Academy Renews Dawn Hudson’s Contract as CEO

The AMPAS Board of Governors approves an extension for the exec whose first three years were occasionally rough

Matt Petit/AMPAS

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted to renew the contract of AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson for another three years, the Academy confirmed on Tuesday night.

The vote came at a Tuesday evening meeting, with members of the board making their decision a month before the expiration of the three-year contract signed by Hudson in 2011.

Hudson has been negotiating the renewal for the past couple of months, but her contract was subject to the approval of the 51-member board.

Terms of the new contract were not disclosed. In fiscal 2012, the last period for which public records are available, Hudson’s total compensation was $324,842.

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While Hudson, who came to the Academy from Film Independent, had some rough times in her first years at the Academy, one governor told TheWrap she had “weathered the storm” and gained the support of a majority of the board months ago.

The strong ratings for the last two Academy Awards shows, and the recent rehiring of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to produce the Oscars for the third consecutive year, were signs that the board felt things were on the right track. The recent progress made on the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is expected to break ground next year, was also a plus for Hudson.

During the three years of Hudson’s tenure, the Academy had made dramatic changes in its culture and structure – changes that ruffled the feathers of some in the tradition-bound organization.

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Under Hudson, a number of new hires were made in top positions, leading to the departure of longtime staffers both within the Academy and within the production of the Oscars. The latest to leave was Ric Robertson, a 30-year Academy veteran who occupied the COO role alongside Hudson but opted last year to depart that position and become a consultant for the Academy.

Hudson’s push to modernize the Academy, which accelerated during the 2012-2013 tenure of one-term, activist president Hawk Koch, didn’t always run smoothly. For instance, when she and Koch appealed to individual branch committees to invite more women and people of color to join, some members grumbled that they were meddling with the membership process.

On the other hand, she and the Academy had previously been lambasted for the largely aging, white, male composition of the organization.

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The transition from paper ballots to online voting was also a rocky one, though Koch and Robertson were made the public faces of that effort, which drew complaints but also led to record voter turnout.

Spending by the Academy has also increased under Hudson, though not to the same degree as revenue. In fiscal 2013, according to the Academy’s annual statement, AMPAS spending increased by almost $9 million to $97.3 million, while revenues increased by $31 million to $134.4 million. The Oscar show was responsible for almost 70 percent of the organization’s revenue.