Earlier this week, Academy president John Bailey sparked outrage among members of the entertainment industry when he announced that the Oscars for cinematography, editing, live action short and makeup and hair would be presented during commercial breaks in an effort to shorten the show’s runtime.
In a new letter, the Academy’s Board of Governors emphasized that while the awards for these four categories would be presented off-camera, the winners would have their speeches edited into the broadcast later in the show (sans time spent walking to and from the stage). The Board also said that four to six categories could be similarly spliced in the future, though the categories cut would be exempt the following year.
Furthermore, the Academy said that the branches that oversee the cinematography, editing, live action short and makeup and hair categories all volunteered to have their awards presented off-camera. They added that the Board of Governors discussed and agreed upon the format change in August, with the full support of the category committees.
Prior to the Academy’s statement, 40 high-profile directors and cinematographers, including Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino, signed an open letter criticizing the Academy’s decision. “Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status… is nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession,” the letter read.
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During the initial backlash, filmmakers like Alfonso Cuarón – who is nominated for both Best Director and Cinematography for Roma – Guillermo del Toro and Exorcist director William Friedkin particularly criticized the decision to present the cinematography and editing awards off camera, insisting they were too essential to filmmaking. Actor Russell Crowe, meanwhile, slammed the entire idea, tweeting, “It’s just too fucking dumb for words.”
The 2019 Oscars will air live February 24th at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.