The Board Of Governors of the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Tuesday night renewed, as expected, CEO Dawn Hudson‘s contract for 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. 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.
Next 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.