The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is trying to reassure its members after its decision not to air four awards live at the Oscars triggered a wave of criticism.
Hollywood luminaries such as Brad Pitt, Emma Stone and Quentin Tarantino have come out against the decision to limit the broadcast of awards for Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short, and Makeup and Hairstyling.
It’s an effort to keep the show no longer than three hours. As NPR’s Bob Mondello reported, last year’s show ran “three hours and 53 minutes while garnering the lowest U.S. viewership in Oscars history.”
The awards would still be presented during the ceremonies, but they’ll be aired later in with some parts edited out, such as the award winner walking to the stage.
“We’d like to assure you that no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others,” Academy officials said in a letter to its membership.
The Academy leadership noted that this will continue in future years, on a rotating basis by category. “This year’s categories will be exempted in 2020,” their letter stated.
It suggested that the torrent of criticism for the decision, which was announced in another letter to members on Monday, was attributable to “inaccurate reporting and social media posts.”
Still, many in the industry see it as a slight to people crucial to making movies.
“What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to not publicly honor the people’s who’s job it is to literally film things,” actor Seth Rogen said in a tweet.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi cinematographer Steve Yedlin tweeted this critique of the change: “TV show whose sole purpose is to package for public consumption the celebration of cinema craft announces that celebration of cinema craft is too boring for public consumption.”
Alfonso Cuaron, director of the 10-time Oscar nominated film Roma, said: “In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound, without color, without a story, without actors and without music. No one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.”
More than 300 cinematographers, directors, actors and filmmakers signed a letter calling on the Academy to reverse the decision.
“The Academy was founded in 1927 to recognize and uphold excellence in the cinematic arts, inspire imagination and help connect the world through the universal medium of motion pictures,” their letter reads. “Unfortunately, we have drifted from this mission in our pursuit of presenting entertainment rather than in presenting a celebration of our art form and the people behind it.”
This year’s awards have faced other controversies. The Academy had floated including a new “popular film” category, then walked that back, saying it “merits further study.” And, the Oscars will not feature a host this year, after comedian Kevin Hart bowed out of the role over anti-gay language in his past tweets.