After backlash, Oscars will present all 23 awards live on air

After fierce backlash from its own members over changes to this year’s Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will once again present all 23 award categories live during the 2023 broadcast.

Academy Chief Executive Bill Kramer confirmed to Variety on Tuesday that the upcoming show will return to its traditional format after eight less starry Oscar categories were removed from the live broadcast in March, sparking widespread anger at the organization’s grass roots.

“We’re committed to having a show that celebrates the craftsmen, the arts and sciences, and the collaborative nature of filmmaking,” Kramer told Variety. “That is precisely the Academy’s mission, and I am very confident that we can make a show that celebrates all components of filmmaking in a fun and engaging way.”

To trim the often bloated show to under three hours, the Academy presented eight categories of under-the-line and short films off-air prior to the launch of the latest live broadcast. The winning speeches in the categories concerned – film editing, make-up and hairstyling, original music, production design and sound as well as the three short film categories – were subsequently cut into the program in a shortened form.

Ahead of the show, the ratings move was branded an insult to cinema by some of the industry’s most prominent figures, including Jane Campion, Steven Spielberg, Denis Villeneuve and Guillermo del Toro.

In an open letter, 70 prominent film professionals – including James Cameron, John Williams and former academy governor Kathleen Kennedy – have blasted the plan, saying it would do “irreparable damage” to the Oscars’ reputation by naming some of the film’s key craftsmen as ” second-class citizens.”

The experiment eventually failed when the show lasted 3 hours and 40 minutes, leaving many members embittered. In a statement following the Academy Awards, the American Cinema Editors Society said, “We feel betrayed, offended and upset that our art was deemed superfluous in favor of bloated performances and spectacle.”

Since assuming leadership of the academy in June, Kramer has had numerous discussions with members and other academy leaders, while making clear his own desire to bring all award categories back to live broadcast.

Speaking to a round table with reporters in August, Kramer said, “We want all disciplines on the show to be given equal recognition. That’s our goal. There are many ways to do that. And that’s what we’re working through with ABC right now.”

In recent years, the academy has come under increasing pressure from ABC, its longtime broadcast partner, to reverse the precipitous decline in ratings at the Oscars. Boosted by the controversy surrounding Will Smith slapping Chris Rock, this year’s show drew an average of 16.6 million viewers, a 60% increase from the pandemic-damaged 2021 television show but still the second-lowest viewership in the world history of the show.

The 95th Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theater on March 12, 2023, with Jimmy Kimmel returning as host for the third time after two consecutive stints in 2017 and 2018. After backlash, Oscars will present all 23 awards live on air

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