In Defense of Carlos de Abreu

For years and years, Movie City News founder David Poland and others have piled on Carlos de Abreu’s annual Hollywood Film Awards. The very loosely juried late October celebration kicks off the auditorium portion of Hollywood film awards season following the film-festival triumvirate of Telluride, Venice and Toronto.

In light of today’s announcement that the event will be televised starting this fall in partnership with Dick Clark Productions, we would like to make a couple of humble suggestions. Firstly, we think now is the perfect time for de Abreu’s harshest critics to ratchet down the tiresome attacks a little.

Sites like Movie City News rely greatly on film awards season ad money. We’re not suggesting that Poland and his colleagues are in the habit of molding their coverage to fit that month’s banner advertisers or sponsors. But awards season bloggers, awards season event hosts, awards season studios… They’re all feeding at the same trough.

In fact, there are more than a few film festivals besides de Abreu’s that each season routinely herald various and sometimes laughable lifetime achievement, vanguard achievement and [insert fancy word here] achievement awards. All with the wink-wink knowledge that these kudos are the bait for A-list honoree and studio big wig attendance.

Just as the HFPA was able to put Pia Zadora in the Vegas rear-view mirror, de Abreu we believe has earned the right to expect more constructive criticism. We’ll get the ball rolling with the suggestion that he add some transparency to the Hollywood Film Awards selection process and consider sharing a full first-name last-name list of the folks who help him pick the podium posse. And-or initiate any necessary overhaul and additions. At this to-be-televised stage, we need more detailed information than this:

Our “film awards” are bestowed on HONOREES/RECIPIENTS, not nominees. The recipients are not competing; they are selected to be honored for their body of work and/or a film(s) that is to be released during the calendar year. In addition, for the recipients of our “film awards craft categories” (aside from evaluating their body of work), our Advisory team takes into consideration the recommendation of their guilds/societies…

The selection process for our HONOREES takes multiple elements into consideration and involves attending pre-press private industry screenings, press screenings, festival screenings and research. It also includes the support and participation of established entertainment industry executives, from agents, critics, directors, managers, producers, publicists, screenwriters and studio execs to members of the craft guilds.

If de Abreu plays his cards right, 2014 could be remembered not just as the year that the Hollywood Film Awards graduated to prime time TV. But also the year the show mechanisms graduated to prime time as well. Ballroom’s in his court.

Update (January 10):
Poland has responded to this item with a lengthy and lively essay. We urge everyone to read it in full, but he concludes with:

Let’s not delude ourselves and pretend that it is, on any level, anything more than a piece of business. For Carlos, for Dick Clark Productions (which continues to have a shaky relationship with HFPA and could threaten to leverage this show against January in the case of a split), and for CBS…

[And] don’t try to tell me someone earned it… or that Carlos is not a hustler… or that an award selected by one guy based on projected success in other award venues and talent availability is anything other than a con. Don’t lie… to me or yourself.

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