Last Wednesday, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the people behind the Oscars) rescinded their nomination for Best Song contender “Alone Yet Not Alone,” after it was discovered the composer (an AMPAS executive) may have exerted undue influence lobbying for his song. While providing a detailed explanation in its press release at the time, song composer Bruce Broughton responded, saying he felt his actions were innocent. As he told Variety, “I indulged in the simplest, lamest, grass-roots campaign and it went against me when the song started getting attention. I got taken down by competition that had months of promotion and advertising behind them.” There’s also the specter that some might feel suspicious the song was axed for being from the often maligned ‘faith based’ genre.
This may all be a tempest in a teapot, or a legitimate concern over transparency and determination to not just be fair, but to be perceived as fair. Or, it may be an attempt to publicly respond to Broughton’s public statements, which belie a lack of contrition. Whatever the motivation, the Academy followed up their initial announcement with another press release, yesterday, providing quite a few new details on what has transpired.
The Academy’s release, in it’s entirety:
The Board of Governors’ decision to rescind the Original Song nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” music by Bruce Broughton, was made thoughtfully and after careful consideration. The Academy takes very seriously anything that undermines the integrity of the Oscars® voting process. The Board regretfully concluded that Mr. Broughton’s actions did precisely that.
The nominating process for Original Song is intended to be anonymous, with each eligible song listed only by title and the name of the film in which it is used–the idea being to prevent favoritism and promote unbiased voting. It’s been a long-standing policy and practice of the Academy–as well as a requirement of Rule 5.3 of the 86th Academy Awards® Rules–to omit composer and lyricist credits from the DVD of eligible songs that are sent to members of the Music Branch. The Academy wants members to vote for nominees based solely on the achievement of a particular song in a movie, without regard to who may have written it.
Mr. Broughton sent an email to at least 70 of his fellow Music Branch members–nearly one-third of the branch’s 240 members. When he identified the song as track #57 as one he had composed, and asked voting branch members to listen to it, he took advantage of information that few other potential nominees are privy to. As a former Academy Governor and current member of the Music Branch’s executive committee, Mr. Broughton should have been more cautious about acting in a way that made it appear as if he were taking advantage of his position to exert undue influence. At a minimum, his actions called into question whether the process was “fair and equitable,” as the Academy’s rules require. The Academy is dedicated to doing everything it can to ensure a level playing field for all potential Oscar® contenders–including those who don’t enjoy the access, knowledge, and influence of a long-standing Academy insider.
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