The Academy responds to backlash over category controversy, open letter from De Niro, Emma Stone

PHOTO: Oscar statues are displayed at the 2007 "Meet the Oscars" presented by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Feb. 12, 2007, in New York City.PlayBryan Bedder/Getty Images
WATCH Hollywood erupts after Academy moves 4 awards from live broadcast

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is clarifying an earlier statement that it would hold four Oscar 2019 presentations during commercial breaks.

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The clarification came in response to an open letter Wednesday signed by more than 50 high-profile cinematographers, actors, producers and directors, including Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, Robert De Niro and Emma Stone, calling the decision "nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession."

In a statement obtained by Variety and Deadline, the Academy assured its membership that "no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others.”

The Academy blamed the confusion on "inaccurate reporting and social media posts," leading to "a chain of misinformation that has understandably upset many Academy members."

Academy officials now says that all 24 award categories will presented on stage in the Dolby Theatre, and included in the broadcast. Four of them, including cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, and live action short were volunteered to have their nominees and winners announced by presenters, and included later in the broadcast. The show plans to cut the walk to the stage to condense the overall show.

Moving forward, four to six categories each year will volunteer or be selected to have the same treatment.

The letter from the American Society of Cinematographers read, "The vocal response from our peers and the immediate backlash from industry leaders over the Academy’s decision makes it clear that it’s not too late to have this decision reversed" about what many thought was the cutting out of the speeches for those four categories mentioned above.

"The Academy was founded in 1927 to recognize and uphold excellence in the cinematic arts, inspire imagination and help connect the world through the universal medium of motion pictures." the letter continued. "Unfortunately, we have drifted from this mission in our pursuit of presenting entertainment rather than in presenting a celebration of our art form and the people behind it."

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