NEW YORK – The New York Film Critics Circle (search) is considering whether to follow the Los Angeles film critics, who canceled their annual awards to protest the ban against sending screeners of films to voters for year-end honors.
"We're polling the members by e-mail to see what action, if any, we want to take," said Andrew Johnston, chair of the New York group.
"At our meeting on Friday, it was clear that a majority of our members are opposed to the screener ban, but we didn't discuss taking action of this nature, because it hadn't come up yet."
The National Society of Film Critics (search) is also polling its members on the same issue and would likely reach a decision in the next couple of days, said Peter Rainer, chair of the 52-member group.
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (search) voted on Saturday to cancel its awards vote, scheduled for Dec. 13, citing the ban on awards screeners imposed recently by the Motion Picture Association of America.
"The ban on screeners seriously inhibits our ability to work as professionals and compromises the integrity and fairness of the evaluative process," the groups said in a statement.
Jean Oppenheimer, president of the L.A. group, said the awards could be rescheduled if the ban - which MPAA president Jack Valenti (search) claims is necessary to combat piracy - is lifted in a "timely" manner.
The ban - which critics say will most hurt the chances of independent films - has thrown this year's award season into chaos.
After the move was condemned by dozens of prominent actors, directors and producers, the studio chiefs had a conference call with Valenti last week to discuss modifying the ban.
Nothing was decided, but the MPAA is believed to be considering a compromise to limit screeners to VHS copies that would be "watermarked" so pirated copies could be traced back to their original recipients.