EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Peter Gabriel just pulled out of performing at the Academy Awards show. In a letter to the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences, the co-writer and performer of Wall-E‘s “Down To Earth” says he doesn’t think the nominated songs, and their writers and performers, are getting enough respect during this year’s Oscars telecast. That’s because the show’s producers, Larry Mark and Bill Condon, have reduced the song segment to a medley of the three songs nominated for “achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original Song)”  — “Down to Earth” from WALL-E (Walt Disney), with music by Gabriel and Thomas Newman and lyric by Gabriel; “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) with music by A.R. Rahman nd lyric by Gulzar; and “O Saya” from Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) with music and lyric by A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam. I’m told the producers have slotted 90 seconds in the medley for each song sung by its original performer. But Gabriel said in his letter that he was only being offered 65 seconds for his song. “I don’t feel that is sufficient time to do the song justice, and I have decided to withdraw from performing,” Gabriel informed AMPAS. nikkioscarsml2.JPG“I fully respect and look forward to the producers’ right to revamp the show. Even though song writers are small players in the filmmmaking process, they are just as committed and work just as hard as the rest of the team, and I regret that this new version of the ceremony is being created in part at their expense.” I’m told that the medley is the brainchild of the producers in their attempt to get the Oscar show’s running time down to 3 hours — which, frankly, would be a miracle given that it usually runs more than 4 hours. No word yet on whom the producers will choose to sing in place of Gabriel.

UPDATE: Here is the text of Peter Gabriel’s letter:

“I was delighted when “Down to Earth” was nominated for an Oscar. I was also pleased to have been asked to perform the song in the Oscar ceremony. However, in recent discussions with the Producers, it became clear that despite there being only three nominees, only 60-65 seconds was being offered, and that was also in a medley of the three songs. I don’t feel that is sufficient time to do the song justice, and have decided to withdraw from performing.

I fully respect and look forward to the Producers’ right to revamp the show. Even though song writers are small players in the film making process, they are just as committed and work just as hard as the rest of the team and I regret that this new version of the ceremony is being created, in part, at their expense.”

I still very much look forward to attending the ceremony.”