Hollywood crews union blasts decision to cut behind-the-scenes crafts from Oscars broadcast

Two women in black dresses stand onstage at a microphone as other people stand nearby.
Nancy Haigh, left, and Barbara Ling, accept the Oscar for production design for “Little Women” during the telecast of the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9, 2020, at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. This year the craft has been excluded from the live awards show.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents about 160,000 behind-the-scenes workers in the entertainment industry, has weighed in on the backlash against the motion picture academy’s move to cut eight categories from the Oscars broadcast.

IATSE President Matthew Loeb urged the awards show to reverse its plan to no longer have these awards categories — which include film editing, makeup and hairstyling and production design — as part of the live show, a move he suggested further reinforced the poor treatment of crew in Hollywood.

“Behind the scenes, workers get little recognition as is, despite being the backbone of every production,” Loeb said in a statement Monday. “The awards should put all the positions that make pictures possible on equal footing. If the winners walk away with the same trophy, then the winners deserve the same recognition. I urge the Academy to reconsider.”


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and awards show producer Will Packer decided this year to cede to pressure from dwindling broadcast ratings and cut eight awards from the live show.

While 23 categories will be given out live on air, five below-the-line awards and the three short film Oscars will be given out before the telecast begins, with clips of the presentations and acceptance speeches edited into the broadcast.

The move caused upset among the different crafts months after the union threatened a historic walkout over working conditions.

Loeb and IATSE’s opposition helped reverse a similar decision to change the show in 2019.

Then, a plan to give out four awards — cinematography, editing, live-action short and makeup and hairstyling — during commercial breaks in that year’s show triggered a bitter protest from members who saw it as a slight to some of film’s most vital crafts. Just days before the ceremony, the academy reversed the decision.

Earlier this month, more than 70 prominent industry figures — including Oscar winners James Cameron, Kathleen Kennedy, John Williams and Guillermo del Toro — urged the academy in an open letter to reverse the controversial plan, which they said would relegate some nominees to “the status of second-class citizens.”