Besides Handing Out Oscars, What Does the Academy Do?

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Getty Images

Although the Academy Awards are far and away the most visible of all of the Academy's endeavors, the group is involved in numerous other missions in the field of film study. The 6,000-plus-member organization bills itself as "the world's preeminent movie-related organization," and it's hard to argue with the boast.

The Academy is devoted to preserving and studying film, and to meet these goals it maintains several educational facilities. The Margaret Herrick Library, which has been around since 1928, contains more movie-related paraphernalia than one could get through in a lifetime. The library's website says its holdings include over 10 million photos, 80,000 scripts, 35,000 movie posters, and countless pieces of correspondence, costume design sketches, and other movie relics. If you're ever in Beverly Hills, the library's on La Cienaga Boulevard.

Similarly, since 1929 the Academy has operated the Academy Film Archive in Hollywood for the "preservation, restoration, documentation, exhibition, and study of motion pictures." The archive contains over 150,000 pieces of film, including 60,000 individual movies. The archive's four climate-controlled vaults also contain some more unusual holdings, like home movies from stars like Steve McQueen.

The Academy is also working on the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Hollywood, which might open as early as 2012. According to the museum's website, it will be a place to "celebrate and explore how film has reflected and shaped world culture." The privately funded museum will allegedly cost about $350 million to build, but it will provide a central location in Hollywood for visitors to really explore film history and production.

When you thank the Academy, who are you thanking?

So who's in the Academy? The 6,000 members are representatives of pretty much everyone involved in making movies, from executives to actors to technical staff. The group began in 1927 as the brainchild of MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer and three friends, and although the Academy originally only had 36 members, it quickly grew, particularly after a 1928 idea to start giving out annual awards for film performances. Today, new members come into the organization by invitation only and represent a cross section of the filmmaking industry.




Mifflin Madness: Who Is the Greatest Character on The Office? It's Time to Vote

Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.
Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.

Your years of watching (and re-watching) The Office, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary, have all led up to this moment. Welcome to Mifflin Madness—Mental Floss's cutthroat competition to determine The Office's greatest character. Is Michael Scott the boss you most love to hate? Or did Kevin Malone suck you in with his giant pot of chili?

You have 24 hours to cast your vote for each round on Twitter before the bracket is updated and half of the chosen characters are eliminated.

The full bracket is below, followed by the round one and round two winners. You can cast your round three vote(s) here. Be sure to check back on Monday at 4 p.m. ET to see if your favorite Dunder Mifflin employee has advanced to the next round. 

Round One

Round Two

Round Three

The Office Planned to Break Up Jim and Pam in the Final Season—Then (Smartly) Thought Better of It

Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly's relationship in The Office was truly a romance for the ages. Fans were delighted when, in Season 3—after years of flirting—John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer’s characters finally got together. But an alternative plan for the show’s ninth and final season saw the couple going their separate ways.

Season 9 saw one of the most stressful storylines the show had to offer when Jim took a job in Philadelphia and Pam struggled to take care of their children on her own back in Scranton, putting intense strain on their otherwise seemingly perfect relationship. In one unforgettable scene, a particularly tense phone call between the couple ends with Pam in tears. Fischer’s character then turns to someone off camera named Brian for advice.

As Collider reports, Pam and Jim's relationship could have taken a turn for worse in the final season—and the writers had planned it that way. As recounted in Andy Greene's new book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, series creator Greg Daniels sat down with each of the show's stars before starting the final season to discuss where their characters would go. John Krasinski, who played Jim, pitched the idea of putting Jim and Pam’s relationship on thin ice. According to Krasinski:

"My whole pitch to Greg was that we’ve done so much with Jim and Pam, and now, after marriage and kids, there was a bit of a lull there, I think, for them about what they wanted to do … And I said to Greg, ‘It would be really interesting to see how that split will affect two people that you know so well.'"

Several writers weighed in with ideas about how they might handle a split between Jim and Pam from a narrative standpoint—though not everyone was on the same page.

Warren Lieberstein, a writer on the series, remembered when the idea of bringing Brian—the documentary crew's boom operator—into the mix. “[This] was something that came up in Season 5, I think," Lieberstein said. "What if that character had been secretly there the entire time and predated the relationship with Jim and had been a shoulder that she cried on for years?’ It just seemed very intriguing." Apparently, the writers thought breaking the fourth wall would jeopardize the show, so they saved it for the last season.

Writer Owen Ellickson said there was even some talk of Pam and Brian “maybe hooking up a little bit," but the negative response to the storyline led the writers to "pull the ripcord on [Pam and Jim's separation] because it was so painful to fans of the show." Ellickson said that they backtracked so quickly, they even had to re-edit certain episodes that had already been shot to nix the idea of Jim and Pam splitting up. Which is something the show's millions of fans will be forever grateful for.