BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., June 30 (UPI) -- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has invited 127 filmmakers -- including Sean Penn and Sofia Coppola -- to become members.
Invitations were extended to actors Paul Bettany, Patricia Clarkson, Scarlett Johansson, Viggo Mortensen, Ken Watanabe and Treat Williams. Directors Gurinder Chadha and Peter Chelsom were also invited to join the academy.
Coppola was invited both as a director and as a writer, but she may only accept one invitation.
"This remarkably accomplished group is a slightly smaller one than we've extended invitations to in recent years," said academy President Frank Pierson. "It reflects a decision we've made to slow the growth of the academy somewhat, and to become even more selective in our membership process."
Pierson said entrance standards had been tightened in recent years, but academy branch committees could still offer membership to candidates who "met just the minimum criteria" for admission.
"Now we are asking the committees each year to 'give us your most impressive candidates,'" said Pierson. "The idea is that over the next 20 years or so we'll bring about an academy that is as distinguished as we can possibly make it."
Plans call for maintaining academy voting membership at a level of about 5,880.