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Academy New Members Invitations + More Rule Changes

Academy invites 105 new members

Ruby DeeThe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is inviting 105 artists and executives to join its ranks of voting members in 2008.

Among the invitees are several of this year’s Oscar nominees and winners, including best actress winner Marion Cotillard, Best Supporting Actress nominee Ruby Dee (right, who should have been a member since 1961, at least), director Jason Reitman, and screenwriters Tamara Jenkins, Diablo Cody, and Nancy Oliver.

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Veteran screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière keeps getting invited – and apparently keeps ignoring his invitations – every year.

As per the Academy’s press release, “the membership policies that the Academy adopted in 2004 in order to slow the growth of the organization would have allowed a maximum of 137 new members in 2008, but as in the previous years, the various branch committees sometimes endorsed fewer candidates than were proposed to them. Voting membership in the organization has now held steady at just under 6,000 members since 2003.”

New members will be welcomed into the Academy at an invitation-only reception at the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study in Beverly Hills in September.

Photos: Michael Yada / ©A.M.P.A.S. (Brolin), Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S. (Tichenor, Dee, Apatow), © Focus Features (Salles), © Warner Bros. (Li), Courtesy of AMPAS (Cohen)

The 2008 invitees are:

Sacha Baron Cohen
Josh Brolin
Marion Cotillard
Ruby Dee
Allison Janney
Jet Li
Ray Winstone

David Bowers
Ash Brannon
Doug Cooper
Jeremy Lasky
Caroline Leaf
David Schaub
David Silverman
Suzie Templeton

Jim Houston
Neil Machlis
Sheila Nevins

Casting Directors
Ronna Kress

Jonathan W. Brown
Clark Mathis
Kramer Morgenthau
J. Michael Muro
Tim Orr
Tom Richmond

Costume Designers
Isis Mussenden

Sergei Bodrov
James Gray
Michael Haneke
Doug Liman
Kimberly Peirce
Peyton Reed
Jason Reitman
Walter Salles
Gore Verbinski

Nanette Burstein
Heidi Ewing
Liz Garbus
Michele Ohayon
Deborah Shaffer

Alan Bergman
Dana Goldberg
Sidney Kimmel
Chris S. LeRoy
Andrew Rona
Jeff Skoll

Film Editors
Barry Alexander Brown
John Carnochan
John Gilroy
Mark Livolsi
Dylan Tichenor
Juliette Welfling

Live Action Short Films
Philippe Pollet-Villard

Jan Archibald
Kate Biscoe
Didier Lavergne
Christien Tinsley

Glen Ballard
J. J. George
Michael Giacchino

Armyan Bernstein
Jennifer Fox
Lianne Halfon
Hal Lieberman
Andrew Macdonald
Karen Murphy
Peter R. Newman
JoAnne Sellar

Production Designers
Jack Fisk
Clayton R. Hartley

Public Relations
Stephanie Allen
Suzanne Fritz
Kevin Goetz
Stephanie Kluft
Tim Palen
Marc Weinstock

Set Decorators
Larry Dias
Katie Spencer
Sandy Reynolds Wasco

Craig Berkey
Fernando Camara
David Giammarco
Mike Hopkins
Robert J. Kizer
Alyson Dee Moore
Mark Onks
Jon Taylor

Stunt Coordinators
Melissa R. Stubbs

Visual Effects
Nick Davis
Brian Gernand
Dan Glass
Bryan Grill
Edward T. Hirsh
Helena Packer
Kelly Port
Ted Rae
Doug Roble
Carey Villegas

Judd Apatow (photo)
David Benioff
Jean-Claude Carriere
Diablo Cody
Tamara Jenkins
Jeff Nathanson
Nancy Oliver

Oscar rule changes

At a June 17 meeting, the governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved the rules for the 81st Academy Awards. As per the Academy’s press release, the only “significant changes” were in the Music – Original Song and in the ever-evolving (sometimes devolving) Foreign Language Film Award categories. Other modifications consisted of “normal date changes and minor ‘housekeeping’ changes.”

As per the release, there were three noteworthy modifications in the Original Song category. They are:

“While there continues to be no limit on the number of songs from a given film that can be submitted for consideration, no more than two songs from any one film may be nominated for an Academy Award. [In 2008, three songs from Enchanted were nominated.]

“Also, in addition to the annual screening event at which members of the Music Branch view clips featuring the eligible songs as they appear in the films and vote, DVDs of those same clips will be made available to branch members who are unable to attend the screening; ballots will accompany the DVDs and must be returned by mail.

“Music Branch members who have one or more songs in contention for nominations do not vote in that phase of the balloting. They remain eligible to vote on the final ballot to select the winner.

The major change in the Foreign Language Film Award “is a procedural one rather than one in the rules per se.” The procedure in question is a result of the brouhaha that followed the foreign-language Oscar voting members’ leaving out of this year’s list of semi-finalists the acclaimed 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Stellet licht, Persepolis, The Edge of Heaven, and Secret Sunshine. (The 2008 best foreign-language film Oscar winner was the mundane The Counterfeiters.)

According to the release, “for the 81st Academy Awards, the two-phase process by which the nominees are selected will remain intact. However, the Phase I committee – which is open to any voting member who views a minimum number of the eligible films – will now vote to determine only six of the nine films that will ultimately go to the Phase II committee. The other three titles will be determined by those members of the 20-member Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee who have qualified to vote in the category. The executive committee’s selections will be made after the Phase I voting has been tallied.”

