Woody? Hanks would

Multiple-Oscar winner chairing animation committee

You’ve gotta figure Tom Hanks is a busy guy. Movie star extraordinaire, preeminent actor of our time, apex of the A-list, television miniseries producer — there’s just no way Hanks wakes up and says, “Golly, I sure wish I had something to do today.”

All the more impressive then that Hanks has taken on the post of chairman of the Animated Feature Film Award Screening Committee, a 100-plus group of academy voters who’ll nominate three finalists for the best animated feature category.

His duties include overseeing the screenings for his fellow committee members, and serving as liaison with the executive committee of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of the Academy.

It’s not exactly a cabinet-level post — policy is made by the executive committees — but even two-time Oscar winners have to work their way up the Academy ladder.

“He’s given a lot of his time and been very active in the Academy,” says an AMPAS spokesman. Last summer, Hanks was elected to the office of governor in the Acad’s actors’ branch, finishing out the final year in the term vacated by a retiring Gregory Peck.

But when the Academy’s executive committee of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch determined that there were enough films to trigger the brand new feature animation Oscar category, AMPAS prexy Frank Pierson asked Hanks to chair the screening committee.

Hanks has played a seminal role in the current feature animation renaissance, starring as Woody the plucky toy cowboy in two of the most celebrated toons of the decade, “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2.” But since he was not involved in any of this years’ animated features, Academy officials said, he was free of conflicts of interest.

The committee’s screeners are volunteers from all branches of the academy. About half are members of the Short Film and Feature Animation branch of the academy, and half are invitees from the other 13 branches. The academy hasn’t released names of the committee members.

Originally, the Academy announced nine contenders for the toon Oscar. But later, a 10th film — “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust” — was added to the eligible list.

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