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    Film Academy Chief Gets a Sequel: Bill Kramer’s Contract Is Renewed

    Amid challenges in Hollywood, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences renewed its chief executive’s contract a year early.In a time of flux in Hollywood, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that oversees the Oscars, placed a bet on continuity, announcing Monday that it would extend Bill Kramer’s tenure as chief executive through July 2028.Kramer’s contract, which was up for renewal in 2025, was approved one year early “due to his exceptional leadership and significant contributions,” the academy said.“He is the ideal person to continue to broaden the Academy’s reach and impact on our international film community and successfully guide the organization into our next 100 years,” Janet Yang, the academy’s president, said in a statement.The academy has faced a number of challenges in recent years: It has worked to diversify the Oscars after nominating only white actors in 2015, faced the steep drop-off in television ratings facing award shows, struggled with the fallout after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards and opened a museum.This year’s Academy Awards drew 19.5 million viewers, a four-year high, according to Nielsen. It was the third consecutive year that Oscar viewership had grown, but it was still far below previous levels: Before 2018, the telecast never had fewer than 32 million viewers. This year’s telecast started an hour earlier than usual.Before becoming chief executive of the Academy in June 2022, Kramer served for two years as the director of its new museum, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, and he was credited with helping get it open after years of delays. Kramer’s total compensation was $865,568 from the academy and related organizations in 2022, the year he started as chief executive, according to the academy’s most recent tax filing.Kramer’s contract extension comes as the Academy Museum is working to recover from criticism over how it tells the story of the Jewish immigrants who started movie studios and helped create the U.S. film industry. When the museum first opened, it was faulted for saying relatively little about them, even as it celebrated diversity in film. The museum responded by opening a permanent new exhibition highlighting the contributions of Hollywood’s Jewish founders, but when that installation was criticized by some Jewish film professionals, the museum announced that it would makes changes.Kramer now oversees all aspects of the academy, which has more than 700 employees in Los Angeles, New York and London.The academy has an annual operating budget of about $170 million, 70 percent of which comes from its Oscars broadcast deal with Disney and ABC, which runs through 2028. Last month, the Academy announced a global $500 million campaign to shore up its financial future.“Like any healthy organization or company,” Kramer said in an interview as he announced the international fund-raising effort, “the academy needs a sustainable and diverse base of support to allow for solid long-term planning and fiscal certainty.” More

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    ‘Bad Boys’ Ticket Buyers Toss Will Smith a Career Lifeline

    Mr. Smith’s first wide-release film since he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars two years ago arrived to a hefty $56 million at the North American box office.Moviegoers sent Will Smith a clear message over the weekend: We forgive you.“Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” the fourth entry in the Sony Pictures franchise — and Mr. Smith’s first wide release since he slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards in 2022 — arrived to roughly $56 million in ticket sales in the United States and Canada, according to Sony. That No. 1 result was a career milestone for Mr. Smith: He now has 15 first-place debuts as a leading man on his résumé.“Ride or Die,” which returned Mr. Smith to one of his signature roles, cost an estimated $100 million to make, not including marketing. It received positive reviews, with many critics noting a comedic moment that seemed to refer to Mr. Smith’s behavior at the 2022 Oscars: Mr. Smith is slapped by his co-star, Martin Lawrence, and called a “bad boy.”Ticket buyers gave the R-rated “Ride or Die” an A-minus grade in CinemaScore exit polls. The Rotten Tomatoes audience score stood at 97 percent positive on Saturday.Prerelease surveys that track audience interest had indicated that “Ride or Die” would arrive to about $45 million in North American ticket sales. Sony was hoping for at least $30 million.Mr. Smith’s popularity, as measured by the Q Scores Company, plummeted after his behavior at the 2022 Oscars.Frank Masi/Columbia PicturesHollywood as a whole was unsure what to expect. For a variety of reasons — too few movies, movies that didn’t appeal to wide audiences, changing consumer habits — the summer box office has been in a deep freeze.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Will Smith Taps Nostalgia as He Attempts a Post-Slap Comeback

