EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned the Board Of Governors for the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences wanted Tom Hanks to serve as president for the new term. And that he was nominated by Tom Sherak who thought Hanks could be a “Gregory Peck-type” AMPAS leader. But insiders tell me Hanks declined, saying he “didn’t feel he could put the time in”. So his name was withdrawn, and that’s when Sherak got the gig. At least it’s comforting to know that AMPAS’ and Sherak’s heads were in the right place by wanting an actor instead of two back-to-back studio shills.
Here’s more AMPAS news: Larry Marks and Bill Condon have told the Academy they’re not available to produce and direct the Academy Awards broadcast again because they’re both working. I understand the AMPAS board wanted them back. Now the panel has to come up with a new producer within 30 days. The Academy wants to build on the last telecast’s small ratings gains and find a motion picture veteran with broadcast experience. (Any suggestions?) And because singer-dancer Hugh Jackman worked out so well as host, AMPAS wants another multi-talented big name this time around, too. (No more TV comedians and that awful standup.) Even better, how about two big names, preferably a man and a woman, to host together? (Any suggestions?)
Finally, Hollywood will know as soon as the AMPAS executive committee votes on September 10th who’ll be honored at the 1st annual “rubber chicken” black-tie dinner to present its testimonial awards – the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, and the Honorary Award. Previously, these honorees were voted at the Board’s December meeting. And now winners will only be acknowledged at the Oscars, not accoladed on air. But it’s a way for the Academy to work through the blacklog of Hollywood legends who want an award to cap their careers. And, since those legends are all pals of the AMPAS bigwigs, it became more personally embarrassing with every passing year that their friends weren’t awarded. In fact, the last time the Thalberg was bestowed, it was 2001, and the recipient was Dino De Laurentiis.
Some tell me that Brian Grazer is near the top of the list being considered for the Thalberg. But others say some worthy geezers may be moved ahead of him. Too bad that, back in 2004 which was the year that Joe Roth produced the Oscars, Grazer didn’t get his Thalberg even though everything was set. That is, until the plan was run past Roth who immediately nixed the idea to the AMPAS board. The reason, Roth told the bigwigs, was no time in the broadcast to include the Thalberg award ceremony. And the way it works at AMPAS, the producer has final say over what’s in and out of the Academy Awards show. But those in the know are convinced that Roth was jealous of Grazer and didn’t want a rival producer to one-up him. I’ll be curious to see if this will be Grazer’s year.