Disney, Pixar drawn back to ASIFA

Animation org revises Annie voting among other changes

After stepping away from the Annie Awards last year over concerns about how the kudos were judged, the Mouse House has quietly returned to ASIFA-Hollywood.

“We met with all the studios, but most especially with Disney and Pixar, who had walked away from us for various reasons, mostly to do with the Annies,” said Frank Gladstone, president of ASIFA-Hollywood. “I told the executives at Disney that we would do our best to fix that. We did. They wanted to come back, and most of the other executives we talked to also wanted them to come back. Not only Disney, but Disney TV, Disney Toons, Pixar. They’re all back. And they’re all submitting entries for the awards.”

“Everyone’s glad to be back on track,” said Disney spokesman Tony Angellotti. “Frank came in and addressed our concerns right away.”

Gladstone took over as ASIFA-Hollywood prexy in March, replacing longtime prexy Antran Manoogian, with a mandate to update the org. At the time, Gladstone said he wanted to make some significant changes, including updating membership qualifications, establishing a representative voice for every animation studio and creative technique, building an advisory board of animation professionals and revising the voting structure of the Annies.

A studio advisory committee has been established and will meet two to three times a year with the ASIFA board. “We’ll report on what we’re doing, and we’ll get advice from the studios that we can take or not take to help us grow,” Gladstone said. “The main studios are all represented.”

Other changes include new rules for voting. Only ASIFA-Hollywood members who are animation professionals, recognized for their work in a creative capacity on a qualified production, are eligible to vote.

The deadline for submissions to the Annie Awards has closed, and the org is putting together a nominations panel that will meet the second week in November. “They will nominate as many as they want to this year,” Gladstone said. “We used to do just five, but now it’s 15.” He said 12,000 members have registered as voters. Winners will then be determined by a final committee who will look at the top vote-getters.

Gladstone said they based the new method on other major kudos, like the Oscars and the Emmys, “but it isn’t quite the same as anybody else. The studios are all looking at us and saying, ‘We’re going to give you the leeway to perfect this.’ And I think we’ve come up with a way to make the voting as fair and reliable as possible.”

Other changes include new award categories: editorial animation for features and TV, animated special production and a members’ favorite award, to be voted on by the complete ASIFA membership, not just animation professionals.

While many changes at ASIFA-Hollywood are well on the way, the org has a few goals yet to be met.

“We’re still looking for a television deal, ” Gladstone said, admitting that it’s late in the year. “We’re hoping to get an endowment for the (animation) archive.” An office staff would also be helpful to serve the org’s more than 5,000 members, he said.

The Annie Awards will be held Feb. 4 at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

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