Dear Gossips,

There was an election last night in Hollywood. The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the organisation that oversees the Oscars, voted for a new president. In the days leading up to the election, Laura Dern had emerged as a frontrunner for the job. She’s been an active member of the Academy for years. She’s been working behind the scenes, pushing for more diversity, and now runs a production company that aims to find more roles for older women in the industry. If elected, Laura would have been the first actress to become president of the Academy in 76 years, the first since the legendary Bette Davis. Bette Davis stepped down after only two months because, as she described afterwards, “It became clear to me that this was a surprise. I was not supposed to preside intelligently”. It was 1941.

Laura Dern was indeed nominated to run as president. But she declined the nomination because, at 50 years old, she’s enjoying one of the most productive phases of her career. She’s up for an Emmy for her performance as Renata Klein in Big Little Lies. She’s going to be in the next Star Wars movie opening in December. She’s currently starring in Twin Peaks. She’s been working on the JT Leroy movie with Kristen Stewart. She’ll likely be making the rounds during festival season next month in support of Alexander Payne’s Downsizing alongside Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig. So while it’s disappointing that Laura won’t be “presiding intelligently” over the Academy, as she surely would have, she did instead back the nomination of casting director David Rubin. Who was not elected Academy president last night.

John Bailey, cinematographer, is the incoming president of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. He’s been an academy member since 1996 so some are interpreting his victory to mean that the academy valued his “experience” over others who have not served as long on the board. John is white. He’s 75 years old. And, according to The Hollywood Reporter:

The fact that Bailey prevailed is seen by some as a victory for the more conservative wing of the 54-person board, which feels that the board has become too activist in recent years.

Back in 2012, a Los Angeles Times study found that the Oscar voters were nearly 94% white and 77% male. The LA Times updated their findings in 2016, reporting that Oscar voters were 91% white and 76% male. Just 6 weeks ago however, the Academy released its list of 774 new members, a new record. Of the 774 new members, 39% are female and 30% are people of colour. The Academy was widely praised at the time for its diversity initiative. But… as I wrote at the time... there was also warning, as Vanity Fair reported that “opening its doors wider has led some to criticize the Academy for abandoning its traditionally high standards of entrance”.

“Tradition.” And “experience”, which is the word used to describe how John Bailey came to be elected as the Academy president last night. When you combine those two words, “experience” and “tradition”, do you get the word CHANGE?

Here's Laura Dern at LAX yesterday with her daughter. 

Yours in gossip,