OSCARS: Dawn Hudson Gets New Three-Year Contract; Is Cheryl Boone Isaacs Re-Election Next?

The Board Of Governors of the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Tuesday night renewed, as expected, CEO Dawn Hudson‘s contract 2013 Governors Awards: Dawn Hudsonfor another three years.  The fact that it was a three-year renewal is seen as a real vote of confidence on the part of the Board. There were rumors that some only wanted to re-up her for a year, but this never panned out. She’s in for the long haul. Her predecessor, Bruce Davis, served for 30 years. This new contract will take Hudson through the planned opening of the Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures, which is scheduled to be unveiled in 2017. It’s only appropriate since she has been a main mover and shaker in the drive to make the long-dreamed-of museum a reality.

Under Hudson’s tenure, ratings for the Oscar show have consistently gone up, and there has been stability in the selection of producers — a long-desired Academy goal — with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron re-upping for a third year to produce the show in 2015.Oscar_badge__140302212232 This is the longest tenure for Academy Award show producers since Gil Cates did it three times in a row 1995-97.  She also has been a leading voice for diversity in all aspects of the Academy since signing on for her gig in April 2011. And for the first time last year there was a general Academy membership meeting in May which also re-emphasized her goal of making the notoriously closed organization a little more democratic. Plans for a similar meeting this year have yet to be announced. Also for the first time this year, all 24 Oscar categories were open to all members and a mailing was sent with screeners including nominees for Best Foreign Language Film, Short and Feature Documentaries, Live Action and Animated shorts. Previously most of these categories were limited to members who attended special screenings.

Hudson got off to a shaky start in 2011 as staff shakeups and private complaints about her management style threatened to disrupt the normally quiet and conservative institution. All that has settled as the Academy membership started embracing change which was not always easy with this group. One example was the introduction of online voting in 2012. The first year was rocky indeed, but things were smoothed out in the last season and there were few complaints about its implementation. Learning curves can sometimes be difficult but Hudson and the Academy leadership weathered the storm.

Academylogo_cNext up for the Academy will be the annual election this summer to select a president. Cheryl Boone Isaacs won an historic election last July as the first African American and only third woman (after Fay Kanin and Bette Davis ) to win the post. It is widely expected she will be re-elected. Academy presidents can serve four consecutive one-year terms as long as they have not been termed out on the Board Of Governors — as Hawk Koch was last year after serving only one year as president.

Hudson’s been busy: In addition to all the changes in the Academy including diversification in the actual membership, she instituted a complete overhaul of the organization’s Wilshire Boulevard headquarters which should be completed by October, just before awards season gets going in earnest. That includes a remodeling of the 1000-plus seat Goldwyn Theatre.

  1. I am glad I have DEADLINE to keep me informed about the organization I have been a member of for 20 years. Describing it as “notoriously undemocratic” might be being kind. Members were not polled about the change to the BP nominations–it was presented as a fait accompli. When the governing group thought that was necessary, it declined to add a weighed voting to the scheme so now a “winner” can have 12% of a vote. How’s that for consensus?

    My latest encounter with the “wizards of oz” involves voting itself. Two years ago, this same crowd decided that in order to vote, one had to pay dues AGAIN in the same year since the award show was in January.Again, no discussion with members. And, how silly is that? I’ve belonged to a real academic organization (MLA) for the same amount of time–only it has 10 times more members–and no one would ever be asked to pay dues twice in one year. It is as if one is being asked to “pay to vote” — as if that were a separate concern of a membership. During the past 2 years -2012 & 2013 – I was a paid up, current member of the Academy, yet I was denied nominating ballots since I would not pay in October, what I had paid in the previous February. I wonder how many of my colleagues had a similar experience. I wonder how many of my colleagues would be disappointed to know that, though a current member who viewed 40-60 films as part of his responsibility as a member, the “wizards” weren’t interested unless I forked up another 250 bucks. How is that for an “honorary” organization about the “art and craft” of the motion picture? I would love to debate publically one of the wizards on the topic:Resolved: current members are no all equal.

    Frankly, i have more interaction with fellow subscribers to the NY Times than I have with fellow “academy” members. No effort is made to facilitate discussion on a website, I have never been contacted for an opinion or feedback. The 1% of the 1% has invaded the governing board of film cast and crew members who have excelled through the years in their job. How else to explain the membership offered to Les Moonves? I don’t know about his contribution to the “art of the motion picture”, all I know is that he made 60 million dollars last year. Maybe that’s why.

    1. Well, for one, Les Moonves launched CBS Films several years ago. Which, granted, isn’t the biggest distributor in the world, but it did have a fairly decent hit last year (Last Vegas) as well as the most recent Coen Brothers film (Inside Lleywn Davis). One could reasonably ask how an actor who hasn’t appeared in a feature film in 15 years and never had a starring role in any movie ever became a member of the Academy in the first place.

      I got no dog in this fight. I’m not a member of the Academy, and I knew Dawn for a brief spell twenty years ago and haven’t seen or spoken to her since I ran in to her in the lobby of the Mann Criterion during a show of The Wicker Man. What I do know she is damn smart and capable of bringing the Academy back to the prestige place it once held in the minds of movie lovers. Something that’s been sorely lacking for many years.

  2. This is shocking. Dawn has done so much damage to the spirit of the Academy. It’s become a corporation, and not a smart one. Last year was the first year the company spent more than it took in.

  3. The Board of Governors should be voted out because they are not doing their job. Their job is to protect and support the Academy moving forward. Dawn’s job is to ensure the Board is functional and the organization remains solvent. None of this is happening….I’m embarrassed to be a member.

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