Thursday, January 30, 2014

Academy Rescinds Original Song Nomination For "Alone Yet Not Alone" [UPDATED]

On Tuesday night, the Academy’s Board of Governors voted to rescind the Original Song nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” music by Bruce Broughton and lyric by Dennis Spiegel. The decision was prompted by the discovery that Broughton, a former Governor and current Music Branch executive committee member, had emailed members of the branch to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period.

"No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President.

The Board determined that Broughton’s actions were inconsistent with the Academy’s promotional regulations, which provide, among other terms, that “it is the Academy's goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner. If any campaign activity is determined by the Board of Governors to work in opposition to that goal, whether or not anticipated by these regulations, the Board of Governors may take any corrective actions or assess any penalties that in its discretion it deems necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process.”

My personal feeling on the matter is that the Academy made the right decision. While some are accusing them of being hypocritical or inconsistent, they are much more credible than people think – especially in comparison to other awards. The song in question is awful and from a movie almost no one heard of let alone saw, but the composer managed to convince branch members to nominate it. So while other movies have campaigns, they are discreet and not guaranteed to succeed. This song's nomination was clearly the result of Broughton's position of influence and not the quality of the work.

An additional nominee in the Original Song category will not be named. The remaining nominees in the category are:

“Happy” from Despicable Me 2
Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams

“Let It Go” from Frozen
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

“The Moon Song” from Her
Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze

“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson

The members from each of the Academy’s branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories – actors nominate actors, film editors nominate film editors, musicians and composers nominate song and score.

During the nominations process, all 240 voting members of the Music Branch received a Reminder List of works submitted in the Original Song category and a DVD copy of the song clips with film and song title only (additional information including composer and lyricist is not provided). Members were asked to watch the clips and then vote in the order of their preference for not more than five nominees in the category. A maximum of two songs may be nominated from any one film.

Academy Awards® for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar® Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscars, produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.


[UPDATE, Feb 1, 2014] After a lot of noise from conservative and Christian media accusing the Academy of anti-Christian "bigotry," the Academy issued a further statement to explain its decision.

Statement Regarding "Alone Yet Not Alone" Song Decision

The Board of Governors’ decision to rescind the Original Song nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” music by Bruce Broughton, was made thoughtfully and after careful consideration. The Academy takes very seriously anything that undermines the integrity of the Oscars® voting process. The Board regretfully concluded that Mr. Broughton’s actions did precisely that.

The nominating process for Original Song is intended to be anonymous, with each eligible song listed only by title and the name of the film in which it is used—the idea being to prevent favoritism and promote unbiased voting. It’s been a long-standing policy and practice of the Academy—as well as a requirement of Rule 5.3 of the 86th Academy Awards® Rules—­­to omit composer and lyricist credits from the DVD of eligible songs that are sent to members of the Music Branch. The Academy wants members to vote for nominees based solely on the achievement of a particular song in a movie, without regard to who may have written it.

Mr. Broughton sent an email to at least 70 of his fellow Music Branch members—nearly one-third of the branch’s 240 members. When he identified the song as track #57 as one he had composed, and asked voting branch members to listen to it, he took advantage of information that few other potential nominees are privy to. As a former Academy Governor and current member of the Music Branch’s executive committee, Mr. Broughton should have been more cautious about acting in a way that made it appear as if he were taking advantage of his position to exert undue influence. At a minimum, his actions called into question whether the process was "fair and equitable," as the Academy's rules require. The Academy is dedicated to doing everything it can to ensure a level playing field for all potential Oscar® contenders—including those who don’t enjoy the access, knowledge, and influence of a long-standing Academy insider.

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