Los Angeles Judge Finalizes Ruling For Film Academy In Michael Shamberg Lawsuit – Update

Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences
AMPAS

UPDATED: Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge H. Jay Ford III on Tuesday finalized his tentative ruling to grant a request by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for summary judgment against producer Michael Shamberg’s lawsuit challenging the group’s interpretation of its bylaws.

Ford said Monday in issuing the tentative ruling that he was persuaded the courts must “decline to exercise jurisdiction over the disputes concerning the rights and duties of members of a private voluntary association.”

Shamberg, an two-time Oscar-nominated producer, had sought a determination that the Academy’s Board of Governors was required to vote on his proposals for an Oscar-related social media program and an annual member survey. The governors said they were not required to vote on member-proposed changes to the bylaws; but they subsequently amended the rules to clarify the process for member proposals. Shamberg’s suit said that post facto limitation on member proposals violated California law.

“Today’s ruling in favor of the Academy is on the technical ground that member rights are not a matter for the court. The judge termed it ‘a close call,'” Shamberg said in part in a statement after today’s final ruling (read the full statement below). “The fact that the Academy wasted legal fees on an expensive law firm instead of simply voting on positive ideas shows the board cares more about protecting their insular and secretive decision-making than figuring out the future.”

The Academy declined comment on the ruling.

Here’s Shamberg’s statement:

The Academy and its Awards are a trust that represents the best of all of us in the industry. The Academy’s mission statement mandates “shaping the future of motion pictures.” Today’s ruling in favor of the Academy is on the technical ground that member rights are not a matter for the court. The judge termed it “a close call.” The fact that the Academy wasted legal fees on an expensive law firm instead of simply voting on positive ideas shows the board cares more about protecting their insular and secretive decision-making than figuring out the future.

My proposals are simple and positive. They are designed to make the art form of 20th century cinema relevant to the generations who are growing up in the 21st century. The Academy has to connect with today’s audience on social media and listen to what they have to say. The board needs to ask the members who are the best storytellers in the world for good ideas.

This year’s Oscar ratings are down a precipitous 61% in the last decade and are the second lowest of all time. Instead of celebrating the relevance of movies, the ceremony made fun of Best Picture nominees and downgraded the important creative contributions of many branches. The format of the show hasn’t changed since the first broadcast in 1953. The Oscars need to be radically reconceived in the style of entertainment today or they will fade away.

Academy management needs to be held accountable to the members. Right now, an executive recruiting firm is interviewing candidates to be the new CEO. But the job posting has never been sent to us members for comment even though the new CEO will determine the Academy’s future. In a few months, there will be another secret election for a new Academy President without the candidates explaining what their vision is.

Since I began my campaign to make the Oscars relevant again no one has stepped up to publicly defend the Academy. I have received much private support. I look forward to an Academy spokesperson explaining how they benefit from today’s decision.

PREVIOSLY, Monday PM: In a tentative ruling issued Monday, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge said he is inclined to grant a request by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for summary judgment against producer Michael Shamberg’s lawsuit challenging the group’s interpretation of its bylaws.

Judge H. Jay Ford III said he was persuaded that the courts must “decline to exercise jurisdiction over the disputes concerning the rights and duties of members of a private voluntary association.”

The ruling isn’t final, but it nearly closes the door on Shamberg and his lawyers at a hearing set for Tuesday in Dept. O of the court’s Santa Monica branch.

Shamberg had sought a determination that the Academy’s Board of Governors was required to vote on his proposals for an Oscar-related social media program and an annual member survey. The governors said they were not required to vote on member-proposed changes to the bylaws; but they subsequently amended the rules to clarify the process for member proposals. Shamberg’s suit said that post facto limitation on member proposals violated California law.

In his ruling, Ford said the conflicting interpretations showed ambiguity in the bylaws — a situation that required the courts to abstain from passing judgment, lest they be drawn into a “dismal swamp” of disputes.

While declining to vote on the Shamberg proposals, the Academy governors have said they plan to implement annual meetings of the membership, and the group has been expanding its social media presence.

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2022/04/tentative-ruling-los-angeles-judge-sides-with-film-academy-against-shamberg-suit-1234993019/