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Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 15:50 GMT
The Academy's main man
The BBC's Peter Bowes talks to the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Robert Rehme, in Hollywood.
In the run up to the Oscars Hollywood is awash with awards shows. The actors, directors, critics - even publicists - all gather to hand out glittering prizes to one section or another of the movie-making world.
Some events are credited with more prestige than others. In January the Golden Globe Awards set the scene - dished out by a relatively small group of foreign press correspondents, the awards are viewed as the best early indicator of who is likely to win what on Oscars night.
Then, in the period between the Oscar nominations being announced in February and the prizes being handed out late in March, the Screen Actors and Directors Guild organisations have their say.
The President of the Motion Picture Academy, Robert Rehme, says he is concerned that so much attention is paid to such events.
"I have always kind of looked at the other awards as the mere build up to the Oscars. I don't blame other organisations for doing these things - but it is getting to be a bit much though," he says.
Rehme explains that he is particularly concerned that so many awards ceremonies are shown on television.
"The public has to get their fill of awards shows - at some point, how many awards shows do you want to watch?" he asks.
Despite the proliferation of such back-slapping events, Rehme says he believes the public still has an appetite for the Academy Awards.
"I think movie fans have always cared. Worldwide, people pay attention to the Oscars - they know it's the ultimate recognition that an artist receives."
He explains: "It'll be something they treasure for the rest of their lives."
As a high profile event which attracts media coverage around the world, the stakes are high at the Oscars.
A win can catapult an actor or actress onto Hollywood's 'A' list of stars. Their price tag would also increase accordingly.
To the glee of the studios, a successful movie usually sees its box office take soar within days of the ceremony.
It therefore comes as no surprise these days, that in the run up to the event, Academy voters are bombarded with advertising by the studios with a film in contention.
It's a practice with which the Academy isn't entirely comfortable. Rehme says: "We wish there would be more discretion - and not quite as much adverting."
But, he acknowledges, "It makes people see movies. If it raises the awareness of movies in the eyes of the public and if the members of the Academy - some 5600 voting members see these movies, I think that's good."
Rehme strongly rejects any suggestion that the votes of Academy members can be influenced through advertising.
"I really don't think it impacts the voting. It has zero impact. However, I do think it perhaps is over done. There's nothing the Academy can do about it.
"We can't tell people how to market their pictures and these advertising campaigns are often tied to the release of the picture," he says.
As well as standing up for the organisation's impartiality, Rehme also defends the Academy against suggestions that some members may try to turn their Oscars ceremony seats into hard cash.
A web site recently offered for sale two tickets to the star-studded event - although the threat of legal action has forced with withdrawal of the offer.
Rehme says: "Nobody has tickets - not even the President of the Academy."
But, he adds: "This web site evidently had some contact with a middle man and a broker of some kind who must have theoretically had a contact with somebody who was perhaps going to sell them tickets."
Rehme acknowledges that amongst the Academy's 6,000 members there may be someone prepared to break the rules. "It's possible somebody might do that - but this is a private affair," he says.
"It's meant for the members and our private guests. We don't sell tickets to the Oscars to the public."
He added that the organisation was attempting to root out anyone with a plan to abuse their privileged position.
This year's ceremony will go ahead amid the usual tight security. Unlike last year, during the run up to the event, the Oscars statues are safely under lock and key.
Rehme says he's also happy that the Academy has taken adequate precautions to guard celebrities on the big night - even actor Russell Crowe who is receiving FBI protection at the moment.
"We're very vigilant," he explains. "I would think that Russell Crowe is not going to be kidnapped from the Oscars - even though somebody did steal some Oscars one time - it's highly unlikely they'll steal Russell Crowe," he jokes.
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