Academy clamps down on who can receive an Oscar

June 24, 2005|By Robert W. Welkos | Robert W. Welkos,LOS ANGELES TIMES

The Academy Awards are tightening rules designed to clamp down on the number of Oscar statuettes given out to producers for best picture and also have turned down a request by Hollywood stuntmen to create an Oscar category for stunt coordinators.

This week's producers decision was hailed by the 2,000-member Producers Guild of America, which has been lobbying for years to curb the number of undeserving "produced by" credits on films.

But the decision by the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to reject a new stunts category came as a stinging blow to stunt coordinators, who stage those breathtaking action sequences seen in big Hollywood action movies.

Stuntmen reacted to the news Wednesday with anger and disappointment. Despite almost 15 years of failure in their efforts, they vowed to continue their lobbying for Oscar recognition and said they might even protest at next year's Oscar ceremonies.

The producers decision continues a campaign the academy has been waging ever since 1998's Shakespeare in Love won best picture, and a total of five producers, including then-Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, went up on stage to collect their golden statuettes.

The academy later ruled that three producers at most can receive Oscars for best picture but left it up to the producers to come up with three names.

Now, however, the decision will be taken out of the filmmakers' hands and given to the executive committee of the academy's producers branch. The committee will have the power to reduce the number of producers nominated to one if they determine that the others do not qualify.

"What we're doing is further reducing the possibility of someone receiving one of our highest awards without really having done the job of a producer," said academy President Frank Pierson.

Pierson also said the board of governors had rejected the request by stuntmen because "the board is simply not prepared to institute any new awards categories."

Veteran stuntman Jack Gill, who has lobbied 15 years to have the academy create an Oscar for his profession, said he was "baffled" by the board's decision.

"We are responsible for every piece of action in a movie, and action movies are bigger than they ever were," Gill said.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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