ABC allegedly threatened to cancel the Oscars unless some awards were cut

(Image credit: VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

Some controversial changes to the 2022 Oscars reportedly came about after ABC threatened to pull the plug on the telecast entirely.

That's according to The Hollywood Reporter, which delves into the Oscars' announcement that eight awards won't be presented live this year. That decision has sparked backlash, and the Reporter describes a "civil war" now unfolding on the Academy's board.

But one source claims "he was told that ABC had warned the Academy that it would cancel the Oscars telecast, via a clause in the Academy and ABC's deal for the Oscars' broadcasting rights, if 12 categories were not removed from the show." This source, a governor of one of the branches affected who says he spoke with Academy CEO Dawn Hudson directly, alleged, "We were told we'd have to sacrifice something or we were going to lose the whole show." The Reporter says the current plan, though, was "able to satisfy" ABC.

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This plan as announced last week is for eight of the 23 awards — documentary short subject, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short film, live action short film, and sound — to be given out before the telecast, and the acceptance speeches will then be edited and placed into the broadcast. The change is coming after the 2021 Oscars drew record-low ratings, and Academy President David Rubin said, "We must prioritize the television audience to increase viewer engagement and keep the show vital, kinetic, and relevant."

But critics argue it disrespectfully relegates these eight categories to lesser status, even if the awards will still have some presence. A similar plan was announced in 2019, only for the decision to quickly be reversed due to backlash. This time, though, it would appear the Academy is moving full steam ahead.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.