Marion Dougherty To Receive Posthumous Oscar For Her Contributions As A Casting Director

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A few years ago, I had the opportunity to see Tom Donahue’s Casting By (read my review here) as part of a cinema arts festival. The documentary’s subject was that of casting and how the profession got little to no credit for the success of a motion picture. It was also a way to memorialize the great Marion Dougherty, a woman with more than sixty years experience in finding talent and championing them for Hollywood TV shows and feature films.

Requests from high-ranking actors to get Dougherty an honorary Oscar for her contributions were ignored by the Academy. Taylor Hackford, director of Ray and The Devil’s Advocate and president of the Director’s Guild, was a staunch opponent that those in the casting profession not have the title of “director,” feeling that that title should be only for the the filmmaker steering the ship.

That may be his case, but unlike Mr. Helen Mirren (yep, he’s the husband of The Queen herself) casting is rightfully an art and can change the look of a picture. Which is what happened when Ms. Dougherty suggested Danny Glover as the second lead in Lethal Weapon, when everyone else in the room was thinking “we need another white guy.” Honestly, can you picture the Richard Donner buddy-cop flick and not see Glover mouthing that famous phrase, “I’m too old for this shit”? Exactly.

Dougherty would also champion unknowns like Glenn Close, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight among others. I’m sure you’ve heard of them.

It’s disappointing that the award is just now going to a trailblazer in her industry, especially after her passing in 2011. But as much as Hackford and egomaniac directors like him hate to admit, Ms. Dougherty is an indelible part of film history and it’s about time she got the recognition she should have received before her death.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will present Marion Dougherty with its Governors Award on February 22, 2015.

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