Letter backfires on Beverly Hills brokerage firm

In the height of Oscar season, Academy members are finding their mailboxes filled with ballots, screening cassettes — and now junk mail.

In a letter that begins “Dear Academy member,” a BevHills-based brokerage firm offers its financial services to Oscar voters — the first time anyone has used the Academy list for non-Acad business.

The letter’s essence: Given this year’s uncertain labor situation, you should be concerned about your financial future.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences prexy Robert Rehme fired off a missive to members emphasizing that the mailing “was neither authorized nor aided by the Academy in any way.” He pointed out that the studios and publications have compiled lists of members, concluding that it’s not surprising that someone would “eventually decide to make a buck” by selling its list.

AMPAS exec administrator Ric Robertson called the financial com-pany — which he declined to name — and pointed out that the letter was backfiring, resulting in a number of complaints from members.

The BevHills company wouldn’t divulge its source, but said it listed only 600-800 of the Acad’s 5,000-plus members. Company vowed to not use it again.

Speaking of unsolicited wooing, some Academy members are wondering if they can expect more phone calls this year from the Wall Street Journal, trying to jump the gun on Oscar results.

Last year, the paper telephoned about 350 of the Acad’s voters and asked their favorites, in an effort to predict the winners.

“We never talk in advance about what we are or aren’t going to publish,” said Dick Tofel, spokesman for the Wall Street Journal. Insiders at the paper said they haven’t heard of any plans for a repeat.

Though the paper had a good accuracy rate in the top categories, on-lookers say it’s unlikely that the paper will repeat the poll as it resulted in a lot of ill will in Hollywood and a lot of PR headaches for the paper.

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