Tom Sherak bids the Academy farewell

Tomorrow night the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will vote through a new president as Tom Sherak takes his leave after three years on the perch. The presumed favorite for the spot is producer Howard “Hawk” Koch, though Phil Alden Robinson and Gale Anne Hurd are strong possibilities, too. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, here is Sherak’s farewell to the membership:

Dear Academy Members,

I am writing to you as I approach the end of my final term as president of our Academy – a position that I have been honored to hold for three years.

I remember how excited I was when I wrote to you back in 2009, as I neared the end of my first 100 days in office. Now I am humbled – humbled by what we have accomplished, by all that we represent, and by everything that we are.

To much of the world, we are the arbiters of excellence in motion pictures. We are also the guardians of their history, a voice that gives direction and shape to their future, and a global resource for anyone with a passion for movies.

This passion is at the heart of the Academy and of everything that we do – not only our Awards show and our year-round educational and outreach efforts, but also our day-to-day activities. The Academy is an organization that I have been proud to belong to since 1985, but for the last three years it has also been a place where I go to work. This has allowed me to see that passion in our staff members, every day, whether they have been with us for just a few months or for 35 years.

My own love of movies and of our Academy runs deep. Both have been so good to me, my family and our community. I hope that with the last three years, I have given something back.

I often say that being the president of the Academy is the best nonpaying job in Hollywood. But not being paid doesn”t mean that I haven”t been rewarded. The trust and friendship of our members and staff have only deepened my love for the Academy. I have always tried to support and protect our wonderful organization, as I hope you will, too – just as I hope you will always seek out opportunities to get involved. Because there are many. And because you will always get more out of it than you put in.

I leave office confident that the future of our Academy (and of our industry) is bright. Yes, challenges await us – and as leaders in the global film community, we have anticipated and begun to address a number of them. Others are much further ahead; we cannot predict them any more than the first silent film exhibitors could have predicted digital IMAX 3D. But wherever the industry and the art of moviemaking go, the Academy will be there. Our home is secure, our financial house is in order, and we are making the necessary changes that will help the Academy become the more modern, nimble and responsive organization that the future demands it to be – all while maintaining the mission and the high standards that have always defined us.

This is some of what I tried to accomplish in my time as our 31st president. And as I prepare to step away from the helm of our Academy, I keep thinking of a few lines sung by one of my heroes, Frank Sinatra: “I”ve lived a life that”s full…I traveled each and ev”ry highway…And more, much more than this, I did it my way.”

(I”m sure that some of you are thinking of a different part of the song, when Frank sings, “Yes, there were times, I”m sure you knew…When I bit off more than I could chew…” But this is my farewell letter.)

Of course, the truth is that I did not just do it my way. I did it our way: making the advancement of our mission part of every undertaking. This principle helped me stay focused during my tenure, as I know it will help the next president and the many who follow, into perpetuity. By remaining faithful to this idea, we can be as excited about our future as we are proud of our past. Thank you for giving me the privilege of looking after our Academy for three of the most meaningful years of my career.


Tom Sherak