Effective April 1, Leslie Unger will become director of communications for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, replacing John Pavlik, who will retire following the 79th Academy Awards.
Unger joined the Acad staff in 1992 when Pavlik founded the department after AMPAS took its public relations operation inhouse.
Unger, who is the Acad’s publicity coordinator, told Daily Variety, “John and I started the communications department here more than 14 years ago, so he is an enormous part of my professional career. The notion of being here without him is highly unusual and will take a great deal of getting used to, but I’m excited for the opportunity to carry on all of the great things that John has been part of implementing. And I hope to bring some new great things to the department.”
Pavlik added, “Leslie’s just wonderful. She’s as bright as they come and very organized. She’ll be terrific for the Academy. They’ll be in good hands with her.”
Of his retirement, Pavlik told Daily Variety, “It just seemed like time. A little relaxation and travel will be nice for a change. “I grew up in the Midwest and came to town when I was 28 years old and Hollywood was this fabled place. I’ve been working for the Academy for 20 years, but it seems like it’s been a quick jog.”
Pavlik served as the Academy’s executive administrator from 1979-82 and as director of the five-year endowment campaign for the Acad’s Margaret Herrick Library from 1989-93.
Academy executive director Bruce Davis said “John has been aware for some months that he would be retiring after the 79th Academy Awards so he has been making most of the preparations. He’s been involving Leslie in almost every aspect of his job, and she’s been shadowing him in addition to doing her own job. She’s been attending board meetings which she hadn’t done before. Ric Robertson and I will sit down once we’ve recovered from the Oscars and listen to her ideas, but I dont expect wholesale changes in the department.”