New Academy President John Bailey is a Surprise Choice

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has elected cinematographer John Bailey as its 36th president—a surprise choice who would seem to represent the interests of the group’s below-the-line members, rather than acting branch governor Laura Dern.

Bailey, 74, whose credits include Ordinary People, American Gigolo, The Big Chill, and 2017’s How to Be a Latin Lover, was elected Tuesday evening by the group’s 54-member board of governors.

Dern would have represented a new direction for the Academy, which has for the last two decades selected leaders who are largely unknown to the public. Instead, the group once again chose an industry veteran with experience behind the camera and within the Academy; Bailey has just entered his fourteenth year as an Academy governor.

Bailey replaces marketing executive Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who headed up the Academy through four years of dramatic change.

In addition, the Academy elected makeup artist Lois Burwell first vice president (awards and events), Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy vice president (museum committee), editor Michael Tronick vice president (preservation and history), Fox Searchlight co-president Nancy Utley vice president (education and outreach), Paramount chief Jim Gianopulos treasurer, and cast director David Rubin secretary.

Bailey and the Academy’s board face the task of overseeing construction on the industry group’s $400 million museum, scheduled to open in 2019; implementing ambitious diversity goals; and planning the next Oscar telecast, which will be held on March 4.

Asked in an interview with Vanity Fair in June what advice she would have for the incoming Academy president, Boone Isaacs reflected on the intense glare that accompanies the position.

“The world truly is watching,” Boone Isaacs said. “The good news is, there’s interest in the organization and all that we do. Build on that. Keep us fresh.”

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