Oscar’s in the Mail

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences have sent out the ballots for the 73rd Annual Academy Awards – and this time, Academy voters, rest assured. You will get them on time.

In an attempt to avoid a repeat performance of last year, when several thousand ballots were mistakenly mixed in with bulk mail shipments and never sent out, the AMPAS took extra precautions when sending out the approximately 4,300 ballots to voting members on Wednesday. The organization mailed ballots to overseas members and those outside of California early-on Feb. 21.

Oscar organizers traditionally dropped off the ballots in canvas bags at the Beverly Hills post office. This year, according to AMPAS president Robert Rehme, “The post office …came and picked them up [from the Academy].”

Lost ballots were not the only problem the Academy experienced last year. A shipment of 55 Oscar statuettes was stolen off a loading dock, with all but three recovered later, only days before the awards show aired.

Ballots must be returned to the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20, 2001. The votes are then tabulated by the auditing firm and the winners’ names are placed in sealed envelopes to be opened on Oscar Night®.

MORE OSCAR NEWS…: Legendary child actress, Margaret O’Brien, who won her only Academy Award as “special child-actor” for her performance in the 1945 “Meet Me in St. Louis,” has pulled her Oscar from a charity auction, officials at the Sacremento AIDS Foundation said.

The award was taken off the block at the request of the AMPAS. “Out of respect for the Academy and all my fellow Oscar winners, I am removing my Oscar from the auction,” O’Brien said in a written statement.

The award itself has changed many hands. It was stolen originally in 1954 and found 31 years later, when two collectors found it at a Pasadena swap meet and returned it to O’Brien. According to Academy spokesman John Pavlik, the Academy gave O’Brien a replacement after she signed an agreement stating she would offer the Oscar to the Academy if she decided to sell it.

“We realize it was a good cause but we can’t open the door to one good cause and slam it in the face [of another],” said Pavlik. He went on to say, “We struggle to maintain the Oscar as a symbol of excellence in filmmaking and not how much money [someone] has to pay for one.”