Oscar Scandals 2020: Michael Shamberg, Oscar Nominee, Vs. the Academy–in Court

The Hollywood Reporter:

Michael Shamberg, the Oscar-nominated producer of The Big Chill and Erin Brokovich, filed a civil action in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday alleging that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — of which he has been a member since 1981 — violated its bylaws by failing to vote on a proposal that he made before its board of governors — of which he is not a member — earlier this year.

Shamberg’s pitch called for overhauling the organization’s social media approach, which he finds to be terribly lacking.

Dispute in court in the middle of a global pandemic?

“Yes, it’s not as important as finding a vaccine — and remember, I produced Contagion,” Shamberg told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s not as important as Black Lives Matter. But I had no choice. It’s like trying to get a good movie made — you don’t give up when you have a good idea if you’re a producer. I just felt, ‘All right, I’ll give the issue some prominence and file a suit,’ which didn’t cost me very much money, ‘and see what their official response is.'”

Shamberg has been highly critical of the organization’s social media strategy for approximately two years, but his concerns first became public back in April, when he complained that the Academy had “launched no initiatives to talk about critical industry issues since Covid-19 erupted,” calling the organization “an epic fail as a 21st century social media institution” and suggesting that its ineffective use of social media was responsible for the plummeting ratings of the Oscars telecast, which is the Academy’s primary revenue.

“The Academy’s social media is anodyne, stiff and institutional,” he alleged at the time. “Most Academy Tweets don’t even get a thousand likes. … Tom Hanks talked about recovering from the virus on SNL, not on AMPAS. The Academy never goes live on Instagram or does live AMAs. The younger audience and their families are on TikTok but the Academy has never once posted on TikTok. Academy posts never go viral.”