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Academy targets the Oscar blitz

May 01, 2003|Jon Burlingame | Special to The Times

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has taken initial steps to rein in the aggressive Oscar campaigning of the past couple of years.

The academy board of governors met Tuesday night for the first time since this year's awards ceremony, and academy President Frank Pierson said Wednesday that he will appoint a committee "to write some new rules."

What Pierson referred to as the "hyper-aggressive campaigning" of some major studios "threatens to undermine the credibility of the Oscar and what it symbolizes." The committee will consist of members of the board of governors, who will confer with studio executives and producers and will be "instructed to come back with specific suggestions for rules, penalties and policies" for approval by the full board, Pierson said.

"And in some cases, proposals that we can bring to the studios, because there are things that they can do which we can't do," Pierson added. Although there is no specific time frame for the report, Pierson indicated that any new rules or penalties will be in place "well before the end of the summer, so that everybody is going to know the rules of the game before we get into the game" for the next awards season.

Pierson -- himself a 1975 Oscar winner for the screenplay of "Dog Day Afternoon" -- said "this is something which we consider urgent. We feel that the industry at large shares our concern....I think that there are now open minds, and it's a real opportunity to do something constructive about it."

He said that "some specifics" of this past year's campaign were talked about at the meeting, but he declined to discuss them.

Many observers felt that the 2002 campaign was the worst in recent memory, with several studios pushing to the limit or exceeding the traditional boundaries in their drive to win at all costs.

The practices most often cited included the growing number of private parties, receptions, industry-audience Q&As with filmmakers and stars, and the questionable practice of testimonials in advertising.

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