The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is going virtual , at least that seems to be the message in an email sent to the entire AMPAS membership Friday night from President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.
The measures have actually been taking place since Wednesday, including all scheduled screenings for membership in New York which had been cancelled until further notice. The same was not necessary for Los Angeles which was not set to resume regular screenings for members until April. As just about every other studio, agency, production company – you name it – AMPAS is emphasizing they are following guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) and asking staffers to try and work from home and are encouraging all members to avoid visiting any AMPAS facility including NY, London , and buildings in Los Angeles that would include Hollywood and Beverly Hills. All in person meetings have now moved to conference calls or Zoom video conference according to the Academy message to membership. Also , as is the case elsewhere, all non-essential travel, tours, public screenings and events have been cancelled for at least the rest of March. For various committee meetings, the AMPAS branch says liaisons will be in touch to set up virtual meeting dates for the time being.
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Several members of Academy leadership , staff , and Board of Governors recently returned from France where AMPAS hosted some activities including Oscar Animation Day at Xilam Paris moderated by Board member and recent How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Oscar nominated producer Bonnie Arnold. That happened on March 2nd , but with all the restrictions imposed since about gatherings of over 100 people in that country it looks like they just got it in just under the wire. And in retrospect it also looks like making the recent 92nd Academy Awards the earliest ever on Sunday February 9th (just a month ago, but it seems like a lot longer ) was a fortunate move considering all the cancellations since then.
Meanwhile the Television Academy has been sending members (of which I am one , and formerly a Board member) updates on how the emerging FYC season of panels and events is going to proceed. As announced this week they have not minced words about plans for the entire nominating season and have changed the format of ALL FYC events to exclude any in person audience participation or attendance , but instead will be making panels available only via streaming and other forms of delivery through the end date of campaign season on June 14 (voting opens the next day for nominations). This is a major change as most of those events , which the TV Academy does not officially endorse or sponsor on their own, include receptions with lots of networking and food provided by networks and studios to gain attention from voters. It has been a social must for many TV Academy members. Not this year, folks. This is yet another major change from past years, as the TV Academy had already announced that physical DVD screeners are forbidden and only streaming shows of possible contenders would be allowed starting with the 2020 awards which take place over three evenings , Sept 12 and 12 for Creative Arts Emmys and Sept 20 for the Primetime Emmys. Nominations will be announced on July 14. Earlier today the National TV Academy announced the Sports , as well as Technical Emmys would be postponed until a further date.
The times they are a changin’ , folks.