    “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” the latest entry in a nearly three-decade- old franchise, will be Smith’s first wide-release film since he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars in 2022.During the Latin pop star J Balvin’s set at Coachella in April, a surprise guest star suddenly appeared onstage: Will Smith, wearing a familiar black suit and sunglasses, launched into the title song of “Men in Black,” his 1997 Hollywood blockbuster.It was the beginning of a frenetic spring for Smith as he carefully re-enters the public eye to promote “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” his first wide-release movie since he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars in 2022, a move that threatened to derail his career.Smith has been back walking red carpets, bantering on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” and eating spicy chicken until his eyes watered on “Hot Ones,” the popular YouTube show. He told Fallon his publicity tour had taken him to eight cities in 12 days, with stops in Dubai and in Riyadh for what he described as the first Hollywood premiere in Saudi Arabia.“Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” the latest entry in a nearly three-decade old franchise, is opening nationwide on Friday. The film industry will be closely watching how it does to see whether the moviegoing public is ready to welcome Smith back after an event so shocking and ignominious that it achieved proper-noun status: the Slap.Whether by accident or agreement, the Slap has not come up much in Smith’s prerelease publicity blitz. But the film itself seems to refer to it, archly, as several critics have noted: In it, Smith gets slapped by his co-star, Martin Lawrence, and called a “bad boy.”Lawrence appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Smith and praised him effusively. “He is one of the most professional actors out there, most talented actors out there, he has a brilliant mind, he’s a genius and he’s upstanding,” he said.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Albert S. Ruddy, 94, Dies; Producer Won an Oscar for ‘The Godfather’

    A creator of the sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes,” he went on to win a second Academy Award for “Million Dollar Baby,” the boxing film starring Hilary Swank and Clint Eastwood.Albert S. Ruddy, who found early success in television as a creator of “Hogan’s Heroes,” the situation comedy about Allied prisoners outwitting their bumbling Nazi captors in a P.O.W. camp, and then became a movie producer who won Oscars for “The Godfather” and “Million Dollar Baby,” died on Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 94.His death, in a hospital, was confirmed by his wife, Wanda McDaniel, and his daughter, Alexandra Ruddy.Mr. Ruddy was a gravelly-voiced former systems programmer and shoe salesman who, by the time Paramount Pictures was preparing to film “The Godfather,” had become known for the unlikely success of “Hogan’s Heroes” and for producing a couple of movies that had come in under budget.“Ruddy is a tall, thin, nervously enthusiastic man who sees himself as a shrewd manipulator,” Nicholas Pileggi wrote in The New York Times Magazine in 1971 about the making of “The Godfather,” an adaptation of the Mario Puzo novel about the Corleone crime family. “Ruddy had always been able to talk his way through obstacles.”Among the many hurdles he faced as “The Godfather’s” producer was the animosity toward the prospective film shown by Italian Americans, civic-minded ethnic groups like the Sons of Italy and members of Congress, who thought the movie would perpetuate gangster stereotypes. Paramount feared economic boycotts.The person who concerned Mr. Ruddy most was Joseph Colombo Sr., the reputed Mafia crime boss who had founded the Italian American Civil Rights League. He had persuaded the F.B.I. to stop using the terms Mafia and Cosa Nostra in its news releases.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Which Cannes Films Might Become Oscar Contenders?

