UTA Cancels Their Annual Oscar Party To Protest The Immigration Ban
One of Hollywood's most powerful agencies announced Wednesday that they were canceling their annual Academy Awards party to protest President Donald Trump's travel ban. UTA is scrapping their annual celebrity-studded Oscar fête and will be donating $250,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union and the International Rescue Committee.
Instead of a party, the agency will stage a pro-immigration rally “to express the creative community’s growing concern with anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States," according to Variety. The rally will be held at UTA's Los Angeles offices two days before the Oscars on February 24.
The agency represents Academy Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who is nominated this year in the best foreign-language film category for “The Salesman.” Farhadi was the subject of headlines across the globe in the immediate wake of the ban, which would have prevented him from entering the country to attend the awards ceremony. Farhadi has since said that he will not attend the ceremony even if exceptions are made to allow him into the country, in protest of the "unjust" ban.
Variety reports that when Farhadi, who is currently in Tehran, heard the news about UTA canceling the party he responded with a text saying that he was "honored and in tears."
"This is a moment that demands our generosity, awareness and restlessness," UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer wrote in a letter to staff, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Our world is a better place for the free exchange of artists, ideas and creative expression. If our nation ceases to be the place where artists the world over can come to express themselves freely, then we cease, in my opinion, to be America.”
The agency has also started a CrowdRise campaign for others in the Hollywood community to donate to the ACLU and IRC. As of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, an additional $13,000 had already been raised.
CAA, WME-IMG and ICM Partners all still have parties scheduled, but we wouldn't be surprised if other ten-percenters follow the UTA lead. In December, Hollywood PR firm Sunshine Sachs made a splash when they canceled their annual bi-coastal holiday festivities as a gesture of support for immigrants, women, LGBT people and the environment and donated the money they would usually have spent on the parties to 16 different organizations that work to protect those groups, including the ACLU.
The decision already seems to be a hit with UTA clients, many of whom tweeted their support:
The "United Voices" rally will be held outside UTA Headquarters at 9336 Civic Center Drive in Beverly Hills on Friday, February 24 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.