Oscar diversity campaign may take time but Chris Rock will still host
By Steve Gorman and Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Oscars have launched a landmark campaign to diversify the ranks of Academy Award voters who decide which actors, movies and filmmakers earn recognition, but Hollywood's highest honors may remain a predominantly white affair for some time to come.
Amid an outcry against a field of Oscar-nominated performers lacking a single person of color for a second straight year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a sweeping affirmative action program on Friday, pledging to double female and minority membership by 2020.
But host Chris Rock will not step away from the high-profile job, the show's producer Reginald Hudlin said on Saturday, telling Entertainment Tonight at an NAACP Image Awards luncheon the comedian has scrapped his material.
"As things got a little provocative and exciting, he said, 'I'm throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show,'" Hudlin told ET.
"You should expect [#OscarsSoWhite jokes]," Hudlin said, adding "And, yes, the Academy is ready for him to do that."
The largely white, male and older makeup of the 6,000-plus film industry professionals who belong to the academy has long been cited as a barrier to racial and gender equality at the Oscars.
"It's unprecedented for the academy to make this kind of drastic overhaul," said Tom O'Neil, editor of the awards-tracking website Gold Derby. "It's a very dramatic announcement and a very welcome breakthrough."
The changes, unanimously approved on Thursday night by the academy's governing board, include a program to "identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity," and to strip some older members of voting privileges. Continued...