Why did the Oscars remove several categories from their live stream?
Ahead of the 94th Academy Awards, the Academy decided to scrap several categories from its live-action ceremony — a move that has already garnered quite a bit of backlash from creators who felt the decision undermined their work.
According to Variety, the Academy warned affected groups in a zoom call that quickly turned sour. During the meeting, members of the Rewards Board of Directors – Shawn Finnie (Executive Vice President of Membership and Rewards), Christine Simmons (Chief Operating Officer of AMPAS), Jennifer Todd (Governor of the producer branch) and Dawn Hudson (CEO of the Academy) – explained that they wanted to modify the historically long ceremony. To do so, the awards for Original Music, Makeup and Hair, Documentary Short, Film Editing, Production Design, Animated Short, Live Action Short and sound will be announced before the live shoot and aired throughout the night.
There were reportedly 40 people on the call and many alternatives suggested tightening up the show given the Academy’s timing gigs. In the end, they were shut down and told the decision was final. Variety was able to speak with two sources, who asked to remain anonymous as they are up for awards this year about their reaction to the news.
“It sends a strong message about prioritizing specific branches and filmmakers within the community,” said one producer. “I think there would be other ways the Academy could still present these awards live and pick up the pace of the show as a whole. This specific choice seems a bit lacking in creativity.
“Regulating us in this way is so disrespectful,” another source said.
American Cinema Editors’ board also released a statement criticizing the choice to remove certain categories. “We are deeply disappointed with the Academy’s decision to change how certain categories, including film editing, will be presented on the Oscars telecast,” they said. “It sends the message that some creative disciplines are more vital than others. Nothing could be further from the truth and anyone who makes movies knows that. As a group of artists entirely dedicated to advancing the art and prestige of film editing, we believe passionately that editing – and all other creative disciplines that are part of the collaborative part of filmmaking – should be treated in the same way. Our contributions to this collaboration may sometimes seem invisible, but they are undeniable. We hope that the film editors and other artists impacted by this change will be honored and celebrated with the passion, dignity and inclusion they deserve.
While it came as a surprise to many, the Oscars isn’t the first awards show to drop categories from its live-action ceremony. More recently, the Tonys and Grammys have also implemented this tactic. Awards shows have become less popular in recent years, leaving producers scrambling to find solutions to boost viewership.
Steve Urban, the vice president of Motion Picture Sound Editors, sympathized with the new Oscar schedule. “It must not have been an easy conclusion for the Academy to draw,” he said. “Sound is crucial to keeping a title vital, kinetic and relevant. Cinema sound editors applaud every Oscar nominee. We know how powerful that sound can be.
As the saying goes, the show must go on, and the Oscars will. The awards ceremony will take place on March 27 at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. Viewers at home can tune in at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.