The search for a new chief executive officer at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has escalated in recent weeks, multiple sources familiar with the process tell Variety.
Months ago, the organization behind the Oscars hired management consulting firm Korn Ferry to scout replacements for outgoing CEO Dawn Hudson, who previously announced she would step down by May 2023. Insiders close to AMPAS say she could depart sooner if her position is filled. Korn Ferry, known for identifying board members and C-suite executives for global corporations, has been reaching out to a number of qualified candidates of late.
Names being floated for the role include insider Bill Kramer, director and president of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures; David White, the former executive director of SAG-AFTRA who stepped down last May after 12 years at the guild (including a stint as general counsel, where helped guide SAG’s merger with AFTRA in 2012); and Keri Putnam, the former longtime Sundance CEO whose institutional knowledge of nonprofits and deep ties to the creative community would make her a strong candidate, if she is interested.
Susan Sprung, the national executive director and chief operating officer at the Producers Guild of America, has also been suggested as a contender. In step with Vance Van Petten, Sprung handles programs like the producers mark of distinction, green and DEI initiatives, and the annual Producers Guild Awards.
A representative for AMPAS had no comment on the CEO search. Putnam, White, Sprung and Kramer could not immediately be reached for comment.
Hudson’s departure was announced in October 2021, well ahead of her planned end date. It was said, and sources have reaffirmed to Variety, that she will play a “vital” role in the CEO transition. Hudson’s counterpart, AMPAS president David Rubin, was elected to his final eligible term in the summer of 2020. A new president will be elected in July.
Embattled in recent years, the Academy has had to deal with controversies including the 2015 #OscarsSoWhite storm, this year’s jaw-dropper when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage during the live show, pushback when the winners of eight categories were edited and condensed on the telecast as a time-saving measure, and for the decision to air results of a Twitter poll electing the year’s most popular film.
Moreover, people with close connections to the Academy concur that a top-to-bottom reorganization — under an unwieldy board of 54 members — needs to be enacted by a new CEO.