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In a third-act twist that nobody could see coming, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has rescinded the Oscar nomination of sound mixer Greg P. Russell one day ahead of the Academy Awards. Russell, nominated for his work on the Michael Bay film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi on the grounds of violating campaign regulations. Oscar watchers note that a similar action occurred a few years prior on the obscure film Alone Yet Not Alone, which received a Best Song nomination only for it be removed from the ballot. However, for a change of this magnitude to happen so close to the Oscar telecast is unprecedented.
Russell, who has received 16 previous Oscar nominations throughout his distinguished career (notably without yet nabbing a statue), lost his nomination after it appeared to come to light that he made calls in the nomination phase of the awards season endorsing his work to members of the Academy’s Sound Branch. Nominees for the Oscars are voted on by members of the various branches of the Academy (i.e. – actors nominate fellow actors, writers nominate fellow writers), while the entire Academy votes on eventual winners. This discovery led to the removal of Russell’s name in contention in the Best Sound Mixing category as it is in direct violation of campaign lobbying rules.
In a press release, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs stated, “The Board of Governors’ decision to rescind Mr. Russell’s nomination was made after careful consideration. The Academy takes very seriously the Oscars voting process and anything – no matter how well-intentioned – that may undermine the integrity of that process.” Russell’s nominated sound mixing colleagues – Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth – still remain. An industry veteran, Russell previously earned nods for his work on films such as Skyfall, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Memoirs of a Geisha.
The 89th Academy Awards take place on Sunday, February 26th.