‘Moonlight,’ ‘Fences,’ ‘Hidden Figures’ and Actors of Color Make Oscar History

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 08: (L-R) Actors Trevante Rhodes and Naomie Harris, director Barry Jenkins, actors Ashton Sanders, Janelle Monae and Mahershala Ali of 'Moonlight,' winner of Best Motion Picture - Drama, pose in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 08: (L-R) Actors Trevante Rhodes and Naomie Harris, director Barry Jenkins, actors Ashton Sanders, Janelle Monae and Mahershala Ali of ‘Moonlight,’ winner of Best Motion Picture – Drama, pose in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

article by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Reversing course from last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored “Moonlight,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and other people of color-centered works with Oscar nominations today (January 24).

The three films, each of which features a predominantly Black cast, compete in the “Best Picture” and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” categories. Actresses Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) also square off for best “Actress in a Supporting Role.”

“Moonlight”‘s eight nominations are the most of any film this year besides the musical “La La Land.” They include “Best Director” and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” for Barry Jenkins, and “Actor in a Supporting Role” for Mahershala Ali.

“Fences” star and director Denzel Washington received a best “Actor in a Leading Role” nomination. Playwright August Wilson‘s script, based on his original 1983 play, earned him a posthumous “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” nod.

Other acting nominees of color include Ruth Negga (“Loving”) for “Actress in a Leading Role” and Dev Patel (“Lion”) for “Actor in a Supporting Role.” Patel is the first performer of South Asian descent to receive an acting Oscar nomination since Ben Kingsley for 2000’s “Sexy Beast.”

Ava DuVernay‘s “13th,” Raoul Peck‘s “I Am Not Your Negro” and Ezra Edelman‘s “O.J.: Made in America” each received Documentary (Feature) nominations. The category also includes another Black director’s work: Roger Ross Williams“Life, Animated,” and Joi McMillon became the first black female to be nominated in the Editing category for “Moonlight.”

This year’s nominations are far more diverse overall than last year’s, and NBC News reports that this year’s acting nominee pool is the most diverse in Oscar history.

To read more, go to: http://www.colorlines.com/articles/moonlight-fences-and-actors-color-make-oscar-history

Motion Picture Academy Academy Increases Diversity Push by Adding Three Governors

Reginald Hudlin Gregory Nava Jennifer Yuh

Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Gregory Nava and Reginald Hudlin (REX SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Tim Gray via Variety.com

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences furthered its efforts at diversity by adding three members to the board of governors, and six members to various board committees.

The board OK’d president Cheryl Boone Isaacs’s choices of Reginald Hudlin (directors branch), Gregory Nava (writers branch) and Jennifer Yuh Nelson (short films and feature animation). They will serve three-year terms, effective immediately.

“I’m proud of the steps we have taken to increase diversity,” said Boone Isaacs. “However, we know there is more to do as we move forward to make this a more inclusive organization.”

The board also appointed additional Academy members to each of the six board committees that provide oversight to specific Academy areas.

Actor Gael García Bernal joins the awards and events committee, chaired by first VP Jeffrey Kurland. Cinematographer Amy Vincent joins the preservation and history committee, chaired by VP John Bailey. Producer Effie Brown joins the museum committee, chaired by VP Kathleen Kennedy. Executive Marcus Hu and animator Floyd Norman join the education and outreach committee, chaired by VP Bill Kroyer.

Executive Vanessa Morrison joins the finance committee, chaired by treasurer Jim Gianopulos. Producer Stephanie Allain joins the membership and administration committee, chaired by secretary Phil Robinson.

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Amid #OscarsSoWhite Backlash, the Academy Announces Plans To Double Minority Membership By 2020

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs (photo via hellobeautiful.com)

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs (photo via hellobeautiful.com)

In a unanimous vote Thursday night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences‘ 51-member board of governors approved a sweeping series of changes designed to diversify its membership, the academy said in a statement Friday.

The board committed to doubling the number of women and minority members in the academy by 2020.

AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced the plan Friday after many of Hollywood’s A-listers slammed the organization for their all-white award nominees.  “The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” she said in a statement.

The board approved reforms late Thursday to “begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition,” Isaacs explained.

It also approved a series of changes limiting members’ lifetime voting rights. “Beginning later this year, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years, and will be renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade,” the academy statement said. “In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three 10-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. We will apply these same standards retroactively to current members. In other words, if a current member has not been active in the last 10 years they can still qualify by meeting the other criteria. Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to emeritus status. Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting. This will not affect voting for this year’s Oscars. ”

The swift and drastic change comes in response to a protest over an all-white slate of acting nominees for the second year in a row.

The move follows pledges by director Spike Lee and actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith to stay home from the Oscar telecast on Feb. 28, and calls for a boycott of the show online.

For the last three years, the awards body has been in the midst of a push for more diversity, inviting larger and demographically broader groups to join its 6,261 voting members. But given the size of the academy, and the fact that members belong for life, any change to the organization’s overall demographics had been incremental.

The academy will also launch a campaign to identify and recruit new members who represent greater diversity, the statement said, and will add new members who are not governors to its executive and board committees to influence key decisions about membership.

article by Rebecca Keegan via latimes.com; additions from Keyaira Kelly via hellobeautiful.com

Reginald Hudlin to Produce Oscar Telecast in 2016

Reginald Hudlin (photo via pepperdine.edu)

Reginald Hudlin (photo via pepperdine.edu)

According to Variety.com, filmmaker (“Boomerang”, “House Party”) and producer Reginald Hudlin will produce the 88th Academy Awards with veteran live television events producer  David Hill. The Awards will be held Feb. 28, 2016.

Hudlin is an Oscar-nominated producer for “Django Unchained,” and last year produced the Governors Awards. He has been the executive producer of the NAACP Image Awards since 2012. Hudlin was the first president of entertainment for BET Networks from 2005-09.

Hill was a longtime 21st Century Fox/News Corp. executive who stepped down in June to launch a production banner that focused on live TV events. Hill is known for his skill at overseeing live sports production, and was key in building Fox Sports; in recent years he’s overseen “American Idol” for the Fox network.

“We’re delighted to have this talented team on board,” said AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “David is a true innovator with a dynamic personality.  His vast experience as a live events producer, coupled with Reggie’s energy, creativity and talent as a filmmaker, is sure to make this year’s Oscar telecast a memorable one.”

“I’m looking forward to working with the Academy again,” said Hudlin. “I love every kind of film, and this year’s awards will be a celebration of the total range of cinema.”

“We’re excited to work with David and Reggie,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “With their enthusiasm and breadth of experience, they will bring a fresh perspective to the Oscar show.”

New producers always come in with ambitious ideas but have to contend with demands from both AMPAS and ABC. Those include the constraints of how to add innovative elements while keeping the running time manageable. And there are many elements that have to be included, such as 24 awards, recaps of the Sci-Tech honors and the Governors Awards and the In Memoriam segment. In all, that means a producer has less than 45 minutes to include such options as an opening monologue, performance of nominated songs, etc.

For the record, here are the producers of the past decade: the 2006 ceremony, Gil Cates (hosted by Jon Stewart); 2007, Laura Ziskin (hosted by Ellen DeGeneres); 2008 Cates (Jon Stewart again); 2009 Laurence Mark & Bill Condon (Hugh Jackman); 2010 Bill Mechanic, Adam Shankman (Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin); 2011 Bruce Cohen, Don Mischer (James Franco, Anne Hathaway); 2012 Brian Grazer (after Brett Ratner exited; host, Billy Crystal).  Neil Meron and Craig Zadan produced the last three, which were hosted by Seth MacFarlane, Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris.

original article by Tim Gray; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

Spike Lee to Receive Governors Award from Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences

Spike Lee (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

Spike Lee (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

Spike Lee, Gena Rowlands and Debbie Reynolds will be honored Nov. 14 at the seventh annual Governors Awards.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences voted the awards at their Aug. 25 meeting. Following tradition, AMPAS representatives withheld the announcement until they could notify the recipients.

