As dozens more directors and actors add their signatures to an open letter protesting the Academy of Motion Picture Arts of Sciences, Oscars producer Donna Gigliotti is speaking out in an attempt to calm the growing outrage (via Variety). The riff between the industry and the Academy comes from the decision to move four categories at the Oscars to the commercial breaks: Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Live Action Short, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. These categories will not be broadcast in real time on ABC but edited back into the telecast later in the show. All four categories will be live-streamed online as they are announced.
The question now facing the Oscars is just how exactly the show plans on editing back in the four moved categories. Academy president John Bailey previously told IndieWire he has seen how it will work and assures everyone there is nothing to worry about. Responding to the growing backlash, Gigliotti said the Academy doesn’t plan on editing any of the four winning speeches that will take place during commercial breaks.
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“If you stick within the 90 seconds, of course your entire speech is going to be on the air,” Gigliotti said.
At the Oscars Nominees Luncheon earlier this month, the Academy said winners will have 90 seconds starting from the time their name is called to head to the stage and deliver an acceptance speech. The 90-second rule applies to every category. As long as the winners for Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Live Action Short, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling adhere to the 90 second rule, then their speeches will make it into the broadcast unedited at a still-unspecified time. It remains to be seen what will happen if these winners go over the 90 second rule.
“Honestly, the experience of going up on the stage will not feel any different to the people who are called up,” Gigliotti said about the controversial new initiative. “There will be a film package. There will be clips. You’ll have 90 seconds: you’ll give your speech, you’ll have the Oscar in your hand. It will be a great moment. What happens in the edited version, you won’t really see the walk up to the stage. If they stick to the allotted time, of course nobody is going to edit their speech.”’
As for the backlash at large, Gigliotti said, “I wish they’d all call me up and I’d show them how it was going to work. When I took on this job, the Board of Governors had made this decision. And at that point in time, they had a proof of concept. Everybody is going on the air. I feel badly that people are so upset, because I think if they saw it, it would allay a lot of their concerns.”
Gigliotti’s statements arrived after Christopher Nolan, Denis Villeneuve, Brad Pitt, and more added their signatures to the open letter condemning the academy for moving the categories to commercial breaks. The letter states, “Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status in this 91st Academy Awards ceremony is nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession.”
Following Gigliotti’s comments, American Cinema Editors president Stephen Rivkin made a statement criticizing the Academy. “Although we understand the tremendous pressure put on the Academy by the ABC Network to shorten the show to three hours,” Rivkin said, “we cannot agree with any idea that diminishes the effort for which we have fought so hard: to promote and recognize Film Editing as the key creative position that it holds in the process of making a film.”
The 91st Academy Awards will be broadcast Sunday, February 24 at 8pm ET on ABC.