Tom Sherak is now in the second year of his presidency of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. He and his organization are active on multiple fronts, including the search for a new AMPAS Executive Director since Bruce Davis plans to step down later this year. Sherak can only run for another one-year term before stepping down himself when he is termed out on the Board of Governors. But right now he has a certain awards show on Sunday that is taking up most of his time. Deadline’s awards columnist Pete Hammond interviewed him:
DEADLINE: How are you feeling about the way the Oscar show is progressing this week?
TOM SHERAK: The energy is at fever pitch. It’s fun. It’s so hard to put a show like this on but it’s exciting. I am like a kid in a candy store.
DEADLINE: Is the show more ambitious this year?
SHERAK: Last year was very ambitious but this year Don Mischer is unbelievable. He has cameras everywhere. I think the broadcast he and Bruce Cohen are putting together is something special. There’s just something about this year’s show. There appears to be an energy more than usual.
DEADLINE: Do you think the ratings will be higher?
SHERAK: Look, the 10 nominated movies grossed $1.46 billion domestically between them. That’s a lot of people that saw those movies. And there’s a lot of competition in a lot of interesting categories even including Documentary. Who would have thought that? The media is making it exciting with all the questions about Banksy (the mystery director of Exit Through The Gift Shop). I think it’s all good and if he shows up, he shows up. I won’t stop him.
DEADLINE: The Academy is getting more interactive and involved with new media than ever before.
SHERAK: I think we needed to do it. It all ties in with Oscar.com. You are going to see stuff backstage, on the Red Carpet, and everywhere, that goes further than ever before. It’s really going to drive the telecast and we will see how it works, then make it even better next year. The question is how do you stay relevant to a younger audience — and ABC and the Academy have gotten together to do that.
DEADLINE: And there is a charge of $4.99 to consumers for an optional special “all access” premium feature.
SHERAK: I learned about it when you did. We’ll see what happens. Once you pay, you hope it will be worth it to the viewers. If not, next year it will be 99 cents. You don’t want to rip people off. But I think it will be great.
DEADLINE: You were instrumental in making the controversial move from five to 10 nominations. This is the second year for it. Do you think it is working the way you hoped?
SHERAK: Yes, I was happy when the board voted to let us do this. We needed to figure out a way to keep the public interested. Look, we read what you guys write. We listen. We realize that we needed to become more relevant. Well, how do we do that?
DEADLINE: How DO you do that?
SHERAK: One thing we’ll never do is we’ll never lose the history of this organization. What that awards means. No matter how many places you go and when you are introduced, if you’ve won the Academy Award, they start out with “Academy Award Winner”. So we’re never going to lose that. Our goal is to award excellence with all those 24 categories we have. But we also know we have to put on a show. The public is who’s watching that show, and it’s what keeps us going. But the Academy does more than put on a show. We’re out 365 days a year. We put out grants. We’re doing outreach. We’re giving out student awards. We’re doing screenwriting awards. We’re trying to promote the science of the motion picture business. There’s a huge science that needs to be constantly thought about because of all that’s happened with all the technology. We spend millions of dollars doing all that stuff. So we have to keep the organization alive. We all know that this one night’s important. Ratings are important. If we are going to continue our goals, we have to have the money to be able to that. This show provides that. (more…)