Acad trims honoraries to shorten kudocast

Other changes affect screenplays, producers, short docus

As part of an ongoing attempt to cut down the Oscarcast running time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ board of governors has voted to trim the honorary awards.

According to the official rules for the Acad’s 75th Oscarcast disclosed Tuesday, AMPAS governors have agreed to toughen up the selection process and voting procedures for all honorary nods — the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and honorary Oscars. They will thus limit the number of honoraries presented each year to one or, at most, two.

That should decrease the show’s length. While not every honorary award is presented each year, the recent average has been three per year. This year’s kudocast handed out two honorary Oscars (Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier), while Arthur Hiller was feted with the Humanitarian nod.

The previous year, Dino De Laurentiis was presented the Thalberg, and Ernest Lehman and Jack Cardiff were given Oscars.

The new procedure requires that two-thirds of the governors be present to vote on an award, and three-fourths of the governors will have to endorse a candidate for a second award. Nominating and voting in all three-award categories will be conducted as a single procedure.

Producer restrictions

Other notable changes in the new Acad rulebook include:

  • The deletion of the requirement that devices and inventions must be employed in the motion picture industry during the award year to be eligible for consideration for scientific and technical awards;

  • Simplification of the category names for the writing awards. The “screenplay based on material previously produced or published” category will now be known as the “adapted screenplay” category. “Screenplay written directly for the screen” will now be called “original screenplay.”

  • A change in the short docu category. Films that are reedited versions of earlier feature-length documentaries will no longer be considered;

  • Restrictions meant to insure that best picture nominations and awards go to producers who actually functioned as producers. If a nominated picture has more than the permissible three credited producers, and they can’t agree among themselves which three should be the nominees, the producers branch executive committee now has the option of identifying fewer than three producers as nominees.

The official rules booklet will be sent out the first week of August. Rules are reviewed annually by branch and category committees, and submitted to the Awards Rules Committee, which then reviews all proposed changes and presents its recommendations to the board of governors.

The 75th annual Academy Awards ceremony is skedded for March 23, 2003.

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