In other words, the Executive Committee will have to a say in the Phase I list so as to ensure that the foreign-language film voting members’ much-criticized choices aren’t the only ones up for an Oscar nomination. Once again, the Academy has opted to use a band-aid to cover up that category’s gaping hole.

Complete rules for all categories can be viewed online at

Academy Award nominations in all categories will be announced on Jan. 22. In the United States, the 81st Academy Awards presentation will be telecast live by the ABC Television Network on Sunday, Feb. 22.


‘Simulacra’ & ‘On the Line’ among Student Academy Award winners

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 35th Annual Student Academy Awards ceremony was held on June 7 at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. (See further below images from the Student Academy Awards ceremony.)

The winners were:

Honorary Foreign Film

On the Line (Auf der Strecke), Reto Caffi. Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, Germany.


  • Gold Medal: Viola: The Traveling Rooms of a Little Giant, Shih-Ting Hung. University of Southern California.
  • Silver Medal: Circles of Confusion, Phoebe Tooke. San Francisco State University.

*Only two medals were awarded in the Alternative category.


  • Gold Medal: Zoologic, Nicole Mitchell. California Institute of the Arts.
  • Silver Medal: Simulacra, Tatchapon Lertwirojkul. The School of Visual Arts, New York.
  • Bronze Medal: The Visionary, Evan Mayfield. Ringling College of Art and Design, Florida.


  • Gold Medal: As We Forgive, Laura Waters Hinson. American University, Washington, D.C.
  • Silver Medal: Unattached, J.J. Adler. Columbia University.
  • Bronze Medal: If a Body Meet a Body, Brian Davis. University of Southern California.


  • Gold Medal: A Day’s Work, Rajeev Dassani. University of Southern California.
  • Silver Medal: The State of Sunshine, Z. Eric Yang. Florida State University.
  • Bronze Medal: Pitstop, Melanie McGraw. University of Southern California.

Cash prizes

In addition to the trophies, Gold Medal recipients received $5,000, Silver Medal recipients $3,000, Bronze Medal recipients $2,000, and the Honorary Foreign Film winner – a curiously modest – $1,000.

As per the Academy’s press release, “the U.S. students first competed in one of three regional competitions. Each of those regions was permitted to send as many as three finalist films in each of the four award categories. Academy members then screened the films and voted to select the winners.”

On the Line (Auf der Strecke) “was selected from a pool of 43 submissions, representing foreign colleges and universities in 29 countries.”

Student Academy Awards winners
Student Academy Awards’ winners.

2008 Student Academy Awards: Winners group photo

The 2008 Student Academy Awards ceremony featured as presenters Oscar-nominated writer-director Jason Reitman, Oscar-nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, former Student Academy Award winner and Emmy-winning director Todd Holland, and Academy President Sid Ganis.

Featured in the Student Academy Awards winners group photo above are the following (from left to right):

Rajeev Dassani. Phoebe Tooke. Reto Caffi. Melanie McGraw. Evan Mayfield. J.J. Adler. Nicole Mitchell.

Tatchapon Lertwirojkul. Shih-Ting Hung. Z. Eric Yang. Laura Waters Hinson. Brian Davis.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

2008 Student Academy Awards group photo: Matt Petit / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Caleb Deschanel, Brian Davis
Caleb Deschanel, Brian Davis (If a Body Meet a Body)

Caleb Deschanel

Veteran Caleb Deschanel’s feature film credits as a cinematographer – about 20 overall, since the mid-1970s – include:

Deschanel has been nominated for five Academy Awards:

  • The Right Stuff (1983).
  • The Natural (1984).
  • Fly Away Home (1996).
  • The Patriot (2000).
  • The Passion of the Christ (2004).

Brian Davis and Caleb Deschanel photo: Greg Harbaugh / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Jason Reitman Melanie McGraw
Jason Reitman and Student Academy Award winner Melanie McGraw (‘Pitstop’).

Jason Reitman

The son of director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Dave), Jason Reitman’s movie credits include the following:

  • Best Picture Academy Award nominee Juno (2007), with earned Reitman a Best Director Oscar nomination.
    Cast: Ellen Page. Michael Cera. Jason Bateman. Jennifer Garner. Allison Janney.
  • Thank You for Smoking (2005).
    Cast: Aaron Eckhart. Maria Bello. Cameron Bright. Robert Duvall.

Melanie McGraw and Jason Reitman photo: Greg Harbaugh / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Todd Holland, Shih-Ting Hung
Todd Holland and Student Academy Award winner Shih-Ting Hung (‘Viola: The Traveling Rooms of a Little Giant’).

Todd Holland

Todd Holland has been mostly a television producer-director. His TV credits include The Larry Sanders Show, Malcolm in the Middle, Ball & Chain, Fugly, and the 2006 version of The Time Tunnel, toplining David Conrad and Dion Luther.

Among Holland’s rare film credits is the 2007 comedy Firehouse Dog, featuring Josh Hutcherson, Bruce Greenwood, Bill Nunn, and the director’s spouse, Scotch Ellis Loring.

While a UCLA student, in 1986 Todd Holland received the “Merit” accolade in the Student Academy Awards’ Dramatic category for the short Chicken Thing.

Shih-Ting Hung and Todd Holland photo: Greg Harbaugh / ©A.M.P.A.S.

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