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Stuntmen making noise over Oscars

Demonstration timed to pressure AMPAS board

Renewing their push for a stunt coordinator Oscar, 75 members of Hollywood’s stunt community staged a raucous picket line Thursday outside the headquarters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills.

The demonstration was timed to bring pressure on the AMPAS board of governors, who on Tuesday will weigh a series of voting guidelines for the 2006 Academy Awards, including the stunt category.

“Stunt coordinators are the reason that action sequences come to life on screen,” said Jack Gill of Stunts Unlimited, who’s been pushing for the new Oscar for 14 years. “They are responsible for every aspect in the film from the smallest comedic pratfall to the most elaborate 100-vehicle car chase.”

The Academy gets frequent petitions to add categories, with stunts and title credits being the most frequent. But these requests come at a time that the Acad is also being pressured to cut the number of categories.

In the past 25 years, the org has added two categories: makeup in 1981 and feature animation four years ago.

“The theatergoing public acknowledges what we do,” said Conrad Palmisano of the Stuntmen’s Assn. of Motion Pictures. “Why doesn’t the Academy?”

Gill organized the event after becoming frustrated in his dealings with AMPAS and exec director Bruce Davis. “We are always getting told that the Academy’s interested in having less awards, not more,” he added.

AMPAS spokesman John Pavlik noted that creating a new award would take several years.

“We haven’t created a new category since the animated feature award four years ago, and that took over three years to happen,” he noted. “We are very rigorous about this.”

Just before the Oscarcast in February, the stunt community demanded the new category. At a pre-ceremony press conference to talk about the Oscars, Acad prez Frank Pierson rhetorically wondered why they were not pressuring the SAG Awards, since stunt coordinators are repped by the Screen Actors Guild.

The guild said it would weigh the request. The stunt Oscar push has gained support from SAG prexy Melissa Gilbert along with Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Jerry Bruckheimer, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert De Niro, Sidney Lumet and Peter Guber.

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