Who wee, James Toback is pissed about his documentary, "Tyson" getting the snub from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who announced their Oscar documentary short-list earlier this week and left off his raw portrait of once-boxing great Mike Tyson.
15 docs were picked on the shortlist ("Anvil! The Story Of Anvil" was another very-deserving doc that got shafted as was R.J Cutler's Anna Wintour doc, “The September Issue”) and "Tyson" didn't make the cut so the New York Times called up Toback to get his reaction and he's hopping mad.
And he wouldn't give exact details, but apparently the doc was snubbed because of an irregularity that he says is tantamount to "extortion." “How is some tiny, dirty covert weirdly protective little group within the Academy going to be immune?” he posited to the Times reporter about the funny business that goes on behind-the-scenes in everything from presidential elections to award selection committees.
What happened exactly? Toback won't say, but when pressed said the experienced had something to do with the selections process, “which I put fully in the category of extortion that I did not go along with.” He adds that he was “furious” at himself for “having chosen to be passive and quiet in the face of that extortion.”
The chairman of the executive committee of the documentary branch was asked if he knew what Toback was alluding to his response was, “I have no idea. It certainly hasn’t come before me.”
Apparently the selection process is different. The Times explains:
Unlike contenders in other categories, candidates for best feature documentary are winnowed from a field of eligible films that this year numbered 89. Mr. Epstein said most of about 150 members participated in one or both of two committees that review feature-length and short documentaries.
Because of the way films are distributed for viewing among members, who do not see all submissions, a very small number of people can determine the fate of a film. Mr. Epstein described the process as being fairer than an earlier one, under which a Los Angeles-based committee drawn from all Academy branches reviewed documentaries.
So what is this all about? Toback has a long-standing reputation for being a loose cannon, so who knows, surely more of it will come out in the next few days. Meanwhile, the small consolation the snubbed documentaries receive — which includes, "Capitalism: A Love Story," "Crude" and "We Live In Public" to name a few —is that they are all still eligible for the Best Picture category. But that's obviously not much reassurances as none of these picture unfortunately probably have a shot there. Our own personal thoughts? We didn't find the snub a huge personal affront. "Tyson" was fascinating, but necessarily a bonafide Oscar contender. Should it have at least made the shortlist? Yes, probably? But something of value is always going to get cut when you start measuring art, no?
Update: So is Toback just a nutter spouting off? He apparently released a statement after his NYTimes interview that read, "I regret that I didn’t bring my concerns to the attention of the Academy sooner but I have now done so and I have been reassured that they are looking into the matter."
What is that matter? An Academy’s executive director told the Wrap that the director's “concern was that one of the documentarians voting to pick the shortlist bore him a grudge and should have recused himself/herself from the balloting.”
Apparently they have investigated and that one vote wouldn't have made a difference.
The accounting firm, he says, quoting PwC’s report, “has assured us that ‘no single voter was responsible for [“Tyson”’s] failure to make the shortlist….’”Sour grapes, being a sore loser, etc.?