11:15am PT by Scott Feinberg
Film Academy Grants Agents Right to Vote for Oscars
In a decision that is sure to spark considerable debate, the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted to give "artists representatives" — more commonly known as agents — the right to vote for Oscars.
For decades, select agents have been admitted to the Academy as associate members, meaning they enjoy all of the privileges of membership — member screenings, screeners, etc. — except voting.
Henceforth, all agents who are already members will be transferred to the members-at-large branch — members of which do not fall neatly under one of the Academy's 17 other branches, but do still get to vote — and all agents who are invited to become members in the future will automatically join that branch.
Agents have long argued that they are integral members of the Hollywood community who deserve full-fledged membership. Others, however, have contended that agents come with built in biases that will lead them to support their own clients or their agency's clients, risking the possibility of bloc voting. (That argument has always been somewhat undercut by the fact that public relations specialists, who are in a similar situation, have had an Academy branch for decades.)
One reason why the Academy may have chosen this moment to expand its membership to include agents: its desire to further increase the number of women and people of color who are members as part of its recently announced Academy Aperture 2025 initiative.
Indeed, new Academy member invitations are expected to be announced later this week.