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Earlier this month, the Academy’s board of govenors voted to overhaul the system through which governors are elected. In years past, the members of each of the Academy’s 17 branches elected one-half of a nominating committee that, in turn, selected a slate of candidates. “Now, you will choose your candidates directly,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson informed the organization’s roughly 7,000 members.
Hudson also encouraged each member to consider throwing his or her hat into the ring ahead of the next board meeting in May. At that time, each member will be provided with a list of the declared candidates from his or her branch and will vote to winnow it down to four finalists, from which a new governor for each branch will be chosen in June.
In order for candidates to share their platforms with fellow Academy members, THR is providing a forum on this page. It will be updated with further candidate statements, of 400 words or less, as they are submitted. For details about how to submit a statement, candidates should contact Scott.Feinberg@THR.com.
The candidate statements follow:
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Stuart Gordon (challenger)
I’m best known as the director of the horror-comedy Re-Animator and the co-creator of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I’ve been a member of the Directors Branch of the Academy since 1999, and proud of it. I’ve decided to submit my name for nomination as a governor because the Academy is in the midst of a crisis that threatens its very existence.
In the last few years we’ve experienced diminishing services and increased dues, but the final straw occurred when president Cheryl Boone Isaacs unveiled drastic new changes to “prune the dead wood” from our membership.
On January 21st a “stealth Board of Governors meeting” was called where Boone Isaacs laid out plans to change a fundamental rule of the Academy: Voting privileges would no longer be for life. Instead members would serve a 10 year term which could be extended only by working within the industry. Once this is no longer the case, our voting privileges will be permanently revoked. We will be disenfranchised.
And Boone Isaacs was in a hurry. “We need to make this happen now, tonight,” she announced. So without any time to even think about this major over-haul of the rights of membership, the Board of Governors caved and accepted these ill-conceived changes. You’d think that at least one governor would have suggested polling the members of his or her branch before voting. But as far as I know none did.
By railroading these changes, the leadership blamed the lack of diversity in the actors’ nominations on the entire membership of the Academy, essentially labeling all of us racists.
Do we want Oscars awarded out of political correctness, out of fear that we will appear to be bigoted? What about the quality of the work? Shouldn’t that be the sole criterion?
The Academy isn’t infallible. Mistakes are made. But throwing the entire membership under the bus does no one any good. Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Dawn Hudson and the current Board have abused their power and insulted the very people they should be serving. So I’m running to become a Governor of the Directors’ Branch. And if elected I will do everything in my power to see that the entire membership of the Academy be given the opportunity to revoke these misguided membership changes by majority rule.
Feel free to contact me on Twitter: @officialsgordon.
William Goldstein (challenger)
Academy member since 1977. Over 30 years on the Music Branch executive committee. 1980, selected as principal speaker, Academy Foundation’s first seminar on film scoring.
Visiting artist: 1981, Went to Taiwan with Academy contingent, including director George Cukor. 2014, Vilnius Film Festival.
Served on the Academy’s Cinema 2.0 committee in 2011.
I’m a strong defender of the Academy. In 2012, the Los Angeles Times attacked the demographics of Academy membership, implying racial discrimination. I responded with a powerful editorial applauded by many governors, past presidents, Dawn Hudson and Cheryl Boone Isaacs. I then met with Dawn and Cheryl with suggestions on moving the Academy forward. One suggestion, making it possible for the membership, in the electronic age, to communicate with each other, as implemented for Cinema 2.0 participants.
Four years later, the Academy is again attacked for racial insensitivity, but now, the Academy becomes part of the problem. Without consulting the membership, or the executive committees, the Academy leadership overreacts to loud disgruntled voices, announcing a program of age discrimination and disenfranchisement of older members. Thereby, replacing false accusations with actual discrimination of many older members.
Again I spoke out in the Los Angeles Times with an editorial, defending the Academy from charges of racism, and calling out the Academy leadership for announcing severe measures without consulting the membership.
Read my Academy editorials: http://williamgoldstein.com/arts.html
I’m against all forms of discrimination, particularly racism and ageism. I came to Los Angeles as a Motown recording artist, discovered by Berry Gordy. Living for years in an interracial bubble, approaching Martin Luther King’s dream of a colorblind society. That dream more distant today.
For 30 years I’ve served on the CSSSA board, championing inclusivity, finding talented high school students from diverse backgrounds and granting scholarships for our summer arts program. In 2012, at my own expense, I gave master classes across the country at performing arts high schools. http://williamgoldstein.com/Masterclass.html
As a governor I would propose that major changes of policies be presented to the Academy executive committees for ratification. Those ratified proposals, presented to the membership for a vote. We live in a democracy, let’s act like one. I would facilitate communication between members.
We must strive to restore and maintain the integrity of the Academy, and guarantee our vitality by seeking out the most talented newcomers, simultaneously mining the wisdom and experience of our older members.
Laura Karpman (challenger)
I am a new member of the Academy, class of 2015. I am the third woman composer in the music branch and the first admitted since the mid ‘90s. Being a member of the Academy is a dream come true, and as a new member, I feel that I have a fresh perspective.
I have been an active composer for over 25 years and I work in every genre. I am a four-time Emmy winner, have won awards for my video game music and was nominated for an Annie. My collaboration with The Roots just won a 2016 Grammy. I have scored studio and independent film as well as documentaries, and I have a television series on the air.
Every minute of every day, I am thrilled and honored to be able to practice my art. Although I have had great success, I have also experienced mind-blowing sexism.
