Columns » Kenneth Cleaver

Kenneth Cleaver

Consumer Correspondent

Kenneth H. Cleaver

P.O. Box 810

Bedford, NY 10506

December 13, 2002

Mr. John Pavlik

Director of Communications

Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences

8949 Wilshire Boulevard

Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972

Dear Mr. Pavlik:

To thank the little people has long been a reflexive critique of Hollywood vanity.

Unfortunately these days, certain big people are being mistaken for little people. I speak of the marketing consiglieris that toil into the night on studio-funded campaigns to win Academy Awards. These professionals oversee crafty, targeted mailings and place countless ads in print, television and radio, all to reach an audience of just over 5,000 Academy voters.

How is it that the Academy will honor a bunch of gear heads (what the heck's a sound editor anyway?) but not the powerbrokers who steer the voting toward a desired outcome?

Why is there not an Academy Award for Best Academy Award Campaign?

Such an award could take into account not merely the millions spent on influencing the vote, but the stunts performed: celebrity promotional screenings, visits to Hollywood old-timers' homes, and the like. There could even be subcategories for best promotional trinket, or a moxie award for the most dreadful film a studio asks the Academy to consider (assuming it's not already nominated).

While the prospect of repeated Harvey Weinstein victory speeches is as gruesome as we can imagine, could it be more ghastly than the typical musical number? To continue to ignore studio lobbyists is to perpetuate the myth that the awards are merit-based. While I can suspend my disbelief for Hobbits, Will Smith as a threatening African-American athlete, and the profundity of Ron Howard, I can't do the same for the Oscars. An award for lobbyists might help.


Kenneth H. Cleaver

click here to read Mr.Pavlik's response

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