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Academy's new campaigning rules address Oscars song controversy

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New academy rules clarify how music branch members may campaign for their films
Oscars flap over song nominee leads to changes in Academy Awards rules

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rescinded an original song nomination for the independent, faith-based movie "Alone Yet Not Alone" this year, it sparked a controversy and questions of bias at the institution.

Now, the academy's board of governors has issued new rules to clarify how music branch members may campaign for their films.

According to the new rules, music branch members may not contact other music branch members to promote the nomination of their song in any way, including via email, mail, telephone or social media.

Music branch members are also barred from attending any special live performances of eligible songs unless the performances are attached to a screening.

The new rules seem to be a direct response to criticism that arose after the academy took the unprecedented move of revoking an original song nomination for "Alone Yet Not Alone" in January.

At the time, academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said that Bruce Broughton, a longtime head of the academy's music branch who wrote the music for the song in question, had emailed members of the branch during the voting period, creating "the appearance of an unfair advantage."

The action prompted criticism that the academy was punishing a small movie that didn't have the resources to compete with studios' big-budget Oscar campaigns. 

Broughton sent an email to about 70 of the branch's 239 members whose addresses, he said, came from his own Rolodex, not an academy data base.

"I'm sending this note only because it is extremely unlikely that this small, independent, faith-based film will be seen by any music branch member," Broughton said in the email. "It's the only way I can think of to have anyone be aware of the song."

In an interview with The Times in February, Isaacs called the decision to revoke the nomination "very difficult."

"We review our rules, and each year there has been something that we need to address, because the goal is to make it a level playing field as much as we can," Isaacs said.

The 87th Oscars will be held Feb. 22 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and will be televised on ABC.


Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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