Devil Is In The Details, Or Deviled Eggs, When Planning Oscar Campaign Events

Apparently, the devil is in the details, or maybe in the deviled eggs, when it comes to enforcement of the new Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rule against excessive entertainment of members by Oscar campaigners.

Last summer, the Academy raised some eyebrows with a prohibition against “any nonscreening event, party or dinner that is reasonably perceived to unduly influence members or undermine the integrity of the vote.”

For members, the potential penalties are severe: They include a one-year suspension for a first violation and permanent expulsion for repeat offenses.

Campaigners, left to guess what sort of entertainment might put their guests at risk, quickly began querying the Academy about the propriety of their various events and accompanying hors d’oeuvres. And answers came back on a somewhat haphazard, case-by-case basis.

But the Academy now seems to have at least slightly formalized the pre-event appetizer check process. In the Documentary Branch, for instance, where campaigning is hot and heavy around the shortlist of shorts, announced last month, and the matching list of features, due next week, event planners are being channeled to the AMPAS “Rights and Clearance Coordinator” for review.

Have your information ready: The coordinator will ask for your budget, menu, guest list and contributors. Permitted spending per guest remains unclear — apparently, it’s a judgment call. You presumably might squeeze by with a fancier menu if you keep the budget down by bargain-shopping for, say, crab cakes and domestic sparkling wine at Costco. What happens if a guest is excessively entertained by a second helping of cheese dip and a third glass of Cold Duck remains anyone’s guess.

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