But today, I see incredible optimism in our business — I see a hunger for diversity everywhere, and I see a community accepting the challenge of inclusion. I hear the many vibrant voices of talented and accomplished composers who make up this plural, electric landscape. I want to bring this perspective to the Board of Governors.
I serve on the executive committee of the Television Academy, as an advisor at the Sundance Institute Scoring Labs, and am on the faculty of the scoring program at USC. I am a founding member and president of the Alliance of Women Film Composers. I am passionate about nurturing new talent and widening the perspectives of our community.
Let’s be leaders in our field while not compromising quality — let’s evolve our screening procedures so the fine work of more composers is seen and heard.
Let’s acknowledge the huge range of musical talent in our field and recognize our responsibility as trendsetters for the world — let’s celebrate the past while embracing the future.
If elected, I will work tirelessly to listen to the concerns of our branch members and communicate these concerns to the Academy. I will help negotiate change in a way that opens doors to new highly qualified members without closing them for valued current members.
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PUBLIC RELATIONS BRANCH
Bruce Feldman (challenger)
If elected, my promise to members of the Public Relations Branch is simple: I will keep you informed and I will listen to you.
For far too long, Academy members have been kept in the dark as our governors deliberated and then enacted sweeping, sometimes controversial, and often unexpected changes in rules or policies which directly affect each of us. It isn’t a question of agreement or disagreement, it’s that each individual member should be part of the process. I don’t like reading decisions made on my behalf in the trade papers, do you?
We all were admitted to the Academy by a vote of our peers. We are expected to vote at Oscar time. Shouldn’t our voices count all year round? So, the first thing I’ll do as your governor is to represent you. I’ll always tell you what the major issues are as soon as they come up, ask for your views and feedback, and then, and only then, work with other governors to solve problems and move our organization forward.
I believe that my obligation as your governor is to be accountable and responsible, but also to be inclusive by encouraging your participation. The board’s recent “emergency” decision to disenfranchise an entire class of members is the polar opposite of that. To be clear, I fully support the Academy’s diversity efforts. I simply don’t believe we should be undertaking this or any major policy initiative without the engagement, participation and advice of members. Nor should we be vilifying an entire class of members. What’s your view about this? I want to know.
If you feel as I do, rejoice with me in the Academy’s decision to open up elections to the board of governors to our entire membership. It’s a huge step forward in transparency. Together we will bring governance of the Academy out of the shadows and into the bright light of day.
My space is limited here. Over the coming weeks I’ll be posting specifics on these and other issues affecting the Academy on Twitter (@BruceRFeldman) and on a Facebook page open only to members of the Public Relations Branch, which you can find here. Look for them, and please tell me how you feel about my views and what issues are important to you.
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Ira Rubenstein (challenger)
For more than 25 years, I have been on the front lines of the film industry’s digital evolution, having worked for leading content creators and distributors including Fox, Sony, Marvel and now PBS. I believe the Academy needs board members who, like me, respect the film industry’s storied history, but who can help lead it into the future — where the lines between film, television and digital content are becoming ever more blurry.
In my current role as head of digital and marketing for PBS, I’m leading a team charged with bringing film and television content to the widest possible audience through the entire life cycle — including theatrical, broadcast, digital, SVOD and home entertainment. PBS is the home for independent films representing a diversity of voices, cultures and viewpoints, and with recent film projects such as the Oscar-nominated Last Days in Vietnam and the critically acclaimed The Black Panthers, we saw that making these projects available in theaters, on television and online brought in new, diverse audiences to these films — what we refer to as “more is more.”
I think these learnings could be very helpful to the Academy at a time when the industry is seeing such seismic shifts in the way films are seen and distributed.
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Gary Shapiro (challenger)
Most of you know my dedication to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Most of you also know that I get things done in a low-key manner. Well, I recently submitted my name to run for governor of the PR branch of the Academy under the new and enlightened voting rules.
I’m fortunate to have been an active member of the Academy since 1979 as a young studio executive. Former Academy president Richard Kahn gave me my first job at Columbia Pictures “straight outta college.” I spent many years at Columbia moving up the marketing ranks and years later became a senior vp of marketing at Sony Pictures Entertainment. I also served in similar positions at Hemdale, which won best picture Oscars for Platoon and The Last Emperor, and Beacon Pictures, which produced many big hits including Air Force One, The Hurricane, Spy Game and Thirteen Days, which through my team’s marketing efforts brought us to Havana for the 40th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Soon thereafter, I became a consultant to the Cuban Film Institute.
I’ve been an active member of the Academy for all these years and have served on the Foreign Language Film Selection Committee for a long time. Many of my friends on the committee know that Jane and I see well over 70 percent of the foreign films on the big screen submitted for Oscar consideration each year, where you are required to see far less. It’s a small group of members who spend many hours during awards season at the Academy and additional screenings judging submissions from all over the world.
I support diversity, transparency, a top-quality Academy and an organization that is at the cutting edge of our industry. I especially believe in and support open discussions with as many members as possible on issues that matter to all members well in advance of voting on them. Democratic process and transparency all around!
I would also like us to devise a plan to encourage more participation and involvement in Academy activities by newer members.
In an era of “don’t judge me,” this organization makes judgment calls on a high level of quality and representational aspects of movies for global audiences. It’s very important that our members’ years of experience be valued in every way as the future relies on what came before, always building on that foundation.
While I will not mount an aggressive campaign for this governorship, you can contact me on Facebook or by email.
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