Newly elected Academy President David Rubin knows he’s got to work quickly in lining up a producer for next February’s Academy Awards. Next year’s show will take place on Feb. 9, two weeks earlier than usual, with an accelerated voting schedule to make the earlier date possible.
“With our early broadcast date, we’re focused on getting everything going on the Oscar broadcast,” said Rubin on Wednesday afternoon, after being chosen AMPAS president by the Board of Governors on Tuesday night. “Of course, we’re only 16 hours into my tenure as president — but give me a chance to focus and I’m sure things will come into place.”
He laughed. “I had planned to take a month off, but I guess that’s not in the cards.”
But traditionalists might be able to rest easy. “I don’t think we need to be changing the show,” he said. “I think we want to be reflective of whatever engages our audience. And that has to do each year with the movies themselves, with the culture itself. That level of flexibility in producing the Oscar show is to everyone’s advantage.”
However, Rubin said he’s not going to let people rush him on the long-awaited, long-delayed Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which suffered another setback this week when museum director Kerry Brougher announced his plans to leave the project and return to the art world.
“I look at it as the producing of any great motion picture,” Rubin told TheWrap of the $388 million project, which is nearing completion but has an unspecified 2020 opening. “We will release it when the moment is right. It’s nice to have that option — as opposed to some films that are released on a particular schedule, we can wait until it’s ready.”
Planning for the Oscars, however, can’t wait — and Rubin was circumspect about whether ideas that were introduced and then killed last year could be back on the table.
“We’re always discussing and always open to new ideas, and to readdressing old ideas,” he said. “I feel like it’s a dialogue that happens in partnership with our partners at ABC. Our focus is putting on the most compelling tribute to the year’s movies.”
Almost exactly a year ago, the board had a momentous meeting where they made several dramatic changes designed to increase ratings for the Oscars broadcast. They voted to give out a “popular Oscar,” an idea that lasted a month before being tabled for further discussion. They agreed to give out a few awards during the commercial break, a plan that drew so much flak it was killed just before the show. And they moved up the date, a decision that will likely be a one-time experiment, since they’ve already announced late-February dates for 2021 and 2022.
Rubin was equally vague when it comes to his priorities, which he said were “to follow the priorities of the Board of Governors to advance the missions of the Academy and to celebrate filmmaking on a global basis,” as well as “to not only diversify the Academy, but to try to promote diversification of the movie business in general.”
Of course, Rubin is the first president to be elected from the Casting Directors Branch, a branch that was only admitted to the Academy in 2013. So now that the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has voted this week to create a BAFTA award for casting, he’s got to be thinking about throwing his new clout behind the effort to create a casting Oscar, right?
“My focus honestly is on leading this Academy,” he said. “Of course I was thrilled to read about BAFTA’s recognition of casting directors, just as I am proud as a casting director that a member of our branch has been elected president of the Academy.”