Film Academy’s Longtime Top New York Official Out, Members Vent on Zoom with Organization’s Leaders (Exclusive)
Patrick Harrisonthe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ longtime top official in New York, has been let go by the organization, The News84Media has learned.
The exit of Harrison was communicated to the Academy’s roughly 1,000 Tri-State area members in an email sent last Friday by the Academy CEO. Bill Kramer and president Janet Yang. The official began his career in 1991 as an assistant to the Academy’s executive administrator and left in 1995 to work on awards campaigns at Miramax. He then returned to the Academy in February 2001, serving as director of New York programs and membership until July 2022, when he was promoted to VP member relations and global outreach.
“Since we met with you in October, there have been some changes in the Tri-State operation,” Kramer and Yang’s missive acknowledged. “As some of you know, Roger [Mancusi, Harrison’s deputy] left the Academy in the fall, and Patrick has been on leave. We are writing to let everyone know that Patrick has now left the Academy. We thank Patrick for his work, contributions and efforts and continue to wish him the best.”
On a Zoom call Friday morning that had been scheduled prior to last week’s email, in response to a variety of other concerns that have been raised in recent months, Kramer and Yang were joined by dozens of Tri-State members. The meeting included Oscar-winning screenwriters Geoffrey Fletcheractress Dana Ivey and publicist Donna Dickmanas well as Academy governors Donna Gigliotti of the executives branch (also an Academy vice president and its secretary) and Wynn Thomas of the production designers branch (also an Academy vice president). The departure of Harrison, a popular figure among the members after 22 years as their main point-of-contact within the Academy and the moderator of most of their post-screening Q&As, was a major topic of discussion.
Some members expressed displeasure about the lack of transparency regarding Harrison’s “disappearance” in recent months. Kramer said he has been and remains limited in what he can share — “It’s in HR’s hands” — while Yang acknowledged, “Things were not handled as well as they could have been, but you’re going to see positive change.”
Harrison did not respond to a request for comment.
Additionally, some members griped that, in Harrison’s absence, Tri-State operations have been overseen by LA-based Academy officials — primarily its svp member relations and global outreach. Dilcia Barrera and evp member relations and awards Shawn Finnie — who they feel are not as familiar with their concerns.
For instance, members are frustrated with the lack of a central Academy “home” in New York. From 2002 through 2015, the organization leased from Lighthouse International a portion of a building at 111 East 59th Street, which included a 220-seat theater and was where Harrison and Mancusi’s offices were based. But ever since the Academy was displaced by the sale of that property in 2015, members have not had a regular space to gather, instead bouncing between the screening rooms of MoMA (which are particularly expensive to rent and which sound and VFX branch members have found to be lacking) and the Dolby 24 and Dolby 88 screening rooms (which can accommodate far fewer attendees).
Last week’s email from Kramer and Yang to Tri-State members announced that the Academy is “on the hunt for additional spaces” for screenings, and that given that “more than 50 percent of our Tri-State members live in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and NJ,” the Academy had recently closed a deal with Spring Place, a “multi-use space used by the film, art and fashion communities” in Tribeca. This location will serve as a new base for the Academy employees who will ultimately replace Harrison and Mancusi and a space for meetings and gatherings of members, as well as an upcoming Academy-sponsored event timed to the Tribeca Film Festival. (The Academy also recently hosted an Oscar night viewing party for its Tri-State members at the Spring Place venue, which some members complained was a downgrade from previous editions held at the Rainbow Room atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown.)
Some members say they wish that a wider cross-section of them — rather than a small “New York leadership committee,” which includes documentary branch governors Chris Hegedus and Jean Tsien — had been consulted prior to that deal closing. They noted that they have grave safety concerns given that the part of Tribeca where Spring Place is located is largely deserted at night, with only intermittent access to public transportation.
On Friday’s Zoom call, Kramer and Yang made it clear that none of these arrangements are irreversible, and conveyed that efforts are currently underway to fill the positions previously occupied by Harrison and Mancusi with others who are based in New York. They also noted that, in the meantime, the New York-based team of the Academy’s PR firm, Sunshine Sachs Morgan & Lylis, will team up with Barrera and Finnie to make sure that members’ needs are satisfied. Kramer added that he will come to New York on April 23 to meet in person with any Tri-State members who wish to speak with him.
Reached for comment by THR, Kramer said, “Our New York-area community is incredibly important to the Academy. We are listening to the concerns of our membership and are committed to continuing these conversations and making important and needed changes. We also acknowledge that we need to reinvigorate our New York leadership committee and have more consistent communications with our New York members. We are growing our New York presence, have reinstated screenings and events and have secured a new meeting space. In addition, we have started the process of re-staffing the New York office in order to create more spaces for our members to come together and celebrate film as part of our global Academy community.”
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