On Sunday night, the Academy Awards will allow all winners to make a political speech — if they choose to do so — of between 45 seconds and one minute in length.
“As long as it’s in good taste, we’re happy to let these citizens speak their minds. Obviously our government doesn’t care about what they say, or else we wouldn’t be going to war,” says a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in New York.
Over the past several months, other awards shows have attempted to clamp down on the overtly political speechifying of recipients. But producers for the Academy Awards, as well as executives of the ABC television network (owned by Disney), which will carry the show, have made the decision to let Oscar winners and presenters speak their mind before a world audience that will be watching.
“I’m sure the Bush people and right-wingers like Limbaugh will make a big deal about this, and will probably try to make money off of this, but we’re citizens too,” says the screenwriter. “We have a right to say what we believe and we have a forum to make a difference. Other Americans aren’t so lucky, so we won’t waste it.”
Similar comments about conservatives making money off of left-wing proselytizing were made by former President Bill Clinton two weeks ago, when he claimed broadcaster Rush Limbaugh would fundraise off of Clinton’s appearances on “60 Minutes.” Limbaugh does not participate in political fundraising.
Further to ensuring an all-anti-war, all-the-time event, Oscar producers and parent ABC are said by insiders to be devising a seating chart that would prevent “pro-war” celebrities from gaining a forum. Hawkish celebrities like Bruce Willis, James Woods, Arnold Schwarzenegger and others are not scheduled to serve as presenters.
Meanwhile, Academy producers have made of point of inviting chronic protester Susan Sarandon to serve as a presenter.