Over the weekend, The New York Times broke the news that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has invited its 6,000-strong membership to a May 4 session to be held in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco to discuss…something. "Please join us for a special event: The future of the Academy," the invite read, somewhat mysteriously.
Calling the event "unprecedented," Deadline's Pete Hammond wrote that it would be more apt to consider it a "mixer on a much larger scale." One should not, however, expect major issues like the number of Best Picture nominees or the Academy's calendar to be on the table in any significant way. After all, it's not exactly a democracy. Those decisions are left to the elected Board of Governors.
It could, however, just be an attempt by one-year AMPAS President Hawk Koch to make waves while he can before terming out (per regulations) after serving his nine years as a governor in the Academy. Similarly, presenting a "Wayne's World" reunion at the Academy with Lorne Michaels, Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey in attendance seems curiously self-serving; Koch was the executive producer of the film and the event graced the cover of the monthly newsletter to members for April rather than more fitting programs built around Oscar-winners such as "Jurassic Park 3D" (screening tonight) or "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" (screening Thursday).
Whatever results from the May 4 meeting won't likely be groundbreaking, one member told me in my calls this week. "Rumor is it has something to do with ABC," the member said, speculating that extending the current contract for the Oscars telecast with the network past 2020 could come out of the event. Or some sort of news about the on-going Academy museum project. "Stuff you could do in a newsletter," the member said. "It seems like a self-aggrandizing measure to push Hawk and Dawn [Hudson, CEO of the Academy], and she's clearly in trouble," the member went on, alluding to reported tension between Hudson and the older guard, which seems ever resistant to change.
At the end of the day, while the meeting may present an opportunity for "questions and conversation with our members," as the invite states, the mere appearance of being so progressive could ultimately be the biggest goal. As Koch sets his sites on returning to the fold after taking his required year away from administrative activities with the organization, surely he would like to leave something memorable behind.
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