In a statement released Thursday, United Talent Agency called on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to reconsider its plan to present four Academy Awards during commercial breaks at the 91st Oscars on February 24.
“Cinematographers, film editors, hair/makeup artists and short-form filmmakers– these artists make essential contributions to the power of movies. Their work should be celebrated live at the Oscars. The Academy should reconsider their decision,” read the agency’s statement on Twitter.
The Academy announced earlier this month the the Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup/Hairstyling, and Live Action Short Oscars will be presented during commercial breaks and then shown in edited form during the broadcast.
The plan is intended to keep the length of the ceremony to under three hours, but it met with swift backlash from across Hollywood. The American Society of Cinematographers and other guilds condemned the move, as did a group of major filmmakers in an open letter sent to the Academy Wednesday night. Among those who have signed the letters are Steven Spielberg and Alfonso Cuaron, the latter of whom is a favorite to win Best Cinematography for his work on Best Picture nominee “Roma.”
The Academy responded to the complaints with a statement posted on Wednesday, saying that each of the categories’ nominees will be aired, along with the winners’ speeches. The Academy will also be livestreaming during commercial breaks so that the four categories can be seen presented live online.
But the ASC called the Academy’s clarification “unsatisfying,” particularly a portion in which the Academy promised that “no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners any less than others.”
“The act of handing out certain awards during commercial breaks and then, at your discretion, airing this content, is most certainly depicting these categories in a lesser light than those being honored live in the spotlight on the main stage,” read ASC’s response.
The backlash to the commercial break presentations has prompted the hashtag #PresentAll24, referring to the Oscars’ 24 categories. The hashtag was included on UTA’s statement on social media.