×

UTA Cancels Oscar Party to Protest Donald Trump’s Travel Ban

UPDATED: United Talent Agency has canceled its annual Academy Awards party and will instead donate $250,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union and the International Rescue Committee, and hold a rally “to express the creative community’s growing concern with anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States.”

The actions by UTA come in the wake of President Donald Trump’s ban on travel and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim nations, an action that has stirred a furor and multiple legal challenges.

UTA said its rally on Feb. 24, two days before the Oscars, is meant to combat the “potential chilling effect on the global exchange of ideas and freedom of expression.”

The action follows an outpouring of disdain from Hollywood for Trump and his ban on travel, which the president says is designed to increase the security of Americans, but that critics say unfairly targets innocent people, many of whom are attempting to flee persecution in the Middle East.

Trump’s travel ban hit close to UTA, according to a statement, because the firm represents Academy Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. Though nominated for another Oscar this year in the best foreign-language film category for “The Salesman,” Farhadi is skipping the awards ceremony on Feb. 26 to protest the “unjust” Trump ban.

“This is a moment that demands our generosity, awareness, and restlessness,” UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said in a letter to agency employees. “Our world is a better place for the free exchange of artists, ideas, and creative expression. If our nation ceases to be the place where artists the world over can come to express themselves freely, then we cease, in my opinion, to be America.”

When Farhadi received the news in Tehran about the agency’s action, he sent a text saying he is “honored and in tears,” according to UTA.

The agency will try to increase the donations to the ACLU and the immigration group by launching a CrowdRise fundraising campaign targeting the “broader creative community.”

Zimmer added: “When fear and division get the better of a society, artists are among the first to feel the impact — and to denounce the ill winds. With our words and our actions, the UTA family is speaking up for so many, including all artists and the vital global conversations they help lead.”

More Film

  • Fox Searchlight logo

    Film News Roundup: Fox Searchlight Launches Searchlight Shorts

    In today’s film news roundup, Fox Searchlight starts a shorts channel, Uma Thurman signs with ICM and Miramax signs animation exec Michael Lachance. SEARCHLIGHT SHORTS Fox Searchlight Pictures’ chairmen Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula have announced the launch of “Searchlight Shorts” as a collection of short films. The shorts are available on Fox Searchlight’s YouTube [...]

  • ImMature - cr: MX Player

    Indian Streamers Ramp up Original Productions

    Ever since global streaming giants Amazon Prime Video and Netflix entered the Indian OTT space in 2016, the conversation around original series has mostly revolved around them, thanks in part to market leader 21st Century Fox’s Hotstar’s circumspect attitude at the time about producing content. Netflix had great success with “Sacred Games,” while Amazon rode [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Hollywood Agents, Writers Guild Make Little Progress in Talks

    Leaders of Hollywood agencies and the Writers Guild of America made little progress in Tuesday meeting to negotiate proposed rule revisions to how agents represent writers. The WGA said after the meeting — the fifth since Feb. 5 — that talks would resume later this week but did not give a specific day. “The Agencies [...]

  • Village Rockstars

    Female Filmmakers Are a Growing Voice in India

    The Indian film industry has historically been a male-dominated one, but the winds of change are blowing across the country, albeit slowly. Better-served than the rest of the country is the Mumbai-based Hindi-language industry, where there are several active female filmmakers including Zoya Akhtar (“Gully Boy”), Reema Kagti (“Gold”), Leena Yadav (“Rajma Chawal”), Gauri Shinde [...]

  • Florence Pugh

    Scarlett Johansson's 'Black Widow' Movie Adds Florence Pugh

    “Black Widow’s” web may soon be growing. Sources tell Variety that Florence Pugh is in talks to join Scarlett Johansson’s standalone superhero film. Pugh has been on the hot list for this second lead role since last fall, but Marvel wanted to open up the field to other actresses at the beginning of the year. [...]

  • Mira Lesmana Sets up Indonesia Remake

    Mira Lesmana Sets Up Indonesian Remake of CJ's 'Sunny'

    Indonesia’s Miles Film and Korea’s CJ Entertainment are to co-produce an Indonesian remake of Korean hit “Sunny.” The film is a female-driven dramedy about a group of adult friends who reunite 20 years after high school. Directed by Kang Hyoung-chul, “Sunny” was one of the highest-grossing movies in Korea when it was released in 2011. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content