By David Poland

79th Oscar® Rules Approved by Academy

Beverly Hills, CA — The governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved the rules for the 79th Academy Awards® at their Tuesday evening session this week, endorsing a series of changes that the organization’s president, Sid Ganis, characterized as “constructive but not earthshaking.”

The biggest change in fact was not technically a rule change at all, but a procedural one, instituting a two-stage process in determining the nominations in the Foreign Language Film Award category. The new approach will allow New York-based Academy members to participate for the first time in selecting the nominations for the category.

Foreign Language nominations for 2006 will be arrived at in two phases overseen by two essentially distinct screening committees. The Phase I committee will be the same several-hundred-member Los Angeles-based group that has viewed the roughly 60 annual submissions in past years and selected the five nominees from the field. For the 2006 Awards though, the Phase I committee will arrive at a nine-country shortlist.

The Phase II committee, made up of ten randomly selected members of the original committee, ten Los Angeles-based members not on the original committee, and ten New York-area members, will view the shortlisted films in a three-day bicoastal marathon and select the nominees from that field.

In addition to allowing New York members to participate, which they have long expressed an interest in, Ganis said “the principal reason for the two-phase selection process is to see if we can permit busy working members to participate in the process without them having to commit to several months’ worth of screenings.”

In another change for the Foreign Language award, entries submitted in the category no longer must be in an official language of the country submitting the film. So long as the dominant language is not English, a picture from any country may be in any language or combination of languages.

“That may sound like a profound change,” the Academy’s executive director Bruce Davis said, “but it actually addresses a situation that has cropped up only once before in our history, and may not arise again this century. Last year the Italians wanted to submit a picture that was clearly made by Italian artists, and which qualified for the category in every other way except one: there was no Italian language in it. All the dialogue was in Middle Eastern languages.

“The rules clearly prohibited that, but the situation didn’t seem fair to us. So if the Taiwanese want to send us a picture with exclusively Portuguese dialogue this year, we’re ready for them.”

In other rules-related actions, the board increased the annual number of nominated achievements in the Sound Editing category from three to five, and approved the elimination of the 25-year tradition of the “bake-off” for the category. Sound Branch members will now nominate five films in the category by preferential ballot, the system used in many other categories.

Other modifications of the rules include normal date changes and minor “housekeeping” changes.

Rule changes in the Documentary and Short Film categories were approved by the board earlier this year. In the Documentary categories, the rules refined the respective multi-city theatrical rollout requirements for the two categories, adding a four-city rollout requirement for short documentary films and doubling the number of cities to eight for feature-length documentaries. In addition, new rules change the voting system for feature documentaries from an averaged-point system to a preferential system.

In the Short Film categories, the rules no longer prohibit multiple entries from a producer or producing team.

Rules are reviewed annually by branch and category committees. The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Academy’s Board of Governors.

Academy Award® nominations will be announced in January at the Academy. The 79th Annual Academy Awards Presentation will be telecast live from the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center by the ABC Television Network on Sunday, February 25, 2007.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon