AMPAS Goes After Makers of Eight-Foot Oscar Statue

If only the annual Oscar telecast was this entertaining.

Per a Hollywood, Esq. dispatch from THR senior writer Daniel Miller, some 2011 correspondence between the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Edwardsville, IL special events firm has escalated into a 2012 lawsuit filed last week. At issue are the eight-foot-tall golden statue props provided by Event Line for special functions.

In response to last year’s AMPAS letters, Event Line changed the name of the prop from “Oscar statue” to “Telly statue” and made alterations to the statue’s appearance. But after some February subterfuge, this now looks to be headed to the courtroom:

According to president Robert Hollingsworth, the person sent by the Academy to the [Atlanta] warehouse used a “false name, false address and false purpose” to gain access to the facility and took unauthorized photographs of the Telly Award statuettes and other products.

Hollingsworth tells Miller his company will not back down from the fight and plans to counter sue over the unauthorized February pics.

Take a look and judge for yourself.

*Update – 03/14/12: After publication, we heard via email from Mr. Hollingsworth, who wanted to share these notes. They have been edited for brevity:

I wonder if I can clarify a couple of points. AMPAS said they “sent letters” to us, but know none were ever delivered. They sent them to a warehouse tent bin we used nearly three years earlier that was 500 miles from our office. I have no idea why they sent letters there, when we had published it as “not for U.S. Mail.”

Your article is a bit incorrect in that we have never marketed our Telly statue as an Oscar. We had a ten-year-old statue from a business we acquired in 2005 that may have been referred to as Ozcar. Since I was pretty new to the business I had never heard of any issues. Last summer, an Events magazine was given to me that showed AMPAS was angry with another event planner. We learned that Oscar was not a generic name and not only did we stop using it, we re-sculpted the statues into Polynesian props. We started using TELLY for Hollywood events last fall to fill the void with an original statue we thought no-one could object to.

AMPAS was told all of this, but they ignored it saying we could not have any statue related to Hollywood, could not use the words Hollywood Awards, could not have Hollywood Party props and insisted we destroy our designs.

We asked AMPAS three-four times what issue of infringement they had, never with a response other than a threat. What stopped the one-sided discussion (we attempted to find out the issue, they threatened) was my learning that a AMPAS agent gave a false name, false address and false purpose to enter a warehouse, then told the workers “I had given him permission” to take pictures. The areas are posted no photographs because of the many copyrighted works we create for ourselves and others. This fellow did not only take pictures of our Telly statues, which I probably could have forgave, he also took pictures of many our unreleased designs including an item we are working on getting patented. AMPAS has refused to return the photos, instead holding them over us to get their way. Needless to say this is not the integrity we expect from AMPAS or anyone. This is where the “SO SUE ME” thought actually came into my mind (although I didn’t say it). You hit the nail with that one.

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.