Inside AMPAS Board Of Governors' Meeting: Conflict Of Interest & Latino Damage Control (Joke About Being “Old White Guy Club”)

EXCLUSIVE: Few things in Hollywood are more secret than the Board Of Governors meetings of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. In fact, an insider tells me that, at one of the most recent conclaves, AMPAS President Hawk Koch ”went around the room asking if ‘anybody is friends with Nikki Finke?’ before beginning.” (Related: Hey, Academy, I Was Hiding Under The Rug) So let me tell you what was discussed at a recent session:

— Governors argued pro and con instituting a so-called ‘conflict of interest’ clause for themselves. At the present time, they do not have one. “This was specifically related to Academy Board Members receiving lucrative contracts from the Academy for things like behind-the-scenes footage, Oscars documentaries, etc. And they’re having first dibs on these contracts,” my insider tells me, clarifying, “The argument for adding a conflict of interest clause was that ‘it looks bad that we don’t have one’ and ‘would be bad publicity if it got out’. The argument against a conflict of interest clause was this: that although it may look bad, every member on the board is talented and should be allowed to work for the Academy if the Academy deems them worthy and fit to do so.” The suggested solution was allowing governors to take a leave of absence from the board to work on projects which the Academy directly underwrites. I’m told one Governor in particular is shooting a behind-the-Oscars TV documentary for the Turner Classic Movies cable channel to air during the next awards season “and the board unanimously voted to allow him to be grandfathered in,” according to my source. No final decision was made.

— Governors at the board meeting discussed the failure by the 2013 Academy Awards’ In Memoriam segment to mention prominent Latina actress Lupe Ontiveros and how that snub “may have damaged their appeal to Latin Americans,” my insider says. The governors decided “that they need to reach out to minorities more often. And they joked about the Academy being an old white guy club and how that appears to other demographics.” Outrage erupted after the Mexican-American star with a career spanning four decades in movies/TV died in July at age 69 but was omitted from the tribute sequence. Latino viewers took their protests to Twitter and an open letter addressed to the Academy was written by Alex NogalesCEO/president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. He noted that Ontiveros had applied for AMPAS membership and been denied, despite the support of Miguel Sandoval and Edward James Olmos. In April, members of the National Latino Media Council met with AMPAS bigwigs to discuss the dustup and find ways to increase Latino representation among Academy membership. Ontiveros is best known for Selena, As Good As It Gets, Real Women Have Curves and The Goonies but she made hundreds of films and TV shows.

— The Governors also debated allowing other mediums to be nominated for Academy Awards, not just theatrical releases but also New Media films. Michael Moore, who’s on the AMPAS Board, strenuously objected. He held up his iPhone and said, “If I’m watching Spartacus on this, I’m watching something. But it’s not a movie. I don’t know what to call it, but it’s not a movie.” Moore did suggest the Academy create a fund to financially help small market theaters transition from print to digital. Many disagreed inside the meeting, saying “This shouldn’t be the Academy’s responsibility”. Moore argued that less people seeing movies in the theater, and especially in mom and Pop venues, isn’t good for anybody.

  1. Another terrific article by Ms. Finke… great inside into AMPAS…. the board almost feel like the HFPA… :) However, totally agree with Michael Moore’s initiative!!!!

  2. Thank you, Michael, for objecting to “New Media” awards.

    That’s all AMPAS needs to further dilute the “prestige” of their honors, not to mention they would need a second night to broadcast all the YouTube, mobile phone and who-knows-what-other crappy media experiments.

    1. “further dilute the prestige”? Are you watching the same show as the rest of us. I watched Seth sing a song about boobs this past year. Plus, lets not forget it’s a night where (mostly) famous millionaires get together and give each other chunks of gold for doing their job? The award show is a marketing ploy for studios to butts in seats and make more money. Lets see it for what it actually is. Prestige was a good one though. I’m still laughing at that one. I’ll call Rob Lowe and Cinderella and tell them about that one. They should get a laugh at that comment too.

      1. If Cindy’s not home, tell her roommate Snow White. She’ll probably appreciate it more.

  3. Why on God’s green Earth, after such a great career and two well respected references, would they deny her acceptance to AMPAS?

    Cinema is global.

    I’d love to hear why they denied Lupe the much deserved recognition.

      1. She was not recognized because she was considered a TV person, and TV people are snubbed by the Academy on a yearly basis. Sad but true.

        1. I want to live in your world David, where racist snubs can always be explained away with a silly answer. Tell me, what’s the Easter Bunny like? I love his work.

  4. AMPAS has always had a problem with accepting/hiring diversity. They finally admit they have a diversity problem, but with the “old white guy club” joke, I doubt they will do anything. AMPAS is very comfortable discriminating and spreading racism.

  5. ATAS pretty much already staked a claim to internet movies and programs, and already includes them in the Emmy competition. So it seems a bit of a moot point for AMPAS.

  6. Hmm…nice to see some organizations more full of themslves than Congress still exist.

    If Michael Moore’s slanted films can be called ‘documentaries’ why can’t something that went straight to VOD be considered for an Oscar?

  7. Talking about being an old white guy club, why don’t they discuss the shocking lack of female Honorary Oscar recipients?

    In 85 years of the Academy history out over 100 Honorary Oscars given only 9 were awarded to a woman, which is just a disgrace. The new format with the Governors Awards and up to 4 recipients per year hasn’t change much. So far out of 11 honorees only 1 was a woman (Lauren Bacall in 2009).

    Clearly it’s a major issue that needs to be addressed. There are so many legendary and talented women out there who deserve to be recognized by the Academy for their outstanding contributions to the art of film and yet they are being ignored year after year. Last year’s lineup was all male.

    People like Angela Lansbury, Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds, Jeanne Moreau, Gena Rowlands, Agnes Varda, etc. are long overdue for an Honorary Oscar and the Academy is better hurry up to award them before it’s too late.

    It’s no secret Hollywood thinks very little of women in general and by constantly snubbing women while making Honorary Oscar selection the Academy sends a very clear message that women and their lifetime achievements are not worthy to remembered and celebrated.

  8. This year’s Memoriam reel was even more of a disgrace than usual. Actors whose careers stretched back to the 1930s and 1940s (Ann Rutherford, Harry Carey Jr., Patti Andrews, etc.) were ignored while a number of execs with marginal careers at best were included. Apparently being old is just as bad as being non-white and non-male.

  9. Ok- I have to go there. THIS is why America hates “us”. They didn’t honor her because no one’s
    heard of her. To put her in a category above her earned standing is dishonest. AMPAS should base these decisions based on US domestic film releases. Period. 12th billing in Goonies. 50th billing or so in Selena. 8th billing as Good As it Gets. Thousands of people were more deserving for membership/recognition. She deserves recognition for acting ability because she is a hispanic woman?
    I’ve always hated when the right uses the “special treatment” argument. Unfortunately, the only
    justification for what is suggested here is wrong and condescending. Let people compete equally.

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