Academy cracking down on pre-Oscar parties – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell It sounds like the Academy police want to pull over Hollywood’s gravy train during the awards season … or, at the very least, get it to slow down and obey some new speed limits.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is contemplating new restrictions on expensive pre-awards festivities aimed at Oscar voters. An insider tells THR that there will be “a tightening of the rules, no question” following a lavish season that saw fancy events held in honor of multiple films locked in a heated Oscar race last year.

“The complaints from members were up this year,” an Adademy source tells the trade. “It was looking like vote-buying, and nobody wants that.”

Certain studios found ways around the restrictions, as when Sony held a launch party for David Fincher’s “The Social Network” on DVD but (wisely) used it as an opportunity to lobby the film’s Oscar chances. Then there was the soiree Julia Roberts sponsored on behalf of Javier Bardem’s performance in “Biutiful” … which worked, as the actor landed a well-deserved nomination.

THR says it’s unclear at this point what restrictions will be put into place, and notes that the board of governors could vote on a proposal at its Aug. 2 meeting.

But the goal, according to the trade’s source, would be to “limit the number and kind of functions thrown in connection with a specific film (not including screenings), to lessen the impression that voters are being constantly lobbied.”

And yet, with the new rule eliminating a guaranteed 10 Best Picture nominees, one would think that studios will have to lobby Oscar voters even harder to ensure that their selected pictures get into the coveted Best Picture race. With the Oscars becoming more selective about which film they let in, and the Academy becoming more strict about how studios lobby the gatekeepers, this year’s Oscar race grows more interesting by the moment.

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