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FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 26, 2018

More than movies are in focus at Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday night

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During the Academy Awards show, Hollywood's annual celebration next Sunday night, hosts hope to hear more applause than anger. Film industry leaders want "to keep the focus on the show and on the great work of this year," says a statement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a 6,000-member group of actors, directors, producers and other move-makers. Still, the global telecast – hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel on ABC for a second straight year -- is sure to have references to the #MeToo movement against workplace harassment.

Some presenters, nominees and guests will wear "Time's Up" lapel pins to support that campaign, which began last October with journalists' revelations about decades of abuses by former studio head Harvey Weinstein. During red carpet interviews outside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, some stars are likely to mention a Time's Up legal defense fund, which has raised about $21 million to help women suing employers or individuals.

There also are signs of change in an industry that was widely mocked in 2015 and 2016 with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite because all best actor and best actress nominees were white. An ambitious membership overhaul diversified the voting body by race, gender, geography and age. Nominees for Oscar statues this time reflect a new era:

  • Jordan Peele is the first African-American nominated for directing, writing and best picture in the same year (all for "Get Out.")
  • Dee Rees is the first African-American woman to be nominated for an adapted screenplay award ("Mudbound.")
In addition, first-time director Greta Gerwig ("Lady Bird") is nominated as just the fifth woman with a shot at being named best director. And Rachel Morrison is became the first woman nominated for cinematography ("Mudbound").

Journalist says: "The class of nominees for this year's 90th Academy Awards feels like a breath of fresh air." – Sara Vilkomerson, Entertainment Weekly writer

Film reviewer says: "It's shaping up as the most exciting and competitive Oscar night in years . . . [with choices] that reflect the startling changes happening in the world we live in." – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Network executive says: "We certainly want to honor and respect Time's Up and allow that message to be heard. But we're trying to make it more planned than spur of the moment. . . . I would love for every award recipient to not feel like they have to acknowledge it independently." -- Channing Dungey, ABC entertainment division president

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2018
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