As Nikki Finke reported first back in May, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences COO Ric Robertson this summer embarked on a very unusual paid leave from June through August that AMPAS called a “sabbatical”. Robertson has now decided, not surprisingly, that he’s not coming back and today officially stepped down from the post. A 32-year veteran of the Academy, he will transition to a consulting role within the organization. Robertson’s sabbatical prompted AMPAS staff to wonder whether he would be pushed out and/or look for another job. In April 2011, he was passed over for Bruce Davis’ executive directorship and reported to CEO Dawn Hudson, who was brought in over him. Insiders said Robertson was primarily responsible for this year’s online voting debacle, which Hudson dumped in his lap when the Academy finally decided to implement Oscar balloting electronically — something Robertson and Davis resisted for prior years. Sources have been predicting for some time that Robertson would leave AMPAS. He joined the Academy in 1981 and became the organization’s second-in-command in 1989 when he was appointed Executive Administrator. In that position he oversaw the Academy’s public programming, library and film archive as well as its public relations, marketing, legal affairs, and numerous awards-related events and activities. One reason he was passed over for the top job was because AMPAS staff members were so unhappy they were beginning to take the first steps to unionize by exploring how to join up with IATSE. He’s also the one who yanked Deadline’s press credential to cover the 2011 Academy Awards because Finke posted exclusive spoilers.
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