Oscar nomination voting extended after online hitches

LOS ANGELES Tue Jan 1, 2013 10:41am IST

A large Oscar statue stands in the hallway at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood September 10, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files

A large Oscar statue stands in the hallway at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood September 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser/Files

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Voting for Oscar nominations was extended by a day after some people reported problems with a new online voting system, organisers of the movie industry's coveted awards said Monday.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said the deadline for its 6,000 members to vote on nominations for the year's best films, performances, directors, screenplay and other achievements would be extended to Friday, January 4 - 24 hours after the original January 3 deadline.

"By extending the voting deadline we are providing every opportunity available to make the transition to online balloting as smooth as possible," Ric Robertson, chief operating officer of the academy, said in a statement.

"We're grateful to our global membership for joining us in this process," Robertson added.

Nominations for the 2013 Oscars will be announced on January 10, setting off weeks of speculation and campaigning by movie studios and industry pundits before the winners are announced in Hollywood on February 24.

The academy is using electronic balloting this year for the first time in its 85-year history but has also said any member can submit a paper ballot if preferred.

Monday's announcement follows reports of frustration on the part of some members in logging into the new online system, as well as some slowness in ballots being returned by both the new or old method.

A source close to the Academy acknowledged that some members had experienced problems with forgotten passwords or user names and that the extended deadline would help in resolving those issues in this first year.

The deadline to return nominating ballots was pushed forward by about two weeks this year, leaving the actors, directors, producers and other academy members less time to view the many movies opening in December that are vying for Oscar nominations.

Trade website The Hollywood Reporter, which spoke to at least 10 members of the academy last week, reported that some had been locked out of the website over password issues, others found the website confusing, and some were concerned about the website being hacked and results being leaked.

The academy in December sent all its paid-up members paper ballots in a precautionary move prompted by what entertainment website TheWrap.com said was concern about the number of people who, at that time, had not chosen whether to vote online or on paper.

Robertson told TheWrap when voting opened on December 17 that although some members were opposed to online voting, he was "pleasantly surprised" that more people than he had expected had registered to vote online.

In the past, Oscar ballots have been mailed around the world to academy members and the results have been tabulated by hand by the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm.

The move to electronic voting was seen as speeding up the process and making it easier to swiftly reach members working or living overseas. It followed a lengthy consultation with academy members and officials, and the setting up of a 24-hour support center to help members use the online system.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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