    Films backed by the studio Neon have won Cannes and gone on to Oscar nominations regularly in the last few years. That’s one reason to keep an eye on “Anora.”Last year’s Cannes Film Festival was practically a one-stop shop for Oscar voters, premiering three major films — “Anatomy of a Fall,” “The Zone of Interest” and “Killers of the Flower Moon” — that would go on to be nominated for best picture.Does this year’s crop of Cannes movies have the same juice?At the 77th edition of the festival, which concluded Saturday, Sean Baker’s “Anora” was named the winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or. Three of the last four Palme winners went on to receive a best-picture nomination — “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Triangle of Sadness” and “Parasite” — and all of them, like “Anora,” were distributed by the studio Neon. That’s an astonishing streak that positions “Anora” in the best way possible, lending a veneer of prestige to Baker’s raucous comedy about a Brooklyn stripper who marries into Russian wealth.In 2018, Baker’s “The Florida Project” came awfully close to a best-picture nomination. If voters are more amenable to his indie sensibility this time around, expect robust campaigns for the lead Mikey Madison and for Baker’s script and direction. More of a long shot but equally worthy is supporting actor Mark Eydelshteyn as the live-wire heir our title character weds: Though Oscar voters rarely reward young men, this kid’s a total find, like a Russian Timothée Chalamet.Zoe Saldaña shared the best actress award at Cannes with three other female co-stars of “Emilia Pérez,” which is so much more than a musical.VixensIn a surprise move, the Cannes jury split the best actress award four ways, honoring the main female cast of the talked-about musical “Emilia Pérez.” That means the ensemble member Selena Gomez now has a Cannes trophy that has eluded the likes of Marion Cotillard, though I suspect more fruitful Oscar campaigns would be waged on behalf of the leading lady Zoe Saldaña, who’s never had a more robust role, and especially Karla Sofía Gascón, who could become the first trans actress to be nominated for an Oscar. (The fourth winner was Adriana Paz.)Netflix has picked up “Emilia Pérez” and will certainly give it a significant awards push, though the streamer’s stewardship could have drawbacks. It’s true that this is a hard-to-classify film — equal parts crime drama, trans empowerment narrative and full-blown movie musical — which would have made it a difficult theatrical sell. But some of its more outrageous moments are certain to be memed and mocked as soon as it makes its streaming debut, which could hobble the film’s reputation.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Richard Sherman, Songwriter of Many Spoonfuls of Sugar, Dies at 95

    He and his brother, Robert, teamed up to write the songs for “Mary Poppins” and other Disney classics. They also gave the world “It’s a Small World (After All).”Richard M. Sherman, the younger brother in a songwriting team that won two Oscars and two Grammys, brought Disney movies to musical life and gave the world numbers like “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and the ubiquitous, multiply translated “It’s a Small World (After All),” died on Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 95.The death, in a hospital, was announced by the Walt Disney Company.The careers of the Shermans — Richard and Robert — were inextricably linked with Walt Disney. Their Academy Awards were for “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” a chimney sweep’s alternately cheerful and plaintive anthem from “Mary Poppins” (1964), and for the film’s score. Their Grammy Awards were for “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too,” shared in 1975 for best recording for children, and the “Mary Poppins” score.“It’s a Small World” was written for the Disney theme-park ride of the same name. The song plays as guests in boats pass among 240 dolls of many nations with identical faces — tiny can-can and folk dancers, mermaids and mariachi bands — plus Big Ben, the Taj Mahal and grinning farm animals.“People want to kiss us or kill us,” Richard Sherman said in a 2011 video interview about the song, which he said was “the biggest hit of the World’s Fair,” where it was introduced in 1964.The Shermans brought a musical-theater sensibility to movie songwriting. The question was never which came first, the music or the words; what came first was the idea.The framework of “Mary Poppins” did not exist until the Shermans got their hands on P.L. Travers’s beloved books about a magical nanny, a series of adventures in 1930s London with no discernible conflict or resolution. In the movie, the problem is the children’s behavior, brought on by a neglectful father. It also seemed like bad taste to employ live-in servants during hard economic times, so they moved the Banks family to the Edwardian era.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Film Academy Looks Overseas for Donors

