In news that might make you think twice before retweeting your week-old memes, producer Michael Shamberg sued the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Monday for disregarding his attempts to enhance its social media presence. According to the New York Times, the Django Unchained and Reno 911! executive producer’s lawsuit asserts the Academy violated its own rules when “its 54-member board declined to vote on bylaw amendments proposed by Shamberg.” The producer also lambasted the organization in an interview. “The place is being run into the ground,” he said. “They think if they don’t talk about problems they will go away. I’m tired of it.”
According to the Times, Shamberg, an Academy member since 1981, made a formal proposition to amend the organization’s rules to allow for greater use of social media, hire consultants as needed, and institute a yearly member survey, a proposal the board did not vote on either way. “It is the Academy’s stubborn refusal to engage the audience on social media that dooms the Oscars to a has-been awards show,” Shamberg wrote in an email to the board on June 30.
“None of you filmmakers, publicists or studio executives would approve a digital marketing campaign for one of your movies that is as bland and all over the map as Academy posts,” he said. Shamberg asserts that same “bland and formulaic” social media strategy leaves young adults unengaged and members without a proper outlet.
In a July 10 email, the Academy board replied to the producer, who unsuccessfully ran for a board seat in June, arguing that just because Shamberg submitted a proposal, does not mean the board is obligated to abide by it. “The fact that Mr. Shamberg disagrees with the Academy’s social media strategy does not mean the board has failed to exercise reasonable business judgment in that area,” general counselor Scott Miller wrote. “And it does not mean Mr. Shamberg is entitled to supplant their judgment with his.” Meanwhile, back in February, the 2020 Oscars pulled in the smallest Academy Award audience of all time.