It’s Oscar week and that means Vanity Fair parties, Russell Simmons’ All Def Movie Awards and numerous corporate and agency sponsored luncheons and receptions – culminating with the 88th Academy Awards this Sunday. For the last couple of weeks much of the talk surrounding the Oscars hasn’t been around which movie will win best movie, but instead about the lack of minority representation in the top four category nominations. The media has made sure we knew who was boycotting the telecast and giving us their thoughts on what Chris Rock, the host of this year’s Academy Awards, should say on the topic.
Throughout these discussions the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has received a lot of flak. The Academy responded by changing their membership and voting policies. And many industry insiders have moved the discussion and blame from the Academy to the movie studios. Question. Are the movie studios to blame? If their goal is to make as much money as they can from each movie release by mitigating risk and taking what they consider safe bets – franchise films, sequels and remakes – are they to blame for a lack of diversity in Hollywood? Well, I am a commercial real estate appraiser so I can’t say with a fact that they are to blame. But, I do believe that real change in what the major studios produce likely won’t happen until the movie industry experiences a major downturn. As we saw with network television, low ratings led to the networks being more adventurous with their programming. And the result, was more diverse shows that better reflected the viewing audience.