Academy apologizes for Asian-American jokes during Oscars telecast

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The motion picture academy has apologized for jokes made about Asian-Americans during last month's Oscar telecast. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has apologized for jokes made about Asian-Americans during last month's Oscar telecast.

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The show drew low ratings while the lack of African-American nominees had prompted complaints about diversity prior to the broadcast.

But jokes told by host Chris Rock during the show also prompted complaints from prominent Asian-American members of the entertainment industry.

In one bit, for example, Rock followed a joke by indicating three Asian-American children on the stage and quipping, "If anybody's upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids."

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A letter from 24 Academy members - including director Ang Lee and actor George Takei - complained about the offensive jokes and how they perpetuated stereotypes.

"We'd like to know how such tasteless and offensive skits could have happened and what process you have in place to preclude such unconscious or outright bias and racism toward any group in future Oscars telecasts," they wrote. "We look forward to hearing from you about this matter and about the concrete steps to ensure that all people are portrayed with dignity and respect."

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The academy responded quickly with a statement Tuesday that read in part: "The Academy appreciates the concerns stated, and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive. We are committed to doing our best to ensure that material in future shows be more culturally sensitive."

Some advocates say the apology was a good first step, but the Academy needs to follow it up with action, including employing Asian-Americans in key Oscars producer and production roles in the future.

"Hopefully the academy's commitment goes much deeper than just ensuring the jokes are not offensive the next time around," said Karin Wang, with the group Asian-Americans Advancing Justice L.A.

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