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Academy CEO Dawn Hudson Negotiating Contract Renewal

Dawn Hudson is on track for a three-year renewal of her AMPAS contract, according to insiders familiar with the negotiations.

The executive signed on as CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for three years in 2011. She is in the midst of negotiating to re-up for another three years, subject to approval by the board of governors at their May 6 meeting. Sources say that negotiations are going smoothly and while nothing is certain until the parties sign off, an extension seems likely.

Hudson is out of the country on Academy business and was unavailable for comment. A spokesperson for the org said they never talk about personnel matters.

Hudson was named head of the Academy in April 2011 and began work three months later.

She  joined the Academy from Film Independent and her hiring was a signal that the Academy, which has long and solid relationships with the studios, was interested in deepening its relationships with indies. The hiring process started when AMPAS’ longtime executive director Bruce Davis retired; the Acad split his duties between CEO Hudson and COO Ric Robertson, a longtime vet of the organization. Last Fall, Robertson stepped down from that role in what was described as an amicable split, and he continues to consult for the Academy.

Hudson’s early tenure was extremely rocky, as she ruffled some feathers at the staid Hollywood institution. Six months into her run, a Los Angeles Times article reported that there was a movement afoot to replace Hudson and buy her out of her contract. Critics said her style was at odds with the Academy. However, her defenders insisted that she was successfully carrying out her mandate to shake things up, rethink and update the Academy, in terms of its staffing, priorities and relationships with filmmakers.

The carping inside the Academy eventually died down and Hudson has since been credited with moving the org forward on several fronts. The Oscarcast ratings have been strong, museum plans are moving full-speed ahead, and Hudson has worked with Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs to diversify the membership of the organization, broadening the white/over-60/male demographic of the 6,000 members.

The two, along with other key Academy execs, have made an aggressive effort to woo members of different ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds, and to bring in more women. Hudson has also worked with Boone Isaacs on outreach programs and cultural exchanges with filmmakers and film orgs around the globe.

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