‘Don’t Look Up’ Editor Hank Corwin Responds to Oscar Cuts: ‘As Usual, Artists Get Kicked Around’

Despite James Cameron, Jane Campion and Guillermo Del Toro speaking out against the Academy’s decision to pre-record eight of the craft categories, their plea to reconsider is falling on deaf ears.

With the 94th Academy Awards less than two weeks away, artisans impacted by the decision are still feeling like second-class citizens. The news was delivered to the nominees via a Zoom town hall that Academy Award nominated editor Hank Corwin (“Don’t Look Up”) happened to miss. “I thought they were going to tell us to keep speeches short,” says Corwin.

That wasn’t the case.

The Academy announced on Feb. 22 that several major categories would not be presented live on-air in order to deliver a more streamlined and television-friendly experience. Documentary shorts, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live-action short and sound are among the awards being handed out beforehand and edited into the broadcast. Outgoing CEO Dawn Hudson has said the decision was made by the show’s producers, Academy officers and the awards committee.

The Academy’s decision comes in an attempt to bolster ratings for the Oscars, which drew 10.4 million viewers last year. This year, Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer have been tapped to host after three years without one.

The reformatted show is designed to allow more time for comedy, film clips and musical numbers. This year’s producer, Will Packer, spoke with Variety earlier this month and said, “You have to think about this as an entertainment property.”

Corwin responds, “I get the fact that the Academy is caught between a rock and a hard place. They need a lot of income to survive in their present incarnation.” Corwin acknowledges that while their hearts are in the right place, the Academy’s mission is to support all films, equally, and they are being put in a vise by ABC.

Says Corwin, “They’ve gotten themselves into this terrible situation where you have executives from a network, I suspect, going over the ratings from last year’s Academy Awards, which were apparently abominable.”

Corwin hopes that somewhere along the line, the show segues into something that is not linear TV. He says the honor of being nominated is still very much a mind-blowing moment but emphasizes that most of the crafts impacted are behind the scenes. “Hair and makeup can’t defend themselves. They do the best they can. They work like hell and they’re artists,” Corwin says. “And as usual in this world, artists get kicked around. That’s what happened.”

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