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Academy Clamps Down on Campaign Violations, Social Media

Academy Clamps Down on Campaign Violations, Social Media

Now behave! That’s what the Motion Picture Academy is basically saying to the cadres of Oscar campaigners and studio marketing departments with Oscar statues in their sights. ‘Tis the season when filmmakers and talent are trotted around to panels, receptions, and multiple guild Q and As. Academy members often belong to various guilds. Thus writers will be invited to WGA panels as WGA, not Academy members, producers and editors and costume designers, the same. And many distributors throw DVD release events with Academy members conveniently invited. Will Academy party organizers such as Colleen Camp and Peggy Siegal (pictured) be put out of business?

According to the latest rules laid down for the 84th Oscar Show, here and below, after the Academy announcement on January 24, Academy members should not participate in more than two panels. “Academy-sanctioned events and awards ceremonies presented by the various guilds, critics groups and other organizations are exempt.” That’s the ball game right there.

And movies should be screened in theaters. Warns Academy president Tom Sherak:

“These campaign regulations play an important role in protecting the integrity of the Academy Awards process and the distinction of the Oscar®. Above all, we want Academy members to see movies as they were meant to be seen, in a theatrical setting.”

That’s all very nice, but most Academy voters see their films on DVD screeners. Sherak isn’t prohibiting digital distribution of movies, as long as they confirm to regulations. So how is the Academy promoting theatrical presentation? They’re just saying it’s preferred. Digital delivery is how the movies will have to be seen in future should the Academy adopt–as they threaten to do–a pushed up Oscar date later on. That’s the only way the foreign films will be able to be shown in time.

And now the Academy is banning negative campaigning on social networks. Thus an Academy member isn’t supposed to badmouth someone else’s movie on Twitter or Facebook. Good luck with that.

Prior to the nominations announcement (January 24, 2012), there are no restrictions on screening events to which Academy members may be invited. These events may include the live participation of individuals involved with the film (Q&A panel discussions, etc.) as well as receptions with food and beverage. After the nominations have been announced, Academy members may continue be invited to screenings that have filmmaker participation elements but receptions are not permitted. While there is no restriction on the total number of screenings of a particular movie, no one individual from the film can participate in more than two panel discussions. Previously, Academy members could not be invited to any screening event that included live participation of the filmmaker(s) or a reception either before or after the nominations had been announced.

Additionally, after nominations are announced and until final polls close, members may not be invited to or attend any non-screening event that promotes or honors a nominated movie or individual nominee. Nominees themselves are also prohibited from attending such events. Academy-sanctioned events and awards ceremonies presented by the various guilds, critics groups and other organizations are exempt.

The regulations now emphasize that viewing motion pictures in a theatrical setting is highly preferred over any other viewing method. The distribution of screeners is still permitted, however, with specific restrictions on packaging and accompanying materials. The digital distribution of movies to Academy members is now acceptable, as long as the delivery method conforms to the regulations.

The long-standing ban on negative campaigning about other nominated films or individuals is now extended to social media platforms, and specific penalties are spelled out. Academy members will be subject to a one-year suspension for first-time violations and expulsion for any subsequent violations. As in the past, any form of advertising that includes quotes or comments – negative or positive – by Academy members is prohibited.

To read the complete Regulations Concerning the Promotion of Films Eligible for the 84th Academy Awards, go to: http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/rules/regulations.html.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

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