Academy president Tom Sherak, who expanded Oscars Best Picture race, dies at 68

Tom Sherak, who led the motion picture academy through a period of great change and revitalization, died Tuesday at age 68 after a 12-year battle with prostate cancer 

As president of the academy, this marketing exec implemented the expansion of the roster of Best Picture nominees from five to 10 in 2009. After two years, he oversaw the finessing of this category so that between five and 10 pictures were nominated; the final tally has come in at nine in each of the three years of this modification.

He also advocated the use of electronic voting. Sure, there were some growing pains last year when it was introduced but this year it has been all systems go. 

And he pushed for greater inclusivity in the exclusive membership of the academy, with more women and visible minorities being asked to join each year of his tenure. 

Sherak also used his diplomatic skills to jumpstart the stalled academy museum and merged his organization’s efforts with that of the LA County Museum of Art, with a new building set to open on museum mile in 2017. 

And he shepherded the negotiations with ABC which will see the Oscarcast on the alphabet net till 2020. 

After stepping down as academy president in 2012, this one-time executive at Fox and Revolution took on a non-paid position as film czar for the city of Los Angeles. 

Sherak was also a tireless advocate for charities, raising millions over the years for the MS Society and serving on the executive of the Motion Picture and Television Fund. 

His family released the following statement through the academy:

To the entertainment community: With broken hearts we want to share with you the news that Tom Sherak passed away today after a long 12 year battle with prostate cancer. He died at home surrounded by his family giving him hugs, kisses, and love. Tom is, was, and always will be, our loving husband, daddy, papa, brother, friend, and “Go to Guy.” He blessed this earth for 68 incredible years, and he will be missed every single day. Tom lived his life as an open book. He opened his heart and let the world in, and anyone who was lucky enough to know him knew first hand the power of his love. He gave everything he had to help others, regardless of whether or not he knew them. Tom is a true hero in our lives who has a star on the sidewalk and wings to fly. We love him so very much.

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