Academy's decision to cut Oscar shows and promote 'Fan Favorite' may stifle voters, but not rating, according to Peter Bart

Academy's decision to cut Oscar shows and promote 'Fan Favorite' may stifle voters, but not rating,  ...

The star of the Motion Picture Academy announced that he would veto the admission of a new voting member because to the fact that he drank no professional qualifications. In 1967, the Academy became too populist. It must retain its elite status.

The person who asked to veto was me. I wish his ban had been successful, but it was soon overturned (details below).

Peck, a stickler for his profession, would respond to recent Academy decisions about his show, its awards, and its membership. Witness the latest campaign to establish a #OscarFanFavorite, a popular film to be selected by Twitter and presented by an Oscar fan. In addition,, edited for later use on a streamlined live Oscarcast.

These steps, owing to its yearly reach of 10,000+ members, would suggest to Peck a growing populist shift; as well as a certain paranoia about Oscar's declining television ratings and its sluggish film audience.

The Oscar season in the future has been defined by an uneasy quiet. Those who have been around Hollywood for a while remember the spirited comments each year about Best Picture nominees. Was Gandhi truly worthy of attention than Saving Private Ryan? Was the noise of promotion causing the quiet mission of cinema?

This year, the drumbeat of a few elite critics combined with Netflix's omniscience has given an edge to one popular: a film that, according to Manohla Dargis of the New York Times, may be Mank, a Netflix film that "wins one nomination for every person who sees it." Skeptics also speculate that actual ticket purchasers are more energized by Channing Tatum's new movie Dog than Jane Campion's Dog.

The pro-populist chorus has been re-ignited for the dismal appearance of a Spider-Man or James Bond contender. Some awards gurus had thought that so-called audience films would once again infiltrate the winners list due to the Academy's large membership.

In the Gregory Peck period, some semi-genre films like To Kill a Mockingbird or In the Heat of the Night seemed to satisfy both ticket purchasers and cineastes. In his zenith, Peck himself constituted a solid bond in the industry, a gifted actor who showed respect to his roles in contrast to the James Dean "angry rebel."

Peck and I had never met before his opposition to my Oscar nomination in 1967 an obscure detail first told me by Michael Schulman, the New Yorker's talented pop culture correspondent who is writing an Oscar history. At the time, I was recruited by Paramount Pictures to become production vice president under Robert Evans, the studio director.

Paramount's aim, according to me, was to develop a variety of film offerings that would appeal to ticket buyers and Academy voters four months after that assignment. I resisted, pointing out that I had been a journalist rather than a filmmaker, but the Academy claimed that I was already developing several potentially significant films. Besides, they needed young members to maintain a geriatric state.

Peck stepped aside his veto to produce films like Gentleman's Agreement and On the Beach. Despite his impressive statements, Paramount both developed and released such films as The Godfather and Chinatown. Throughout, film promotion was being reinvented in order to feed the broad new markets of cable and video.

Peck, who passed in 2003, would be dissatisfied with the Academy's challenges and its proposed solutions. Indeed, he would likely oppose the #OscarFanFavorite. Or on the streamlined show.

Remember, he was aggressive enough to sidestep me.

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