Oscar SherakWhat an AWFUL decision. Because Tom Sherak has been responsible of late for many of the worst decisions by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Heck, this guy helped run Revolution Studios into the ground. Now he’s going to do the same thing with AMPAS. What a tool. What a moronic Board Of Governors.

For instance, Sherak, as chairman of AMPAS’ Awards Review Committee, was outed as the “major advocate” of the worst idea ever in the modern history of the Oscars: the recent decision to have 10 feature films vying in the Best Picture category. This hugely surprising and dramatic change for the 82nd Academy Awards was the direct result of intense lobbying by the major studios of the “Acadummy” and their willing stooges, Sherak, and outgoing president Sid Ganis, both former top studio execs. It was nothing short of nonsensical for such an extreme departure from the Academy Awards’ recent past to be taking place. (So what if, from 1932 to 1943, the Academy members nominated 10 films for Best Picture? Back then, the major studios started a new picture once or twice a week in their heyday. That’s why AMPAS members could nominate 10 great movies for Best Picture.) So Sherak helped devalue the rarity of an Oscar nomination and belittle the judging process. All because the studios had grown increasingly frustrated that their mainstream fare — the four-quadrant films, the family-oriented toons, the superhero actioners, and the high-octane thrillers — can’t get Best Picture nods while the art house offerings dominate the process. That, in turn, hurt the Oscar broadcast ratings. What’s Sherak planning next? 10 Best Actor or Best Actress or Best Director or Best Foreign Film nominations as well? Sherak let the studios get what they want at the expense of the Academy’s integrity.

And Sherak was primarily responsible for lobbying the board to choose Jerry Lewis to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the last Oscars. Immediately, protests came into the Academy over Jerry’s repeated and public anti-gay slurs. This, at a time when the Hollywood gay community, joined by much of the showbiz straight community, was already on edge because of the passing of Proposition 8 outlawing same-sex unions in California. aoscar jerrySo the vote by the AMPAS board selecting Lewis seemed like “salt poured into an open wound”, as one of my sources called it. And the callous AMPAS response was, “he’s apologized”. My ass. But Sherak, who raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and has a family member with MS, got his way. Even though, just a few months earlier, Lewis made an anti-gay slur on Australian television similar to one he made on his annual Muscular Dystrophy association telethon a year earlier. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation immediately called on Lewis to apologize and blamed him for “feeding a climate of hatred and intolerance that contributes to putting our community in harm’s way”. Yet there he was in Australia, doing it again, and apologizing again. Sherak chose wrong. AMPAS wasn’t bestowing on Lewis an honorary honor for his long career in the movies. The Hersholt is an award given to an individual in the motion picture industry “whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry”. Despite Lewis’ laudatory 42 years of raising money for MDA, his publicly demonstrated debasement of gays doesn’t make him a humanitarian.

And these are just some of the reasons why Sherak is a lousy choice for AMPAS president.

Here’s the news release:

Beverly Hills, CA (August 18, 2009) — Tom Sherak was elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tuesday night (8/18) by the organization’s Board of Governors.

Sherak, who is beginning his seventh year as a governor representing the Executives Branch, has served as treasurer of the Academy during the past year. He succeeds Sid Ganis, who had served the maximum four consecutive one-year terms in the office.

In addition, Actors Branch governor Tom Hanks was elected first vice president; Producers Branch governor Kathleen Kennedy and Writers Branch governor Phil Robinson were elected to vice presidents posts; Producers Branch governor Hawk Koch was elected treasurer; and Short Films and Feature Animation Branch governor John Lasseter was elected secretary. Ganis, representing the Public Relations Branch, will serve as immediate past president.

These will be the first officer stints for Lasseter and Robinson. Hanks had previously served as vice president and treasurer. Koch had previously served one term as vice president. This will be Kennedy’s second consecutive term as vice president.

Sherak, a marketing, distribution and production executive with more than four decades in the motion picture industry, is currently a consultant for Marvel Studios.

Previously, Sherak was a partner at Revolution Studios where he oversaw the release of more than 40 films including “Black Hawk Down,” “Anger Management,” “Rent” and “Across the Universe.”

Prior to joining Revolution, Sherak was chairman of Twentieth Century Domestic Film Group and served as senior executive vice president of Fox Filmed Entertainment. Previously, he held various positions at Fox, including senior executive vice president, where he oversaw the distribution and post-production of “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Speed” and “Independence Day,” among others.

In 1990 Sherak was named executive vice president of Twentieth Century Fox. Prior to that he was president of domestic distribution and marketing for Fox, where launched such films as “Romancing the Stone,” “Aliens,” “Wall Street,” “Die Hard” and “Working Girl.” He began his career in the industry at Paramount Pictures in 1970.

Academy board members serve three-year terms, while officers serve one-year terms, with a maximum of four consecutive terms in any one office.