The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced updated rules and regulations in how contending movies can be promoted and marketed to members, but other than a specific addition to rules concerning the music branch, there wasn’t much new in the announcement except a tweak here and there. Publicists and Academy consultants were invited to a meeting earlier this month led by Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and marketing head Christina Kounelias. As is the case each year following Oscar season, they are given the opportunity to offer feedback on the rules and serve up any improvements that might be needed. But the only real change came about because of the controversy over the Best Song nomination for the obscure, then-unknown “Alone Yet Not Alone” from the film of the same title (which finally was released to theaters this month). As first reported on Deadline just hours after nominations were announced, Former Academy Governor and Music Branch head Bruce Broughton had contacted several members of the branch via email to urge them to give consideration to the song he co-wrote with lyricist Dennis Spiegel. This ran afoul of accepted Oscar campaigning behavior and raised eyebrows within — and outside of — the branch. It led to a near-unprecedented disqualification of the song, despite vigorous protests from Broughton, who previously had hired a music publicist to help with his grass roots campaign before deciding to contact members (at least 70) on his own. Because of his insider connections in the Academy it appeared he had an unfair advantage over other contenders (“Let It Go” from Frozen was the eventual winner). In an obvious, and inevitable, reaction to this, the Academy has now decided to spell out this new rule very clearly: “Music Branch members may not contact other Music Branch members to promote the nomination of their own song in any way, including via mail, email, telephone or social media. Additionally, Music Branch members may not attend any special live performances of eligible songs unless attached to a screening”. The latter regulation refers to special concerts, such as one Disney had for Frozen at a Los Angeles jazz club. The studio had to bend over backward to make sure no Academy members (not connected directly to working the event) were in the room. It’s not clear whether this also would affect performances like those done by Pharrell Williams at industry events and parties where he performed his Despicable Me 2 tune, “Happy”. Here is the full Academy press release:
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has updated regulations for how companies and individuals may market movies and achievements eligible for the 87th Academy Awards® to Academy members. The most significant changes affect the Music category.
Music Branch members may not contact other Music Branch members to promote the nomination of their own song in any way, including via mail, email, telephone or social media. Additionally, Music Branch members may not attend any special live performances of eligible songs unless attached to a screening.
For the complete award campaign regulations, visit oscars.org/regulations.
The Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.