Academy CEO Bill Kramer Talks Moving on from the Slap and Bringing Below the Line Categories Back to Oscars

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After an even more dramatic Oscars season than usual — with controversy over categories being excluded from the show and a shocking unplanned slap largely overshadowing the rest of the ceremony — newly appointed Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Bill Kramer wants to move forward.

“We want to move forward and have an Oscars that celebrates cinema,” Kramer said when asked during a conference call with multiple publications on Monday if there is a plan for next year’s Oscars to address the on-stage altercation between Chris Rock and Will Smith. “That’s our focus right now, it’s really about moving forward.”

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Kramer, who was appointed as CEO of the Academy last month, spoke to journalists from multiple publications on Monday to discuss his plans for the Academy going forward and the preliminary discussions the organization has had with ABC for the 2023 Oscars ceremony, which will be the award show’s 95th anniversary.

“It’s our 95th anniversary, we want to return to a show that has reverence for film and 95 years of the Oscars. It’s a moment to really reflect on our membership, all craft areas, our changing industry, our fans,” Kramer said. “There are ways to do that, that are entertaining and authentic, and that are tied to our mission to honor excellence in movie making.”

Aside from the Chris Rock and Will Smith incident, Kramer also addressed the other major controversy of this year’s Oscars by discussing the possibility of bringing categories like the shorts, editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design and sound back to the main ceremony. After Variety asked if the show would maintain the format of presenting the awards during the red carpet and incorporating taped bits from winner’s speeches into the telecast, Kramer said their have been discussions with ABC about how to incorporate the categories into the ceremony, but did not offer any details on how.

“We have been talking to ABC about all aspects of the show,” Kramer said. “We want to see all disciplines equitably acknowledged on the show, that is our goal. There are many ways to do that, and we’re working that through with ABC right now.”

For the past few years, the Oscars signed yearly contracts with different production teams for each show. During the call, Kramer confirmed that the Academy is in talks to develop a multi-year deal for the show, in a departure from the yearly strategy.

A day after the call, the Independent Spirit Awards formally announced that they would implement gender neutral acting categories into next year’s ceremony. When asked if the Oscars would consider changing their award categories down the line, Kramer made it clear that while the Oscars isn’t counting it out, but it won’t happen any time soon.

“We are conducting due diligence on that to see what that could look like, but there’s no plan right now to activate that,” Kramer said.

Next month, Kramer plans to speak at the Venice Film Festival, and confirmed that he would also be at Telluride Film Festival and other major festivals. According to Kramer, the decision to attend the international festivals came as a way to show his commitment to the international portion of the Academy, which makes up more than 25% of its membership, as well as to show support for the festivals as they return after COVID shut many of them down.

Kramer says: “It really does bring our international commitment and partnership to life.”

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