Pret-a-Reporter

And the Winner for Best Hair Is …

David James/20th Century Fox Films

Famed hairstylist Ted Gibson is lobbying for the Academy to add an Oscar just for hair.

What do Reese Witherspoon's 1920s-style waves in Water for Elephants and Kirsten Dunst's 18th century 'dos in Marie Antoinette have in common? While they are some of the most unforgettable hairstyles from film of the past 10 years, there was never much chance of Academy recognition for the work.

One of Hollywood's top hairstylists, Ted Gibson, is trying to change that -- he's pushing for the Academy to add a category for best hair and has launched a Facebook campaign with 1,526 likes and counting. Hair and makeup share a category, and the Oscar statuette reads "best makeup."

Since the makeup category was added in 1981, there have been 17 hairstylist nominees and six winners (most recently, Jan Archibald won for 2007's La Vie en Rose). But the race is dominated by special effects makeup.

Gibson, whose clients include Anne Hathaway and Angelina Jolie, began his campaign in July, and while he doesn't work on films, he's doing this in recognition of others. "If Betty White can land a hosting gig on SNL because of Facebook, I figured social media was the best place to start," says Gibson.

Unlike the Oscars, the Emmys differentiate between hairstyling and makeup. So why does hair get the shaft from Oscar? "Historically, makeup departments were made up of men, and hair, which was mostly female, was under the direction of makeup. The pay scale is still lower for hair than makeup. It's outdated," says TV and film hairstylist Lucia Mace, a two-time Emmy winner for Mad Men. Adds Gibson: "Try adding costumes into the mix and calling it 'The Look' award, and see how costume designers react! It's a collaboration, but it's a disservice to not have individual recognition."

Mace says it is hard for hairstylists to get recognition because there are only three names submitted in each category for a film, and it's up to the makeup artist if he or she wants to include hair.

Some makeup artists are showing support. "Hair designs that drive the story should have the same opportunities," says Oscar winner Mindy Hall (2009's Star Trek). Adds Academy member Julie Hewett, "I can do beautiful makeup, and if the hair isn't there, it doesn't work."

Next, proponents within the Academy must submit a proposal to the board of governors (it is too late for the 2012 ceremony). "I don't think it's a direction we're moving in," says an Academy source. "But there are ways to bolster awareness within the existing category. They could petition for a title change so that the statuette would say 'best hair and makeup.' " Adds Sue Cabral-Ebert, president of the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild and an Academy member: "The Academy always tries to cut back on the awards. It's televised and takes a couple of minutes for each statuette. It comes down to time, cost and exclusivity."

The last time Oscar added a category was best animated feature in 2001 --after more than 10 years of campaigning. "Proposals were made before 1991. I proposed it in 1994 and 1998, but there weren't enough films to qualify," says Carl Bell, a governor in the Academy's short films and feature animation branch. "There's resistance to add any category. They want to keep the number within reason."           

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