Los Angeles, California, USA: The Oscars will show all its awards live following a sustained outcry from prominent Hollywood stars over planned changes to the awards program.
George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Emma Stone, Sandra Bullock and Spike Lee were some of the powerful voices denouncing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ plans to cut four awards from the live broadcast in order to save time — a move the stars deemed an “insult.”
In a full reversal Friday, the film academy said all 24 categories will be shown live, after all, at the 91st Academy Awards on February 24.
“The Academy has heard the feedback from its membership regarding the Oscar presentation of four awards,” the Academy statement, obtained by USA TODAY, read. “We look forward to Oscar Sunday.”
On Monday, the Academy had ruled that the winning speeches for cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling and live-action short would take place during commercial breaks and air in taped, edited form later in the broadcast.
John Bailey, president of the Academy and a cinematographer, said in a letter to the membership that the move was imperative to “keep the show under three hours.” Following record-low ratings to last year’s broadcast, the Academy has made a swifter telecast a priority.
“So, buckle up! We are committed to presenting a show which we all will be proud of,” Bailey wrote in his letter.
The American Society of Cinematographers issued an open-letter, signed by Martin Scorsese, Pitt and others, calling the Academy’s plans an insult to the cinematic arts.
“When the recognition of those responsible for the creation of outstanding cinema is being diminished by the very institution whose purpose it is to protect it, then we are no longer upholding the spirit of the academy’s promise to celebrate film as a collaborative art form,” the letter read.
The Academy on Wednesday defended the decision and blamed “a chain of misinformation” on the backlash.
This is just the latest flip-flop by the Academy in its attempts to tweak the Oscars.
Last summer, they trotted out the induction of a “popular film Oscar.” The plan sparked such outrage (Rob Lowe pronounced the film industry dead, “survived by sequels, tent-poles and vertical integration”) that the new award was scuttled within a month.
Kevin Hart was announced as this year’s Oscar host only to withdraw days later when many took issue with his old homophobic tweets and the comedian initially “chose to pass on the apology.” The Oscars are now host-less for only the fifth time in its 91-year history.
After first planning to limit the best song nominee performances, the Academy confirmed that all songs will indeed be performed.