Academy reverses decision, will air all Oscars categories live

Published: February 17, 2019 14:13:32 | Updated: February 19, 2019 17:44:08

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Facing mounting pressure from its members, the Motion Picture Academy announced that it will present all 24 Oscar categories live during its Feb 24 broadcast on ABC.

The Academy confirmed on Friday that all four of the categories that were to be presented during commercial breaks, followed by taped replays later in the show, will instead be presented live during the Oscars telecast. The initial decision was made to address pressure to shorten the show, which last year ran 3 hours and 53 minutes.

The Academy's brief statement rolling back the earlier decision said that it "has heard the feedback from its membership regarding the Oscar presentation of four awards — Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short, and Makeup and Hairstyling." The statement continued: "All Academy Awards will be presented without edits, in our traditional format. We look forward to Oscar Sunday, February 24."

American Society of Cinematographers president Kees van Oostrum wrote a letter to the Academy, thanking it "with great pride and respect," while saying "it was clear to us from the outset that the original decision was difficult, making your current direction that much more brave." He added that ASC looks forward to working closely with the Academy.

An open revolt began and grew after, on Monday, Academy president John Bailey, who belongs to the cinematographers branch, laid out the plan for this year's show, which included the presentation of four Oscar categories — cinematography, film editing, live-action shorts and makeup and hairstyling — during commercial breaks (a break with tradition that was first announced last year but without details and specific categories), followed by video of the presentation later in the broadcast. In that letter to members, Bailey emphasised that the Academy is "still honouring the achievements of all 24 awards on the Oscars."

The Academy had decided to adopt the new format in an effort to shorten the length of the show. According to the Academy, the branches representing the four announced categories had volunteered to take part in the new format this year. The plan called for a rotation each year, so that at least four different categories would be presented under the format in 2020, according to Hollywood Reporter.

As the outcry to reverse the decision grew, American Society of Cinematographers members including president Kees van Oostrum, Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki, Hoyte va Hoytema and Rachel Morrison meet with Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and Academy president John Bailey (who is himself both a cinematographer and an ASC member) on Thursday night. Van Oostrum described the meeting as "very productive and positive."

Earlier, on Wednesday, an open letter to the Academy and show producers Donna Gigliotti and Glenn Weiss was posted, calling on the Academy to reverse its plans. It has since been signed by more than 200 cinematographers, 75 directors including Martin Scorsese, Alfonso Cuaron and Spike Lee; 80 actors including Bradley Copper, Glenn Close and Emma Stone; as well as members of other branches such as producers, editors and VFX supervisors.

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