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced a global $500 million campaign to shore up its financial future.The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday announced a global $500 million fund-raising effort to help diversify its base of support and ensure its financial future in a period of transformation for the film industry and the nonprofit cultural sector.“Both are going through radical business model shifts right now due to changing audience habits and revenue streams,” Bill Kramer, the chief executive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said in an email. “As a nonprofit, and like any healthy organization or company, the academy needs a sustainable and diverse base of support to allow for solid long-term planning and fiscal certainty.”Announced during a news conference in Rome hosted by the Italian film studio Cinecittà, the campaign is called Academy100, in honor of the 100th Oscars ceremony in 2028. The academy plans to use about $300 million of the new funds to bring its endowment to $800 million; the remainder will go toward operating expenses and special projects.The academy currently has an annual operating budget of about $170 million, 70 percent of which comes from its Oscars broadcast deal with Disney and ABC, which runs through 2028. About $45 million of the operating expenses are used by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.Given the challenges experienced by many cultural organizations, the academy has reason to want to shore up its finances. In March, for example, Joana Vicente of the Sundance Film Festival resigned after less than three years as chief executive amid questions about her fund-raising abilities. Last summer, Center Theater Group in Los Angeles announced a series of sharp cutbacks — including suspending productions at the Mark Taper Forum — to deal with drops in revenue and attendance. And the Metropolitan Opera in New York has withdrawn emergency funds from its endowment.The academy said in its news release that the money raised “will endow and fund programs that recognize excellence in cinematic artistry and innovation; preserve our film history; enable the creation of world-class film exhibitions, screenings and publications; train and educate the next generation of diverse global film artists; and produce powerful digital content.”More than $100 million has already been committed to the campaign, the academy said, including support from Rolex, which is based in Switzerland.As part of the effort, the academy plans to host gatherings and events in locations around the world to “become increasingly global,” press materials said, and help develop a global “pool of new filmmakers and academy members and support the worldwide filmmaking community.”The academy said its “expanded international outreach” will include Buenos Aires; Johannesburg; Kyoto, Japan; Lagos, Nigeria; London; Marrakesh, Morocco; Melbourne, Australia; Mexico City; and Mumbai. More

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    The ‘Fall Guy’ Filmmakers Have a Cause: Give Stunts an Oscar

    The academy is keeping mum about the prospect, but the movie is part of a renewed push for a new Academy Award first considered more than 30 years ago.The life of stuntmen and women is never glamorous. The job is to take the fall, endure the pain, break the bone, then walk away — unsung, battered and bruised. They usually move on to the next gig without ever seeing the finished product. They rarely get invited to the movie premiere. Oscars? Forget about it.That narrative seems to be changing with the new action-comedy-romance “The Fall Guy,” the loose film adaptation of the 1980s television show that opens Friday. The movie, directed by the former stuntman David Leitch, stars Ryan Gosling as Colt Seavers, a down-on-his-luck stuntman who returns to set after a nasty accident to solve the mystery of a missing leading man (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and, more important, to get the girl (played by Emily Blunt).The director David Leitch and producer Kelly McCormick said they wanted to give stunt performers their due.Suzanne Cordeiro/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesNot only does the film give the best portrayal of the life of a stuntman since Burt Reynolds starred in the 1978 action comedy “Hooper,” directed by another ex-stuntman, Hal Needham, but so much of the promotional efforts have placed the stunt crew front and center, including the newly minted world-record holder Logan Holladay (he rolled a retrofitted Jeep Grand Cherokee eight and a half times) and the high-fall virtuoso Troy Lindsay Brown. They and two others served as Gosling’s doubles in the film.At the Berlin premiere, the team broke through a brick wall with another double, Ben Jenkin, riding on the hood of a truck. In London, Holladay wheelied in on a motorcycle and Jenkin crashed through some breakable glass.And on Tuesday at the Los Angeles premiere, Brown tumbled from a 45-foot-high scissor lift onto a blowup mattress and Justin Eaton, another Gosling stunt double, engaged in a three-way fistfight with all of the performers breaking through another sheet of faux glass. Then Jenkin flipped from the balcony of the Dolby Theater onto the stage moments before Gosling took the mic to declare, “This movie is just a giant campaign to get stunts an Oscar.”Gosling joked, “This movie is just a giant campaign to get stunts an Oscar.”87 NorthIndeed, putting the stunt performers on the very stage where the Oscars are held is all part of deliberate efforts by Leitch, his producing partner and wife, Kelly McCormick, and the marketers at Universal to give these action pros their due. “It’s an important part of why we made this,” Leitch said in an interview. “We wanted to humanize these people. It really does hurt. And yet, we don’t really know what they feel because they’re not supposed to be seen.”They may become more visible if the couple have their way. The push for an Oscar category is not the subtle subtext of “The Fall Guy”; it is the text. There’s even a moment in the movie when Gosling’s Seavers is asked if stunt performers receive Oscars for their work. “Stunts?” he replies. “No,” then raises his glass to the “unsung heroes.”“It’s baked into the film,” the screenwriter Drew Pearce said in an interview from his home office. “There are not that many members of the crew who can break their back by going into work that day. The idea that they wouldn’t be acknowledged but me sitting in here on a laptop is, obviously, doesn’t seem just in any way.”The hit television show “The Fall Guy” ran for five seasons in the early 1980s, and its epic action, including truck jumps and high-elevation falls, proved to be a source of inspiration for the many Gen Xers who now dominate the stunt community. It even inspired those who didn’t make it into that world but found their way to Hollywood, like Pearce (who, as a child, concocted a stuntman course in his backyard only to discover his crippling fear of heights) and another of the film’s producers, Guymon Casady.Casady first convinced the TV show’s creator, Glen A. Larson, to license the property to him some 20 years ago, only for it to languish in the studio development process, as various iterations, including one with Dwayne Johnson and another with Nicolas Cage, fell apart. In 2019, Casady tried again, reviving the project with Leitch, who was fresh off his success on “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” and about to start “Bullet Train.” Leitch had begun his career as Brad Pitt’s stunt double and worked as a director and producer on the “John Wick” series.“The big idea from the very beginning was to make a movie where we were honoring the stunt craft,” Casady said. “That was an important idea for David, obviously, given his background, but we thought it was also a really unique character.”Yet, Leitch and company’s efforts are not new.Stuntman-turned-second-unit-director Jack Gill joined the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in 1991, determined to get himself and his colleagues recognized. The academy told him it would take three to five years of hard work to add the category. Cut to 2024, and Gill, who has no affiliation with “Fall Guy,” is still holding out hope that this happens in his lifetime. The new movie has made him optimistic.“It is a great representation of what a stunt person actually has to put up with and what they go through,” he said in an interview from a set in Phuket, Thailand. “I think a lot of the academy members that vote on whether we get an Oscar category are still a little bit in the dark about what we do. I don’t think they realize that most of the action is designed by us. It’s not designed by the writer or the director.”Jack Gill, with his wife, the actress Morgan Brittany, in his stuntman days. He has been pushing for an Oscar for the profession since 1991.Parker/Hulton Archive Via Getty Images/Hulton Archive, via Getty ImagesTo drive that point home, Chris O’Hara, who orchestrated the action on “The Fall Guy,” is now the first professional to earn the title stunt designer — a new designation approved by the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America — that establishes a benchmark for the work of a stunt coordinator and better aligns O’Hara’s work with other department heads on sets, including production and costume designers.O’Hara grew up in the business with Leitch, worked on “John Wick,” and served as his second-unit director and stunt coordinator on “Hobbs & Shaw.” For years he was content to stay in the shadows.“We knew what we did,” he said. “We weren’t out there to get recognition, accolades and attaboys.”But that changed when he started seeing his peers in visual effects ascend the Oscar stage. “They are amazing people at their craft, and visual effects are an essential part of filmmaking,” he said, but he pointed out that most of the effects being recognized involved action sequences with stunt performers. “I just think we need to be included. We are part of the film industry. We are part of cinema.”There are currently 101 stunt performers in the academy. They are part of the Production and Technology branch, which includes colorists, script supervisors and line producers, among others. Unlike other branches, which each have three governors to lobby on their behalf, this branch is headed by one.Yet Gill, Leitch and McCormick are encouraged by the progress the academy has made, including its decision to laud stunt work at the Oscars in March with a tribute that Gosling and Blunt introduced and that Leitch and McCormick produced.“I personally think that tribute is a huge step forward,” McCormick said. “If they didn’t want to recognize the stunt industry, they easily could have filled those two minutes with something else.”Gill is hopeful that the progress achieved by casting directors — who landed their own Oscar category beginning with the 2026 Academy Awards — can be replicated for stunt performers. Yet the academy is remaining mum on if or when this will happen. Its president, Janet Yang, attended the Los Angeles premiere of “The Fall Guy” on Tuesday, but a representative declined to comment on the status of a potential new Oscar.“Here I am, 33 years later, and we’re closer now because of the casting category,” Gill said. “They opened the door to the fact that, yes, we can create new branches and we can create new categories, which before they had told me was virtually impossible.”He added, “We’re trying to follow in their footsteps and jump right in behind them. With ‘Fall Guy’ coming out, I think we’ve got a good shot at it.” More