Change could be coming to the Annie Awards with the election of Frank Gladstone as the head of the organization that runs these kudos honoring the best in animation. The recent 38th annual ceremony was mired in controversy after Pixar and Disney withdrew from formal consideration last August citing concerns with the voting process.
DreamWork’s “How to Train Your Dragon” — which led with 15 nominations — was the big winner, taking 10 races, including best picture. It replicated the feat two years ago of another DreamWorks film, “Kung Fu Panda,” which won the same 10 awards while Pixar’s eventual Oscar champ “Wall-E” was shut out.
This year, Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” and Disney’s “Tangled” received no recognition from these awards. Between them, these two high-profile pictures had managed only five write-in nominations, all of which they lost. Beyond their best picture bids, “Toy Story 3” was in the hunt for best director (Lee Unkrich) and best screenplay (Michael Arndt) while “Tangled” also contends for best screenplay (Dan Fogelman). The extent of the rift was such that eight-time Oscar champ Alan Menken was snubbed for his “Tangled” score.
That these two animation powerhouses decline to take part in these kudos undermines their legitimacy. And that concerns Gladstone, the newly-elected president of the awards administrators — the Hollywood branch of the International Animated Film Society. He defeated Antran Manoogian who had ruled there for more than two decades.
Gladstone has worked for both Disney and DreamWorks and now runs his own consulting firm. In a statement, he addressed the issues confronting the group: “I am looking forward to being the ‘new face’ of the organization and to making some significant changes to the status quo. For starters, this includes updating our membership qualifications, establishing a representative voice for every animation studio and creative technique, building an advisory board of animation luminaries and revising the voting structure of the annual Annie Awards.”