The Oscars telecast is always a magnet for controversy, be it hosts known for homophobic jokes or a ceremony plagued with sketchy pandemic safety measures. This year’s flap is over a more dramatic overhauling than ever before. It was recently revealed eight of the over two dozen trophies won’t actually be aired live. The pushback has been severe, but now it gets worse.
As per The Hollywood Reporter, Tom Fleischman — a longtime sound mixer who won an Oscar for Martin Scorsese’s Hugo a decade ago — has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over the show’s controversial plan. Indeed, had the plan been in effect when he won in 2012, audiences worldwide watching from home would not have seen it live. The two sound Oscars are among the trophies that will still be handed out during the ceremony, then aired later during the program.
Fleischman’s CV is immense, with over 200 credits stretching back to Errol Morris’ first feature-length documentary, Gates of Heaven, from 1978. Over the years, he’s worked with directors like Jonathan Demme, Brian De Palma, John Sayles, Spike Lee, Susan Seidelman, Noah Baumbach, Ron Howard, and more. On top of his Hugo win, he’s been nominated for four other Oscars, including Warren Beatty’s Reds, Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs, and two more with Scorsese: The Aviator and Gangs of New York. He’s also Hollywood royalty: His mother is Dede Allen, the legendary, game-changing film editor of Bonnie and Clyde, Dog Day Afternoon, and more.
The other Oscars being downgraded for the telecast are documentary short, film editing, makeup/hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, and live action short.
The Oscars broadcast has come under pressure, reportedly largely from ABC, who’s long aired it, to re-tool it in an attempt to improve ratings. Last year’s show saw a ratings nadir of only 10.4 million, down considerably from the show’s peak of 57.25 million in 1998, when Titanic — for a good while the highest grossing movie ever made, not adjusted for inflation — took home Best Picture, among other trophies. Whether viewers will tune in to see less, all while ABC and the Academy alienate its talent, is something we’ll learn on March 27, when the ceremony hits the airwaves.