Times error pushes Acad to expound on screeners

As the Motion Picture Assn. of America decided to forgo Oscar screeners, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has tried to maintain a neutral position.

But over the weekend, the New York Times’ erroneous identification of Jack Valenti as the head of the Academy forced the org to issue a statement on its official position on whether studios should continue to mail out tapes and DVDs of Oscar contenders. “The Academy has absolutely nothing to do with studio ‘screeners,’ ” it read in part.

Obviously confusing the MPAA with the Acad, the New York Times reported on Saturday, “Mr. Valenti said he expected to have a signed agreement from the Academy’s seven member studios by early next week.”

That decision of course made by the MPAA and not the Acad.

The Acad quickly distanced itself from the controversy. In a statement from communications director John Pavlik, the Acad laid out its position on the matter: “We do not provide our membership lists to the studios, we do not mail out the tapes or DVDs, we do not facilitate their distribution in any way. We have always urged our members to see the films on the bigscreen the way they were intended to be seen and to base their judgments of the achievements contained in the films on those viewings, and not to vote based upon an image seen on the television screen.”

For its part, the Times says its mistake was introduced at the copy desk after the story was filed correctly. Bill McDonald, deputy culture editor, who edited the story, said, “The reporter had it right, and it was correctly rendered when we moved it to the copy desk. It doesn’t reflect any institutional ignorance on the part of the New York Times.”

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