FIRST OFF . . .
Seventeen prominent actors and film makers have sent a letter to Richard Kahn, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, complaining that this year’s Oscar show “was an embarrassment to both the academy and the entire motion picture industry.” Those signing the letter were: Julie Andrews, David Brown, Stanley Donen, Blake Edwards, John Foreman, William Friedkin, Larry Gelbart, Sidney Lumet, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Paul Newman, Alan J. Pakula, Gregory Peck, Martin Ritt, Mark Rydell, Peter Stone, Billy Wilder and Fred Zinneman. The academy recently apologized to the Walt Disney Co. for the unauthorized use of the studio’s Snow White character in the show’s opening dance routine. The March 29 show was produced by Allan Carr, who could not be reached for comment. “It is neither fitting nor acceptable that the best work in motion pictures be acknowledged in such a demeaning fashion,” the group wrote in a letter sent to Kahn at his Beverly Hills home. “Certainly these Academy members are entitled to their opinions,” Kahn said Wednesday. “But I disagree with the content of that letter.” Kahn said other reaction to the show was polarized, but noted that this year’s Oscarcast received the highest TV ratings in five years.