Oscars and Academy Museum On Track, Says President Cheryl Boone Isaacs

Cheryl Boone Isaacs

Cheryl Boone Isaacs on Wednesday said her proudest accomplishment last year was the Oscarcast, while goals for next year include “extending our global footprint.” And, yes, she confirmed, the Academy Museum is still on track for a 2017 opening.

As she begins her second one-year term as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Boone Isaacs said the success of the March 2 Oscar show was a good sign for next year’s event.

“As you know, it’s a big event,” she deadpanned. “It really is a world event, and it highlights the entire year in the motion picture business. Working with Craig and Neil (Zadan and Meron, who will produce the Feb. 22 event for the third consecutive year) was — excuse the expression — a boon for me. Once you’ve gone through it, you’re even more prepared for the next time, which is why I wanted to have them on board next year.”

She said working with them was “a wonderful experience” and she praised the results. Those included the fact it drew Oscar’s biggest viewership in 14 years, 1 billion impressions on Twitter and 25 million interactions on Facebook.

As for the coming year, “There are many things I want to accomplish and a number of programs we want to keep steady — and grow if we can.” She said the Acad team is “very proud of all our programs,” but she mentioned specifically the growth in the Governors Awards, the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, and the Student Academy Awards, which have all recognized talent, including the next generation, which she said is important.

Last year, soon after her election, Boone Isaacs told Variety that a top priority would be to add more voices to the Academy, so that it better reflects the diversity in language, gender and race in the world of filmmaking — and to work with Hollywood to add these voices. “We continue extending our global footprint; it’s a constant process,” she said. She traveled a lot in this past year, and will continue to do so, “to really focus on all of our members,” including those outside Hollywood. “All members are both advocates and ambassadors to this organization, and our efforts will continue in supporting filmmakers and looking at the next generation.”

She reiterated that work on the museum is progressing well. “We are so happy to have Kerry Brougher on board; there couldn’t be a better person to lead us. He and (designer) Renzo Piano have a great rapport” and are doing good work.

For the second consecutive year, the board on Tuesday elected a slate of officers predominantly from artisan categories. Over the years, some have proposed downplaying these branches on the telecast, so is the officer slate a statement?

Boone Isaacs, who has always been an advocate of craft equality, downplayed the question. “I’d like to think they were selected because they’ve gained the confidence of the board. Everyone is equal. Everyone’s contributions, thoughts and ideas are valued. The board is made up of 17 branches and these governors are professionals at the top of their game, elected by their peers.”

For the record, the slate includes Boone Isaacs, of the PR branch; first VP Jeffrey Kurland (costume designers); veepees Leonard Engelman (makeup artists/hairstylists) and John Bailey (cinematography); and secretary Bill Kroyer (short films/feature animation). The exception is treasurer Dick Cook, of the executives branch.

Last year, the board also included writer Phil Robinson and John Lasseter (a member of the shorts/animation branch, but a big presence both as a filmmaker and executive).

Boone Isaacs’ election as president last year was presumably based on her years of work at the Acad. But her reelection is arguably more significant, since it’s an affirmation that she’s done well in the past year. “I am very humbled,” she said, with a slight pause. “I get a little emotional. It’s very gratifying and I appreciate the support. I think very highly of the Academy.”

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