broughton should have been more cautious about acting in a way that made it appear as if he were taking advantage of his position to exert undue influence. At a minimum, his actions called into question whether the process was ‘fair and equitable,’ as the Academy’s rules require. The Academy is dedicated to doing everything it can to ensure a level playing field for all potential Oscar contenders—including those who don’t enjoy the access, knowledge, and influence of a long-standing Academy insider.