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'Fast Five' stunt coordinator angles for Oscar recognition ... again

June 10, 2011 |  3:30 pm

Fastfive
Veteran stunt coordinator Jack Gill has been lobbying for an Academy Award category for him and his brethren for the last 20 years. Every year he gets denied. But the 56-year-old coordinator, whose credits range from the "Knight Rider" TV show in the 1980s to "Date Night" and the upcoming film "Change-Up" later this year, is hopeful that his fortunes will change this week when the Board of Governors considers his petition for a stunt coordinator category yet again.

This particular meeting marks the last time that executive director Bruce Davis will attend a board meeting, as the 30-year veteran retires at the end of the month. However, newly hired executive director Dawn Hudson will also attend the meeting, and Gill, who is scheduled to meet with the new director today, is hopeful that the two can wrangle a simple majority from the 43-member board to get his category added to the show — even if it doesn't get televised.

"I hope that the two of them will sit in on this meeting on Tuesday and say, look, this is Bruce's crowning effort. After 20 years, we are finally giving the stunt coordinators their own category," says Gill. "We deserve it. Many films could not be made without a stunt coordinator."

Gill is especially eager to get the category added in 2011. For the experienced stunt man is particularly proud of his work on the Justin Lin-directed "Fast Five," most notably the scene involving a runaway safe and more than 200 wrecked cars. "My work on 'Fast Five' was the quintessential job ... it took the most work I've ever done." 

Yet the chances of Gill succeeding are slim. Despite some Oscar producers' encouragement that a stunt coordinator category would liven up the lengthy broadcast, and despite past petitions signed by such luminaries as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Dustin Hoffman, among others, the academy has little incentive to lengthen an already interminable show. The governing body already has requests from casting directors and others for a special category. And Gill's suggestion that they present the award untelevised during the pre-show is likely too slippery a slope for the academy to tread.

Gill is confounded by the academy's response and has been so since he began his quest in 1991. "All of our peers think we belong there, and the public thinks we belong there. We're being shoved aside, and I don't understand why."

— Nicole Sperling

Photo: Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in "Fast Five." Credit: Universal Pictures.

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