How can anyone forget the best picture mistake last year where Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced La La Land instead of Moonlight? This happened because they had mistakenly been handed an envelope for the best actress winner category, which went to Emma Stone in La La Land. This year, Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), the accounting firm responsible for the tabulation and winners, has put preventive measures into place so that never happens again. There are many new changes which will be implemented this year on Sunday, March 4th, 2018.
This year there will be numerous rehearsals with the celebrity presenters who will have to confirm they have the correct envelope prior to going onstage. There will now be a designated person who will sit with Oscar producers in the show’s control room and will have a complete list, having also committed the winners to memory. The prior years’ PwC stage-side delegates have been replaced and now both the celebrity presenter and a stage manager will confirm that they’ve been given the correct envelope for the category they are about to present. The last change is that PwC partners are prohibited from using cellphones or social media, so they stay focused only on the show.
In a unanimous vote last year, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved significant changes to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies, and its voting members significantly more diverse. The Board’s goal is to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020. Each new member’s voting status will last 10 years and will be renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade. Members will receive lifetime voting rights after three ten-year terms, or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to emeritus status. Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the benefits except voting but will not affect voting for this year.
A large global campaign will also be initiated to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent even more diversity. The Academy will establish three new governor seats for three-year terms and add new members who are not Governors to its executive and board committees where key decisions are made.
Profiting from one’s own list of Academy members has been quite a lucrative practice for industry consultants and publicists. Beginning this year, distributors will no longer be allowed to ship “for your consideration” screeners, screening invitations, screenplays or other such awards season promotional merchandise directly to voters. SAG, the Television Academy, and the DGA also use this mechanism to control their membership lists and to ensure their members are not “harassed” by studios or consultants. The Academy will administrate all fulfillment via a third party and charge a potentially profit-making fee in addition to covering shipping and handling. They did not act on a potential new policy on E-mailing members.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have unveiled 774 new members with total membership closer to 8,500, and a record number, up from last year’s 683. The invitees come from 57 countries, with 39% female and 30% people of color. Female membership is now at 28% and people of color to 13%.
Among directors, Get Out contender Jordan Peele, Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins, and Tom Ford (A Single man, Nocturnal Animals) are on the list which is heavily dominated by international names. Elle Fanning is the youngest invitee at 19, while Betty White at 95 is the oldest. The list of actors also includes Gal Gadot, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Dwayne Johnson, Chris Pratt and SNL alums Amy Poehler, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Maya Rudolph, and Molly Shannon.