AMPAS moving testimonial awards

Move will alter next year's Oscar broadcast

In another move that will further alter the shape of the annual Oscar broadcast, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Friday that its moving its testimonial awards to a separate event in November.

Academy honors -- like the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award (which recognizes producers), the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and Honorary Awards -- had traditionally been given out during the Oscar telecast. Moving forward, they will be handed out instead at a new, black-tie dinner event for about 500 invitees, which will include film clips as well as remarks from the honorees' colleagues.

The Academy's board of governors approved the change Tuesday night at its monthly meeting, where it also approved the idea of nominating 10, rather than five, movies for best picture.

In past years, the honorees were chosen in December. Under the new process, they now will be selected by the board of governors in September.

There will not be more than one Hersholt nor more than one Thalberg Award voted in any given year, the Academy said. Including the Honorary Awards -- in effect, special career Oscars -- no more than four testimonial awards will be given in a single year.

While the Academy said the honorees will also be acknowledged during the broadcast, presumably the show will not spend as much time highlighting their careers -- which, in turn, would make room for shifting the spotlight to the bigger list of best picture nominees.

"For some years now, the board has struggled to balance the desire to truly honor worthy individuals with the time limitations that the Oscar telecast imposes on these honors," Academy president Sid Ganis said in announcing the change.

"By creating a separate event for recognizing these outstanding people in the movie industry, we're ensuring that each honoree will be given his or her full due, without compromise."

While the move may have the effect of streamlining the Oscar show a bit, it also could lead to the loss of some of the emotional highlights such as the Honorary Award presentation to Sidney Poitier in 2002, which led to Denzel Washington's heartfelt salute to Poitier when Washington accepted his best actor trophy for "Training Day."

Other recent recipients of the awards were Jerry Lewis, presented with the Hersholt Award at February's broadcast; art director Robert Boyle, who received an Honorary Award in 2008; and Dino De Laurentiis, who was honored with the Thalberg Award in 2001.
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