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John Bailey Wins Second Term as Academy President

The cinematographer will only be able to serve for one year before term limits force him off the board


John Bailey has been re-elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a second term, the Academy announced on Tuesday evening.

Bailey, a cinematographer, was first elected president last year. Although Academy presidents are permitted to serve four consecutive one-year terms, the upcoming term will be Bailey’s last. Because of term limits, he will have to leave the board next summer, which will make him ineligible for another term as president.

Bailey’s films include “Ordinary People,” “The Big Chill” and “Groundhog Day.” He is the first member of the Cinematographers Branch to serve as Academy president.

Four additional Academy officers were re-elected to their positions on the board: Lois Burwell as first vice president, Jim Gianopulos as treasurer, David Rubin as secretary and Nancy Utley as vice president. Former Academy president Sid Ganis, who returned to the board this year, and Writers Branch governor Larry Karaszewski were also elected to vice presidential posts.

AMPAS presidents are almost invariably re-elected if they are eligible, and Bailey was expected to prevail in Tuesday night’s vote from the 54-member board. But the election came at stormy time for the Academy and a tricky one for its president, who in March was the subject of an AMPAS investigation over a sexual-harassment allegation.

Bailey was unanimously cleared by an Academy board – but the fact that the investigation was leaked to the press angered him and his supporters, especially since details of the leak suggested that it had come from inside the Academy.

In addition to that tension, the board has had a high-profile defection in recent months, when producer Bill Mechanic resigned his position in April with a scathing letter that criticized Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, the organization’s response to the #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite movements and the financial drain of the behind-schedule, over-budget Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Following that, several notable members of the Board of Governors, including Steven Spielberg and longtime Academy official Kathleen Kennedy, opted not to run for re-election to a board that some members feel has become too big and unwieldy and is hopelessly divided between above-the-line and below-the-line representatives.

Over the last three years, the Academy has increased its size by more than 2,000 new members, growing by more than 25 percent. At the same time, viewership of the Oscars telecast, from which the Academy draws most of its operating income, have fallen steadily, hitting an all-time low in March, 2018.

In that climate, Bailey will face a final year in office. And if he wants to come back for more, he is free to run again for the board, and the presidency, after a one-year hiatus.