Jennifer Hudson, New 007 Lead Academy Invitees
Ryan Gosling, Jennifer Aniston and Eddie Murphy will also be able to cast ballots
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced on Monday (June 18) that the organization has extended invitations to 115 individuals for 2007.
The actors branch of Academy members is always the highest profile and this year's pack is led by Hudson, whose big screen debut in "Dreamgirls" yielded an Oscar this spring. Among the performers Hudson beat was fellow new Academy invitee Adriana Barraza ("Babel"). Other 2007 acting nominees invited to join the Academy rolls include Ryan Gosling ("Half Nelson"), Jackie Earle Haley ("Little Children") and Hudson's "Dreamgirls" co-star Eddie Murphy.
While previous Oscar recognition helps, "The Office" (and "Little Miss Sunshine") star Steve Carell, new James Bond Daniel Craig, Emmy winner Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart and Danny Huston were among the other thespians nabbing invites.
On the directors' side, 2007 nominee Paul Greengrass ("United 93) has been invited into the Academy, as has '70s cult favorite Monte Hellman ("Two-Lane Blacktop"), "The General's Daughter" helmer Simon West, "On the Lot" guest judge D.J. Caruso and Peter Berg, who directed both the "Friday Night Lights" feature and its acclaimed small screen pilot.
"Lost" co-creator and "Regarding Henry" scribe J.J. Abrams was invited to join the Academy from the writers branch, as were both 2007 screenplay winners, William Monahan ("The Departed") and Michael Arndt ("Little Miss Sunshine"), along with foreign film winner Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck ("The Lives of Others").
"These individuals are all exceptionally accomplished in their respective fields," says Academy President Sid Ganis. "We're looking forward to having them join the Academy's ranks."
The Academy took new steps four years ago to limit the organization's rapid growth, instituting bylaws allowing an increase of a maximum of 30 members per year. Death, lapsed memberships and other factors could have allowed this year's Academy class to be as back as nearly 150 members, but the various branch committees endorsed a lower number. Since the new changes were implemented, membership has remained stable at just under 6,000.
"The numbers are stabilizing nicely," says Academy Executive Director Bruce Davis, "But at the same time some interesting changes are occurring. Like the recent lists of Oscar nominees, our last few membership invitation lists have been increasingly international."
Last year's crop of Academy invitees included Dakota Fanning, Werner Herzog and Dolly Parton.