Oscars: Whoopi Goldberg Among 10 First-Time Victors in Historic Academy Board Elections

Ten of the 17 seats that were up for grabs were won by individuals who have never previously served on the board; 21 of the board's 54 seats now will be held by women.
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Whoopi Goldberg

The leadership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences got an overhaul on Thursday. Hollywood's premier awards-dispensing organization revealed the results of its annual board of governors election, and no fewer than 10 of the board's 17 seats that were up for grabs this year were won by individuals who had not previously served on the board, including Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg (of the actors branch), who currently hosts ABC's The View; indie filmmaker Kimberly Peirce (directors), who is best known for 1999's Boys Don't Cry; and former Academy chief marketing officer Christina Kounelias (public relations), who now serves as Participant Media's executive vp worldwide marketing and communications.

Kounelias claims the seat held for much of the last quarter-century by Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is retiring from the board and whose successor as president will be chosen in July by a vote of the new board at its first meeting.

The Academy is divided into 17 branches, each of which is represented with three seats on the board; there also are three seats on the board for governors who are appointed by the president, for an unspecified period of time, to represent the interests of diversity. All but the diversity governors are elected to three-year terms, which are staggered so that only one seat from each branch is subject to election in any given year. Each governor is chosen through a vote by the rank-and-file members of the applicable branch after they have winnowed down a field of interested candidates to a number no greater than four. This year, the final round of voting began on Monday, June 19, and ended on Friday, June 23.

In addition to Goldberg, Peirce and Kounelias, other first-timers elected to the board include Mandy Walker (cinematographers), Isis Mussenden (costume designers), Wynn P. Thomas (designers), David Linde (executives), Thomas R. Sito (short films and feature animation), Teri E. Dorman (sound) and Larry Karaszewski (writers).

Meanwhile, six incumbents held on to their seats. They inclue Albert Berger (producers) — who was challenged by former Academy president Hawk Koch and two of the hottest young producers in the business, Jason Blum (Get Out) and Michael De Luca (50 Shades of Grey and the infamous 89th Oscars) — and Charles Bernstein (music), who was oposed by past governor Charles Fox, three-time Oscar winner Alan Bergman and John C. Debney. Also reelected were Lora Kennedy (casting directors), Kate Amend (documentary), Michael Tronick (film editors), Kathryn L. Blondell (makeup artists and hairstylists).

Two incumbents who had sought re-election came up short: Daniel R. Fellman (executives), who, along with Lucy Fisher and former Disney chief and past Academy treasurer Dick Cook, was felled by Linde; and Mark Mangini (sound), who was upended by Dorman.

Three incumbents were unable to seek re-election because they "termed out,' having served three back-to-back terms: Annette Bening (actors), whose seat went to Goldberg over fellow Oscar winner Geena Davis, Oscar nominee Edward James Olmos and Rita Wilson (whose husband Tom Hanks already represents the actors branch on the board); Jeffrey Kurland (costume designers), who will be succeeded by Mussenden; and outgoing Academy vice president Phil Alden Robinson (writers), one of the driving forces behind the Academy's diversity push of recent years, who will be replaced not by 12 Years a Slave Oscar winner John Ridley, Aline Brosh McKenna or Dana Stevens, but by The People vs. O.J. Simpson Emmy winner Larry Karaszewski (for whom the third time was the charm — he lost in a run-off in 2015 and also failed to secure a seat in 2016).

Meanwhile, five incumbents opted to vacate their seats before this year's electoral process began: Boone Isaacs (public relations), whose seat was claimed by Kounelias over Lionsgate co-chair and former Academy vice president Rob Friedman (who unsuccessfully opposed Boone Isaacs for the presidency back in 2013 before losing his seat in a subsequent election), as well as two veteran PR executives, Tony Angellotti and Bruce R. Feldman; Edward Zwick (directors), whose seat will go to Peirce, who prevailed over John Badham, Kasi Lemmons and Donald M. Petrie; Bob Rogers (short films and feature animation), who will be succeeded not by Disney-Pixar president Ed Catmull, the biggest name in that race, but by Sito; Rick Carter (designers), whose seat Thomas earned by toppling past governor Rosemary Brandenburg, among others; and Caleb Deschanel (cinematographers), who will be succeeded by Walker, one of the few female lensers who regularly works on features, who held off three male opponents.

When the new board members are sworn in, the board will be comprised of 33 men and an unprecedented 21 women.

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