Valenti and Studios Stick With Ban, Tapes for Academy Members Only
by Eugene Hernandez
Against the opposition of a number of critics groups and film organizations, Jack Valenti and the heads of the Hollywood studios have decided to stick with an awards season screener ban that will only allow tapes for members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Valenti recently sat down with a number of groups, including IFP, to discuss the wide ban of screeners and notified them on Friday that the ban stands as is.
Michelle Byrd and Dawn Hudson, heads of the Independent Feature Project chapters in New York and Los Angeles respectively, met with Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) chief Jack Valenti who then took their concerns to the Hollywood studio heads. Reps from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (presenters of the Golden Globes), the Screen Actors Guild, and critics groups also met with the MPAA head to advocate a lifting of the ban, to allow screeners for all. As promised, Valenti got back to the groups last week, but not with the answer they had hoped for.
"We feel that he personally has been very accessible and available and open to hearing different points of view on the matter," Byrd told indieWIRE on Friday. "There is now a finality to the decision, closure is important, because with closure you are able to then make decisions."
"To extend screeners beyond the Academy would just demand so many thousands more screeners, which would greatly increase the risk of piracy," Valenti told the Los Angeles Daily News on Friday. "That's a risk that the studios aren't willing to take."
The recent decision to allow screeners for Academy members who sign an affidavit promising that they will not let the tapes out of their control was described as a one year "experiment." Byrd told indieWIRE on Friday that Valenti was open to having the IFP involved with ongoing discussions about piracy.