In 2009, the Academy broke out the Governors Awards into a separate, untelevised ceremony; the Oscarcast time constraints limited the number of honorees and the time devoted to each. So the separate ceremony was an experiment, but an immediate success. There was no pressure to select ratings-friendly individuals, and the board has often gone for people who are well-known in the industry but unfamiliar to the public.

The Academy can salute up to six people each year: four honorary Oscars, and one apiece for the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the Thalberg Award, which goes to a film producer for their body of work. It’s generally been four honorees, except for 2011, when there were three.

Lee and Rowlands will receive the annual honorary Oscars and Reynolds will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Continue reading

Motion Picture Academy Re-elects Cheryl Boone Isaacs as President

Cheryl Boone Isaacs has been reelected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Boone Isaacs, a veteran Hollywood marketer and longtime academy insider, was reelected Tuesday evening by the group’s 51-member board of governors.

Boone Isaacs, the first African American president of the movie industry’s most prominent organization, will enter her third one-year term. She is eligible to stay in the role for a total of four years.

In addition, Jeffrey Kurland was elected first vice president; John Bailey, Kathleen Kennedy and Bill Kroyer were elected to vice president posts; Jim Gianopulos was elected treasurer; and Phil Robinson was elected secretary.

Boone Isaacs and the academy’s board will have the task of selecting producers for the 2016 Oscar telecast and making decisions about the ambitious new Academy Museum, scheduled to open in 2017.

As head of CBI Enterprises Inc., Boone Isaacs has consulted on marketing efforts for such films as “The Artist,” “The King’s Speech” and “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.” Starting in September, she will serve as an adjunct professor at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University in Orange.

article by Rebecca Keegan via latimes.com

Academy of Motion Pictures Invites Record 322 New Members in Push for More Oscar Diversity

New AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs

AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs

According to Variety.com, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has made a concrete push for diversity, sending membership invitations to 322 individuals, including a healthy number of people who, if they accept, can help change the organization’s primarily white male demographics.

Among the invitees are “Selma” actor David Oyelowo, “Belle” and “Beyond the Lights” actor Gugu Mbatha-Raw, actor Kevin Hart, “Set It Off” and “Italian Job” director F. Gary Gray, “Best Man” director Malcolm D. Lee, “Amazing Grace” and “Beat Street” director Stan Lathan, “Selma” casting director Aisha Coley, Dreamworks executive Mellody Hobson, and “Frozen” animator Marlon West. The Academy has been reaching out to women, foreign-born artists and people of various races, ethnic backgrounds and ages.

Accusations of Academy bigotry surfaced yet again in January when the list of Oscar nominees included Caucasians in all 20 acting categories, and few women or racial minorities among the other categories. Director Ava DuVernay and actor Oyelowo of “Selma” had seemed like strong contenders, giving many people hopes of breakthroughs. After initial anger at the Academy, activists began to shift their protests to industry hiring practices.

The Academy last year sent 271 invitations, with 276 in 2013. For the years between 2004 and 2012, the average was 133. There is no guarantee that all will join, but it’s rare for people to decline. The Academy board voted on the list Tuesday, after recommendations from its membership committee.

CEO Dawn Hudson and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs have been pushing to broaden the organization’s makeup. Last year, Boone Isaacs told Variety that the 2014 new-member list “is a continuation of an initiative to bring in new voices. … The membership is becoming more and more a reflection of the world at large.”

Hudson and Boone Isaacs always stress that the outreach does not means a change in standards. Each branch has strict requirements on eligibility based on industry tenure and credits.  As of the most recent tally for 2014 voting, the Academy had 6,124 voting members. The “new voices” clearly constitute a tiny fraction of the group. But AMPAS officials are hoping that it can help can make a difference.

And as June 24-July 2 balloting is under way for board members, exactly one-third of the board are women: 17 out of 42. But it could get closer to 50-50 parity with the new crop, which includes a number of racial minorities and women among this year’s board contenders.

For a full list of invitees, click here.

original article by Tim Gray; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

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