Academy CEO Bill Kramer Lays Out Some New Goals, Talks 2023 Oscar Show Producers & Plans In “Exclusive” Interview To Membership

Academy CEO Bill Kramer Lays Out Some New Goals, Talks 2023 Oscar Show Producers & Plans In “Exclusive” Interview To Membership


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today not only sent out its latest edition of their digital newsletter, A. Frame, to its entire 10,000-plus membership, its also alerted press and made it available to them just an hour later. The reason for all this? An “exclusive” interview with new CEO Bill Kramer, who replaced Dawn Hudson last month.

Ramping up the public face of AMPAS’ efforts to be more transparent — not just in the media but also to its members — is a priority, and this A. Frame interview certainly marks the emergence of a new era for the organization that also will include upcoming press opportunities directly with Kramer but also an announced Academy membership meeting at the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in September, the first of multiple meetings of this type to be held over the course of a year. And there are many other ways Kramer hopes to turn around the sometimes rocky image the Academy has endured, particularly in light of unflattering press reports of falling Oscar ratings, #OscarsSoWhite, challenges to AMPAS leadership from members in the past, various follies to engage “fan participation” in the Oscars etc., etc.

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No question with the recent election of Janet Yang as president and the ascension of Kramer, who previously guided the long-delayed and long-awaited museum to its opening, this is indeed a new era at AMPAS.

In the A. Frame interview, writer Elisa Osegueda covers the waterfront of Kramer’s hopes for the Academy, why he is excited to take on the job, diversity efforts, the Museum, the state of the industry and its health including the Oscars and its thorny relationship in balancing theatrical exhibition for eligibility vs streamers, and so much more.

Specifics on the latter issue are not really revealed here. For instance there is no mention of the case of Searchlight and Hulu’s Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (or other films like it) which debuted on the streaming service without a single domestic theatrical engagement, but has just been granted a waiver for Oscar eligibility on a technicality (its release was set in stone before AMPAS announced new post-pandemic eligibility guidelines that require a theatrical run of at least 7 days). It hasn’t seen the light of a projection room before or since debuting on Hulu in mid-June but Emma Thompson is now eligible for Best Actress (as well she should be).

All that aside this is what Kramer had to say about the issue of streaming vs theatrical. “The theatrical experience is so important to our membership and to fully experiencing the arts and sciences of moviemaking. Watching movies is a communal experience. And, as movie theaters have reopened around the country, we have brought back the theatrical requirement for the 2023 Oscars,” he said. “I believe that a healthy theatrical environment is critical to the success of the industry and the Oscars. That being said, streaming allows for larger and more diverse audiences to watch movies. There is great value in that. Theatrical and streaming will continue to coexist, but now that the pandemic is becoming more manageable and people are returning to theaters, I think you will continue to see a theatrical requirement for eligibility.”

As to whether he could ever imagine the Oscars going live on a steaming service, rather than a broadcast network as has been the case since 1953 (mostly ABC as it is currently), “The Oscars are a live television show and there are already streaming extensions of the show. Our partner company, Disney-ABC, has two great streaming services — Disney+ and Hulu. Streaming gives the show a life beyond the live broadcast — but nothing replicates the experience of watching the Oscars live. I love the idea of the world coming together around cinema — not unlike what the Olympics and the Super Bowl do for sports. I think this model will continue to evolve, and linear and streaming will coexist together for the foreseeable future. A lot of this is tied to ad sales and how to provide the most value for our sponsors. I look forward to working with Disney-ABC to define what this looks like moving forward,” he said.

And in terms of the next Oscar show in March 2023, he confirmed he favors hiring producers for multiple Oscarcasts, such as has been done in the past with Neil Meron and the last Craig Zadan who were brought in to do three in a row a few years ago, or the late Gil Cates who shepherded 14 Oscarcasts. This would ease the learning curve that has resulted in some recent Oscars, particularly the complicated pandemic related telecasts of the past two years. “2023 is the 95th Oscars and the energy around the show should feel like a massive celebration of cinema and the awards — our legacy, our artists, our movies, our future. We are already hard at work with our partners at Disney-ABC on the show,” he said while strongly hinting there will be a required return of all Oscar categories live on the show ( controversially eight categories were presented in a pre-taped pre-show, edited, and rolled into the actual live telecast in order to save time – it didn’t).

“I would love to see: all artistic and scientific disciplines honored on the show; past Oscar winners on stage; celebrations of iconic past wins; and an emotional investment in the nominees. I think bringing on producers for multiple years is advisable and we are working on that as well. The 95th gives us a great opportunity to knit together the incredible legacy of the Oscars, the diverse and powerful work we do across the Academy, and our vision for the future.”

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