NEW YORK (AP) — Following an outcry from many of the movie industry's most prominent figures, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has reversed its decision to present four awards during the commercial breaks of this year's Oscar broadcast.
The film academy on Friday said all 24 categories will be shown live, after all, at the 91st Academy Awards on Feb. 24. On Monday, the academy had said that the winning speeches for cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, and live-action short would be aired in a shortened, taped segment during the broadcast.
"All Academy Awards will be presented without edits, in our traditional format," the organization said in a statement. It did not address whether the change meant extending the show's length, which the academy has said would be reduced to three hours.
Criticism of the move was fiercely contested by many of this year’s Oscar nominees, including Roma director Alfonso Cuarón and BlacKkKlansman filmmaker Spike Lee. The American Society of Cinematographers issued an open-letter, signed by Martin Scorsese, Brad Pitt and others, calling the academy’s plans an insult to the cinematic arts.
"When the recognition of those responsible for the creation of outstanding cinema is being diminished by the very institution whose purpose it is to protect it, then we are no longer upholding the spirit of the academy's promise to celebrate film as a collaborative art form," the letter read.
The academy on Wednesday defended the decision and blamed "a chain of misinformation" on the backlash. Following record-low ratings to last year's broadcast, the academy has made a swifter, three-hour telecast a priority. ABC, which airs the Oscars, is planning to premiere a sneak-peak of a new drama series after the Oscar telecast, which regularly ranks as the most-watched non-NFL broadcast of the year.
This is just the latest flip-flop by the academy in its attempts to tweak the Oscars.
The academy's headaches began after it last summer trotted out the induction of a "popular film Oscar." The plan sparked such outrage (Rob Lowe pronounced the film industry dead, "survived by sequels, tent-poles and vertical integration") that the new award was scuttled within a month.
Kevin Hart was announced as this year’s Oscar host only to withdraw days later when many took issue with his old homophobic tweets and the comedian initially “chose to pass on the apology.” The Oscars are now host-less for only the fifth time in the telecast’s 91-year history.