Cheryl Boone Issacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, clarified Saturday why the academy revoked the original song Oscar nomination of composer Bruce Broughton earlier this week.
"It's not about a punishment," Isaacs told The Times, "but protecting the integrity of our voting process." Broughton became the first person to have his Oscar nomination revoked on ethical grounds after he emailed about 70 members of the academy's 240-member music branch, calling attention to "Alone Yet Not Alone," a song that was co-written by lyricist Dennis Spiegel and sung in the movie of the same name by Agoura Hills pastor Joni Eareckson Tada.
"I'm dropping you a line to boldly direct your attention to entry #57," Broughton wrote in his email, alluding to the track's number on a DVD of contending music. "I'm sending this note only because it is extremely unlikely that this small, independent, faith-based film will be seen by any music branch member; it's the only way I can think of to have anyone be aware of the song."
Isaacs told The Times that the "key point" in the academy's nullification of Broughton's nomination was its violation of Rule 5.3, requiring that the credits of composer and lyricist be removed from the DVD of eligible songs sent to members of the music branch.
"The idea," Isaacs says, "is that people are voting solely for the song and not who wrote it." By emailing branch members, Broughton, a former academy governor and current member of the music branch's executive committee, violated that anonymity.
"He exerted undue influence," Isaacs says, "using information that only an academy insider would have."
Isaacs said the decision to revoke Broughton's nomination came Tuesday at a scheduled board meeting. She would not reveal whether any lesser forms of punishment for Broughton were discussed, citing the confidentiality of academy board meetings. She did note that she had heard from a number of academy members after "Alone Yet Not Alone" was nominated for the original song Oscar on Jan. 16.
"There are numerous films with limited promotional budgets," Isaacs says. "This ["Alone Yet Not Alone"] was one that almost nobody knew."
As to why the academy didn't replace Broughton's nomination with another song, Isaacs cited rule 5.7, which reads: "In the event a nominated achievement is declared ineligible by the academy, it shall not be replaced, and the category will remain with one less nomination."
Broughton told The Times earlier this week that he was simply trying to draw attention to his independent movie, emailing people he knew, whose addresses, he said, came from his own personal contact list, not an academy database.
"They had previews and parties and huge promotion," Broughton said of the studio campaigns for Oscar-nominated songs from other films, which include box-office hits such as Disney's "Frozen" and Universal Pictures' "Despicable Me 2." "We had no budget. There's no Oscar campaign. All there is is this really stupid email that went out to about 70 people saying, 'Please look at my song.'"