DreamWorks Annie Awards
The 36th Annual Annie Awards (also known as the DreamWorks Annie Awards), honoring the best in animation for 2008, were held on January 30, 2009 at Royce Hall in Los Angeles, California.
In 2009, DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda swept the Annie Awards, shutting out eventual Oscar-winner Disney/Pixar's WALL-E in every category. In an Oscar prediction article, New York Times writer David Carr noted, "Oscar watchers were stunned when Kung Fu Panda took all the awards from the International Animated Film Society. That was an inside job, full of backstage politics you don’t want to know about."
Animator Bill Plympton (himself a recipient of ASIFA's lifetime achievement award), also criticized the organization's balloting practices, writing in his blog, "I think that Jeffrey Katzenberg, who knows a good publicity opportunity when he sees it, bought ASIFA-Hollywood memberships for his entire studio, and then told them to vote the party line... The unfortunate reality is that it feels like the elections were rigged - they were bought! What a travesty."
In 2010, Walt Disney Studios decided to cease submissions and support for ASIFA-Hollywood's Annie Awards. At issue was the fact that anyone could buy a membership (and voting ballot) to ASIFA, whereas members of the Motion Picture Academy and other awards-giving bodies must be voted in only by their peers. Disney also believed the scales are tilted in favor of DreamWorks Animation, which gives each new employee a free membership to ASIFA-Hollywood.
Due to Disney's complaints, ASIFA-Hollywood changed the rules on voting for individual achievement categories, making those categories only available to professionals. ASIFA-Hollywood head Antran Manoogian said that this was just a first step to a future move where Annie voters would have to be approved by a committee and non-professionals would now be ineligible to vote.
That was not enough for Disney/Pixar president Ed Catmull, who had called for an advisory committee of cartoon execs representing each studio to recommend rule changes to the ASIFA board. Catmull said, "We believe there is an issue with the way the Annies are judged and have been seeking a mutually agreeable solution with the board. Although some initial steps have been taken, the board informed us that no further changes would be made to address our concerns."