2022 Oscar winners politely protest TV broadcast changes

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When hosts Jason Momoa and Josh Brolin took the stage for the Oscars pre-show early Sunday night, Momoa cut to the chase: “It’s a different year,” he said. “We want to address the elephant in the room.”

The punchline was that the actors weren’t going to do the usual Oscar song-and-dance routine. But many of this year’s Oscar nominees weren’t laughing because there really was an elephant in the room: For the first time in Oscars history, eight award categories were dropped from broadcast television and featured in the previous hour, as the stars were still walking the red carpet outside the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

Although the film academy then incorporated the winners and their speeches into the telecast, the question remained: the winners in these categories – film editing, makeup and hair, production design, original music, sound and the three competitions of short films – would they talk about their feelings scorned by their own industry?

Beyond the indirect comments made by “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” makeup and hair winners, the winners avoided amplifying the controversy. The first person to address the telecast change head-on was “Dune” cinematographer Greig Fraser when he addressed reporters in the Oscars press room.

After being asked to comment on the change, Fraser made the press room laugh with his response: “How long do you have?”

“Seriously, because I could probably tell you about [it] for about 35 minutes… 30 hours, actually.

Fraser, whose category has been retained in the mainline broadcast as in the past, went on to call the pre-show “fun.”

“Do you know why it was fun?” Because it was a little more informal – that’s why it was fun. But it’s tricky, you know. I know we balance the economy with award shows, but movies are made by the sound guys, by the visual effects supervisors, by the editors, by the production designers. That’s how movies are made, and it seems odd to have random relegation.

“Everyone in this crowd realizes and understands why this is happening. Like, we’re not dumb, and we understand economics. But at the same time, it’s up to us, I think, to change the economy. To change the fact that… we want to encourage kids looking at these awards to be like, ‘You know what? I’m not an actor, I’m not a director, I’m not a producer, but I want to be a makeup artist.'”

“Cruella” winner costume designer Jenny Beavan said the merge of pre-show winners into the live stream was “much better than I feared.” But she added that she “didn’t feel like it was fair and she felt like it was very disrespectful. I think they really need to think about it for next year.

Prominent nominees including Steven Spielberg, Jane Campion, Denis Villeneuve and Guillermo del Toro have denounced the change in format, which some say made the craft categories look like second- or third-tier races.

Before the show, during the pre-airing ceremony, much of Hollywood clearly made an effort to show up early and support their fellow below the line. Spielberg entered the room early; “Licorice Pizza” writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson and Maya Rudolph rushed to their seats as the Dolby bar closed and awards organizers worked hard to get crowds seated for the top prize presentation.

But as the lights flashed for the audience to be seated and the hosts read out the names of the first winners, big stars such as Javier Bardem, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tyler Perry and Bill Murray were just arriving on the red carpet.

Fraser reiterated that he understands the film academy’s reasons for making the switch, but called it “shortsighted”.

“I just want my special collaborators, especially production design, editing, makeup and hair, to be equally rewarded for the work they do.”

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