A Weinstein Company email that appears to skirt AMPAS campaign rules by using a third party to reach Oscar voters has stirred up anger among Academy members and rival campaigners.
But the email does not violate Academy regulations, AMPAS COO Ric Robertson told TheWrap on Tuesday. One of the organization's campaign rules, he said, "allows for media entities to send such things to valid subscribers who've opted into being a subscriber."
The email in question, which went out on Tuesday morning, is not part of Weinstein's aggressive Best Picture campaign on behalf of "The Artist," but instead promotes Meryl Streep's Best Actress candidacy for "The Iron Lady."
It was sent as a third-party advertisement by the Hollywood Reporter's parent company, Prometheus Global Media, to THR subscribers, some of whom are Academy members.
Headed "From: The Weinstein Company: The Iron Lady," its subject line reads "Exclusive Meryl Streep Video."
The email contains a "for your consideration" ad with an embedded link. The ad is headed with a Thelma Adams quote – "It's been TWENTY-NINE YEARS SINCE MERYL STREEP WON AN OSCAR and she certainly deserves to win for her performance in 'The Iron Lady'!" – and then contains a link to a video interview with Streep on the Weinstein website.
The interview is moderated by Pete Hammond, who mentions the 29-year gap in his introduction and says, "Something has to be done about that!"
Weinstein Company COO David Glasser responded: "We are surprised that a media outlet like TheWrap, which normally has journalistic integrity, would print the strange accusation of an anonymous competitor and use this as a direct broadside against Variety and The Hollywood Reporter." (The ad also was also sent from Variety.)
He added: "Not only are the Variety and Hollywood Reporter campaigns legal from an Academy standpoint, but they will be used by a number of different studios in the days ahead. It seems that every time TWC is innovative there is always some jealous competitor who… comes out of the woodwork."
Academy campaign rule number four specifically prohibits emails that "extol the merits of a film, an achievement or an individual," emails that contain references to past awards, and links to websites that promote an eligible film.
Rule five adds that references or links to websites are only allowed if the website contains basic screening information, with no promotion or "photographic, audio, video, graphical and other multimedia elements."
The email would clearly violate both rules if it were sent from Weinstein directly to Academy members. But because it went to THR's subscribers, many of whom are not Oscar voters, the email was legal under Academy campaign rules.
What likely bothered some Academy members, several of whom contacted TheWrap after receiving the email, is that initially the message appears to be directly from Weinstein.
Prometheus is only mentioned at the bottom of the email, below the TWC name and address. A line reads, "You are on the Prometheus Global Media, LLC Email list," and after an opt-out link adds, "Prometheus … is not responsible for the products or services presented in this message."
Some of the anger over the email appears directed at TWC's extensive campaign tactics; some can no doubt be attributed to annoyance with the company's success with Oscar voters, who seem likely to give TWC its second consecutive Best Picture winner this year.
Said Glasser: "This is the biggest non-story of the year."