Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? Charles Aidikoff Screening Room Shutters: End of an Era for LA Critics? How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans How HBO's 'Ballers' Fails Sports Fans Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Michael Moore Reveals Stealth NSA Project 'Where to Invade Next' on Periscope Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Top 10 Takeaways: Holdover 'Ant-Man' Tops Blah Week, Summer Slot for 'Southpaw' Pays Off Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Oscar Hell Week: Play By Play

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 12, 2011 at 6:27PM

Exactly how did all the changes go down at the Oscars last week? Well, Academy president Tom Sherak gives us the play by play.
0
AMPAS president Tom Sherak
AMPAS president Tom Sherak

Exactly how did all the changes go down at the Oscars last week? Well, Academy president Tom Sherak gives us the play by play.

Last Sunday morning, Brett Ratner called Sherak to tell him "I messed up. I did something, made a remark, I didn't mean anything by it. But it's going to come back and haunt me." Ratner had said "rehearsals are for fags" at a Friday night "Tower Heist" screening Q and A. Sherak immediately gave him public relations 101: "Write an apology." Ratner emailed Sherak his statement, Sherak read it, approved it, and told the director to have his people get it out.

Sherak also told the filmmaker that what he said was terrible, insensitive, reckless and dumb, but he knew him, and believed that he made a mistake, and that his apology was sincere. "But you can't do this again," he warned Ratner, who replied, "I got it."

Ratner's statement: “I apologize for any offense my remarks caused. It was a dumb and outdated way of expressing myself. Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body. But as a storyteller I should have been much more thoughtful about the power of language and my choice of words.”

On the same Monday that Sherak released his own statement of support for the filmmaker, a friend emailed him to tell him some of the colorful things Ratner had said on that day's Howard Stern Show. "You're kidding, right?" said Sherak. He wasn't. Sherak went home that night and turned on the show. He was appalled.

Tuesday morning an Academy officers meeting had already been scheduled, with the Oscar show on the agenda. Ratner called during the meeting and said, "Tom, I screwed up, I know, I want to resign, I know I made a mistake."

After Sherak accepted Ratner's resignation, the calls started pouring in from people offering to help. One of the people who called was "Tower Heist" and "J.Edgar" producer Brian Grazer. "What do you need me to do?" he asked. The Academy had approached Grazer before, but he had always been too busy to serve. "You have to give up five months to do this show," Sherak says. This time, Grazer was eager to do it. (The way he tells the story, Sherak called him.) "Will you produce with Don?" Sherak asked. Grazer said, "Yes."

Sherak knew immediately that host Eddie Murphy would ask to be let go. "He signed on because of Brett," says Sherak. "Once a host doesn't want to do it, you can't go back. Doing it as quickly as he did helped Don and Brian."

The three men, Sherak, Grazer and Mischer met at 4 PM Tuesday and agreed to go to Billy Crystal. "If he wants to do it, fine, I'm in," said Sherak. "There was never any chaos." And Ratner's team of writers? "We're working on that."

This article is related to: Awards, Awards, Oscars


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.