Last Wednesday we posted a link from Variety in our Industry Headlines column (at right), Disney Withdraws from Annie Awards, which clearly deserves further discussion on Cartoon Brew. The Variety piece, as far as I know, is essentially fair and accurate. But some of the secondary reporting on this, on such blogs as the Animation Guild and Michael Sporn to name two, are unintentionally spreading misinformation. So I thought we owed it to our readers to set a few things straight.

First, Disney’s withdrawal does not mean Disney films will not be considered or nominated, and does not mean the studio has no chance to win future Annie Awards. They certainly will.

Disney’s decision only affects the Annie Awards in two ways: Disney will not provide their traditional portion of co-sponsorship money (a role that dates back at least twenty years), funds that help mount the annual event at UCLA’s Royce Hall. And secondly, the company currently says they will not submit nominees from their feature animation studios.

Disney and Pixar artists (and all animators, anywhere) should be aware that they can submit their own work for Annie nomination without studio assistance. Also, Annie nominating committees have the power to nominate work which was not submitted. Nominations are decided by peer-group committees, not studio execs, and winners are voted on by Asifa’s professional membership. So again, I predict Disney and Pixar to be well represented come award time.

ASIFA was established by animation artists such as Norman McLaren, John Hubley, and John Halas in 1957. ASIFA’s Hollywood chapter, a non-profit organization, was started a few years later by Bill Scott, Stephen Bosustow, Ward Kimball, William T. Hurtz, Carl Bell, Les Goldman, June Foray, and Bill Littlejohn. The Annie Awards have always been presented by artists, for artists.

Long before the Oscars and Golden Globes thought animated features worthy of their awards, the Annies recognized features, TV shows, direct-to-video movies and commercials, as well the animators, story artists, background painters, voice actors and other behind the scenes talent.

It’s a wonderful thing when those who run the corporations that profit most from the artform support and celebrate the people who actually create the work. From what I know, the Annies will go on this year with strong support from Nickelodeon, Sony, Dreamworks, Warner Bros., Cartoon Network, Fox, Universal and Starz.

Disney management, in an email sent to Disney/Pixar employees last week, encouraged its employees “to maintain their memberships and support for the Annies as they deem appropriate”. Somehow, someday, I suspect Disney will return to supporting the Annies – at a time they deem appropriate.

Jerry Beck

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