"Trust me. It won't change," new Oscars chief Tom Sherak tells Gold Derby, dismissing speculation that the ceremony will kick out the less-glam awards to make room for more entertainment segments. "I don't think you'll ever see the awards cut on Academy Awards night. Every one of those categories, to this organization, is very important. It makes up who we are."
To listen to the audio recording of our chat, click on the player below. You can download the MP3 file by clicking here.
Upon assuming the presidency of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Sherak displays refreshing candor in addition to firm views. One of the juiciest parts of our chat was his tattle on how the academy decided to expand the number of best-picture nominees to 10 next year. It's been widely rumored that the idea was the brainchild of Bill Condon and Larry Mark, who produced the last Oscarcast, but now Sherak gives them full credit on the record.
Condon and Mark pitched the idea to an academy committee, headed by Sherak, that critiques the ceremony every year after the fact. When they finished analyzing its pros and cons, they both addressed the group solemnly, Sherak recalls. "They said, 'We have something we'd like to suggest, which is very radical, but we think it should be done.' I asked, 'What is that?' and they said, 'We think you should raise the number of best-picture nominees from five to 10, and, if 10's too many, then maybe eight, but it should definitely go higher than five.'
"Everybody looked at each other" with astonishment, Sherak adds. "Our executive director Bruce Davis said, 'You know, the academy's done that before.' We all looked at each other and said, 'They did?' He said, 'Yes, for 10 years they did that' and if you look at the movies nominated in 1939, any one of them could've won best picture.' "
After the powwow with Condon and Mark, Sherak says, "We had another committee meeting, and we vetted their idea. We all thought it was a good idea. We presented it to the board, and the full board agreed that we should try it."
If the expansion of the category is determined to be successful next year, will the Oscars expand other races too?
"I don't see that happening," Sherak adds. "That came up during the vetting process."
But clearly he's open to other radical changes and ideas as he takes on one of the toughest jobs in Tinsel Town.