September 7, 2018: Oscars Scrap New Popular Film Category, Major U.S. Hotels to Give Workers Panic Buttons to Protect Against Sexual Harassment, TIFF Inclusion Efforts Extend to Journalists

By Ian Zelaya September 7, 2018, 9:07 AM EDT

1. OSCARS SCRAP NEW POPULAR FILM CATEGORY: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has postponed the new Oscar category for “popular” film, which was slated to be introduced at the 91st ceremony on February 24. The Hollywood Reporter: “The Academy announced Thursday, following a meeting of the board of governors on Tuesday, that it is shelving the idea for the moment and will not launch the proposed new award at the next Oscar show, but it said it will continue to discuss the idea for the new award and ‘will examine and seek additional input regarding the new category.’ The announcement explained that implementing the new award nine months into the year ‘created challenges for films that have already been released.’ The Academy did not provide any timeline for when further details about the new award might be decided. ‘There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members,’ Academy C.E.O. Dawn Hudson said Thursday. ‘We have made changes to the Oscars over the years—including this year—and we will continue to evolve while also respecting the incredible legacy of the last 90 years.’ Last month, the Academy’s board of governors voted to create the new award, which it said would recognize ‘outstanding achievement in popular film.’ But it did not lay out the criteria or voting process that would be used to determine which films would be eligible and how they would be selected. With award season currently taking shape as dozens of Oscar hopefuls are introduced at festivals in Venice, Telluride, and Toronto, which kicks off its fest Thursday, numerous questions were raised about the proposed award. With studios and distributors drawing up plans for the coming award season, the Academy was under pressure to set up rules regarding the new category.”

2. MAJOR U.S. HOTELS TO GIVE WORKERS PANIC BUTTONS TO PROTECT AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT: In an effort to combat sexual harassment in the hotel industry, major hotel chains in partnership with the American Hotel and Lodging Association will equip workers with portable panic buttons. CNBC: “The portable safety device helps employees alert security personnel if they feel they are in danger or a compromising position. Harassment of hotel workers—specifically housekeepers—has been a longstanding issue the industry has had a difficult time addressing. The #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns reignited the conversation around harassment inside hotel rooms and has forced industry leaders to find a more comprehensive solution. The panic button will be rolled out nationwide by Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, among other hotel operators. A number of cities including Chicago and Seattle have already deployed the panic button and have gone so far as to require hotels to provide their staff with the device due to ongoing complaints of harassment, ranging from guest nudity, groping, touching, and forced contact. ... Unite Here, a labor union, which represents the rights of hospitality employees across the nation, has played a notable role in pushing hotels to adopt the panic button to better protect its workers. Unite Here says more than 50 percent of hotel housekeepers in Seattle have endured some type of sexual harassment. U.S. hotels are aiming to implement the panic button at all properties by 2020. Given the different size and layouts of each hotel, the American Hotel and Lodging Association has organized a special task force to help hotels figure out the best technology and device to deploy."

3. TIFF INCLUSION EFFORTS EXTEND TO JOURNALISTS: The Toronto International Film Festival, which kicked off Thursday, is not only trying to be more inclusive with its film selections—festival organizers have also expanded its group of credentialed media covering the event by nearly 20 percent by adding critics and reporters from under-represented groups in an effort to diversify coverage. Vanity Fair: “According to TIFF’s co-head of the festival, Cameron Bailey, the move was prompted by the recent debates over critical representation. According to U.S.C.’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which studied 'reviews of the 100 top-grossing films of 2017 posted on the site Rotten Tomatoes,' white male critics wrote 63.9 percent more than their white female (18.1 percent) or under-represented male (13.8 percent) counterparts. Under-represented female critics wrote only 4.1 percent of those sampled. And often those initial critical reviews are what set the fate for a film’s future, especially films like Asante’s that are looking for theatrical distribution. 'We’re seeing real debates rise up about who’s covering films at festivals, how the reactions at those initial screenings [are] so prominent online now, and how it’s not always the same debates when the films go to general audiences,' said Bailey. 'We thought, ”How can we bring those things together so that the debate that’s happening when a film is first released is actually reflective of how audiences as a whole might respond to it?” And to do that, you’ve got to diversify your journalist pool.' Bailey’s inclusion efforts extend beyond his critical ones. It’s also the second year of the Share Her Journey program, a fund-raising campaign started at the 2017 festival to raise money to improve gender equity in the film business. The program has raised $1.5 million thus far, with an eye on generating twice that amount to encourage more women to enter the business. The fest has also taken steps to achieve gender parity with its filmmakers. This year female filmmakers account for 34 percent of the movies screened. These steps may feel small, but filmmakers are taking notice. And in the competitive world of fall film festivals, TIFF might be regaining some of its influence after losing ground over the last few years to more exclusive confabs like Venice and Telluride."


ATLANTA:  The 48th annual Atlanta Pride Festival and Parade will take place October 12-14. 

LOS ANGELES:  RIDE Foundation (Robyn & Italo Dance Events) will host its second annual Dance For Freedom gala September 29 at Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The event, which benefits local organizations that fight human trafficking, will have a live ballroom dance show by Louis Van Amstel and Anna Trebunskaya.

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner:

NEW ORLEANS:  Hilton New Orleans Riverside has appointed Marc Osier executive chef. 

NEW YORK:  The Essence Street Style Festival will take place Sunday at Duggal Greenhouse in Brooklyn. The event will be hosted by Insecure actress Amanda Seales and will honor singer and chef Kelis and fashion influencer Kellie Brown. The event will have sponsor activations from Nike, Shea Moisture, and Macy’s. 

Farm Sanctuary, an organization dedicated to fighting factory farming abuses, will have its “Farm Sanctuary on the Hudson” gala October 4 at Pier Sixty. The event will be hosted by actress Bellamy Young and feature a performance by Colbie Caillat. 

Conrad New York hotel has appointed Trevor Brune director of catering and events. 

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner:

TORONTO:  Toronto Star: “Mediation efforts to resolve a months-long labour dispute between locked-out stagehands and Exhibition Place are suspended, the venue’s board of governors said Wednesday, as an impasse over contracting out jobs threatens to mar events scheduled in the coming months.”

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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

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